Member Spotlight - Kathy Steinbring

Growing up with two sisters, one brother and living with her grandparents in Berwyn, some of Kathy’s earliest memories are of sitting at a table in the basement drawing, as well as building sandcastles in a sandbox. She was also fascinated with paper dolls and created clothes for them. After she learned to sew in 7th grade, and her mother bought her a used sewing machine, she became obsessed with making clothing. She sewed all the time, manipulating patterns to get her clothes just the way she wanted them.

During high school, Kathy gravitated to art classes. Her father, who loved to draw and create artistic crafts, encouraged her and was hoping she would go into commercial art. When she graduated from high school, she really had no idea of how to even apply to college so she obtained a job working for the catalog department at Sears. She quickly realized she wanted more and attended Illinois State University, majoring in art education.

After graduating in 1974, she began teaching at Lake Park High School and taught art there for fifteen years. For her final seventeen teaching years, she taught English, also at Lake Park. As an English teacher, she utilized the arts within her lessons. She included all aspects of culture and the arts in the literature she taught, imbuing the genre with a well-rounded sense of the visual arts and music of the time. Kathy felt her life changed considerably when she retired. She missed her students; her friends were at different places in their lives, and she felt she had lost her sense of purpose.
She had moved to St. Charles about five years before she retired and came across the Fine Line catalog in her mail. She had taken some classes at Fine Line twenty years earlier and was ready to revisit the venue. She signed up for a class on metal clay and was immediately entranced with the medium. She kept taking classes, slowly collecting her own materials for her home studio space.
Not only did she create jewelry, she sold it by invitation at small shows in her dining room. She sought out classes elsewhere as well, taught by masters and innovators in the medium of metal clay: Patrik Kusek, Celie Fago, Joy Funnel, Barbara Becker Simon, Anna Mazon and more. She traveled as well for classes to Wisconsin, North Carolina, Tennessee and even southern France.
Earlier in her artistic career, Kathy states that she manipulated fabrics and sewing patterns, paper dolls, played with watercolor and later worked in the darkroom with photography and manipulated the images. All this practice early on has served her well as she now enjoys manipulating metal clay. Whether it is saving small pieces of clay to reuse, using a variety of metals in the clay as well, or using nature to inspire her, Kathy gets joy out of making assemblages using metal clay.
Kathy enjoys being at the Fine Line. She took a paper making class in the ‘80s and still has the basket she made there. One of her proudest moments was winning the Best of Show and selling her winning bracelet at the opening of the Garden Party Show in the Kavanagh Gallery. Now she teaches a variety of metal clay classes and has a loyal following. She is at her happiest when sharing her love of a medium or process and inspiring someone else to have a fulfilling, creative experience. Although she doesn’t make much jewelry for herself anymore, she still enjoys experimenting with the medium. She is a certified Art Clay instructor.
Kathy considers herself more of a teacher than an artist. Fellow artists and students are who inspire her, and she loves sharing the medium with them. It has been difficult to maintain some of the momentum during the pandemic, and she is hoping to begin to look for classes, workshops and opportunities to work with masters and innovators in metal clay as the worst of the pandemic winds down.