NEIL ANDERSON; Department CO-Chair - Fine Jewelry
Neil didn’t get involved in metal arts until taking a beginning jewelry class to fulfill a requirement for a BFA degree in 1973. His professor and mentor Lee Peck had a blacksmithing workshop that Neil attended. This started him on the path to a MFA in metalsmithing and jewelry design, completed at NIU in 1977. Since then, Neil has been a self employed blacksmith/metalsmith and wood worker, doing mostly custom commissions.
Victoria Belz; Flameworked Sculptural Glass and Jewelry Artist
My true passion for glasswork began in 2006. Enamored with the endless possibilities, luminous quality and beauty of glass, I began my education to develop my skills as a glass artist. Over subsequent years, I continued to study flame working, attending glass workshops with master glass artists, and began teaching others the joy of glasswork. I find glass to be a challenging medium, an amorphous solid always demanding my attention. Even today, I find my curiosity for new techniques continuing to pull me in different directions. For example, I am currently exploring larger sculptural works which mimic organic structures. Working with glass continues to energize me and fill me with wonder.
LINDA BINGLE; Polymer clay
I have always thought of myself as an artist all my life, no matter what other jobs I have been working. I grew up surrounded by my father’s paintings and my mother’s craft projects, and have always had a love for design, color, and texture. I received my Bachelor of Fine Arts in the area of painting from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, and have also studied pastels, jewelry and metalworking, printmaking, fiber arts, collage, and creativity. I consider myself a multi-media artist, but my current passion is polymer clay because of its playful versatility.
DAN CALDWELL; Blacksmithing
Dan has been creating custom knives, swords, and axes for over 20 years. Each piece is unique and meticulously crafted. His eye for detail sets him apart. Many years ago he began creating custom exterior iron art for high end landscape contractors, that has lead to many different wrought iron projects. Dan has created custom gates, fireplace covers, grates and accessories He graduated from NIU with a BS in Design.
RON DILLER; Woodworking
Ron’s personnel likes include carving subjects such as caricatures, songbirds and stylized animals. He also carves functional items such as whistles, bowls, spoons and pins. Ron is mostly a self-taught carver but gives credit to what he’s learned from peers and master carvers while observing and taking classes over the years. Ron has taught and mentored members of the North Suburban and Batavia Carvers, of which he is a member.
CLAUDIA ENGEL-RUSH; Department CO-Chair-Fine Jewelry
Born in Europe into a family of artists, Claudia was surrounded by an array of art mediums, from the visual arts to music. After moving to Illinois, she discovered the metals and jewelry program at NIU, where she graduated with a BFA and MFA. When creating a piece, whether it is organic, geometric or abstract, Claudia builds on the interplay between form and function.
ALLISON JOHNSON; Lampwork glass beads
Allison designs and creates jewelry using flamework glass and metalsmithing techniques. She has been making original jewelry since she took her first metals class in high school and has an M.F.A. from Northern Illinois University in Metals and Jewelry. Allison has focused on learning to make glass beads in the flame and feels her most interesting challenge is designing jewelry that integrates the materials of glass and metal.
NANCY KRAHN; Fine Jewelry Nancy is a self employed jewelry artist, exhibiting in national and regional Fine Art Fairs for the past 35 years. Her designs are inspired by nature-her pieces often include floral and botanical elements.Art Nouveau, Art Deco and the Arts and Crafts movement influence her work.Hand fabricating techniques, attention to detail, and craftsmanship are her specialty. She has exhibited at Uncommon Threads, Christmastime at the Fine Line , and the Fox Valley Ramble, and is excited to join the Fine Line faculty in 2020. Her work can be seen at
MARY MERGES; Stained Glass
A flat glass artist for 22 years and a potter for 19 years, I have been associated with Fine Line for over 20 years. Fascination with natural light and its effect on glass color and texture is my focus when encouraging students to explore their own creativity. From the simplest sun catcher to a large window, stained glass opens a world of beauty and color to our lives.
ALAN SHONTZ; Glass Blowing
My passion for glass was nurtured and developed over twenty years as a student of Lance Friedman in Chicago and also inspired by workshops with artists Michael Schunke and Kait Rhoads. As a glass artist my interest is to continue exploring Venetian patterning techniques (cane and murrine) with both functional and non-functional forms. Glassblowing demands your undivided attention. It engages you both physically and mentally. Its reward is not just the tangible object but the entire creative experience. There is nothing like the glow of hot glass being shaped and worked. I enjoy sharing my passion for glass through teaching.
AMY SIMPSON; Fused Glass
This complex and compelling art form first captured my attention in 2006,when, after repeated recommendations from fellow artists, I enrolled in a class at my local community college. Though I have a background in painting and metalsmithing, fused glass has become my medium of choice. The infinite possibilities presented by glass fusing keep me intrigued and challenged.
KATHERINE STEINBRING; Metal Clay
Katherine Steinbring has been playing with creative stuff for almost 60 years and remembers paper dolls, cloth-loop potholders and lanyards as some of her favorites. She has a degree in art from Illinois State and one in education from NIU. Retired after teaching high school (both art and English) for 32 years, she discovered metal clay one Saturday at Fine Line and has been obsessed with it ever since. She takes classes with whatever masters are giving workshops and is certified in metal clay through art clay Silver Clay Aida.
TARA WISNIEWSKI; Lampwork glass beads
My obsession with glass began 20 years ago. I was given my first torch for Christmas and had a slow start of it. But once the fire was lit, the pyromaniac in me couldn’t stop playing and learning. I have taken many classes over the years in both lampworking and fusing. I’ve learned from many great glass artists both here in the states and in Italy. I split my time between my day job as an office manager of a medical office and running my own glass studio were I play with both lampworking and fusing.