Member Spotlight - October

 Alan Shontz

While pursuing a successful career in financial services, Alan continued his glass passion in earnest at Shatter Glass on weekends. The first year, he learned the basics of how to heat and shape glass mainly working in clear glass. His first finished piece resembled a potato and this inspired the naming of his business: “Hot Potato Glass.”

In succeeding years, Alan continued to develop an understanding of how colors react and how the “bubble” moves when creating a piece. After grasping the basics of glass blowing, Alan learned how to create color overlays and incalmo (joining two bubbles) along with many other techniques. Over time, Alan further honed his craft by learning from his mistakes - which are inevitable with glass. 

Over the years he took workshops with artists Michael Schunke, Kait Rhoads and recently Eli Zilke. Glass artists Sam Stang, David Patchen, Tobias Mohl and glass Maestro Lino Tagliapietra continue to inspire Alan to try new patterning and approaches in his work.

 A significant influence is the partnership Alan began with Henry AuYeung in 1997 when they met at Shatter Glass – a relationship that continues to this day. While Alan often works alone in the studio, most glass artists usually work in pairs or teams due to the physical nature of the medium and the need to have more than one pair of hands to create a piece. Henry, as a good partner, anticipates Alan’s needs and provides valuable artistic perspective. About his partnership, Alan said “having a friend like Henry with a like-minded passion for glass has been a great gift as he continues to push me to “chase the bubble” and my artistic boundaries.

What often draws Alan to glass is his desire to work with color and to develop pleasing patterns and shapes while also forming pieces that are as thin as possible. He also enjoys the challenge and focus of the process especially when making pieces employing Muranese & Venetian techniques. With these techniques many parts are made in advance and then incorporated into the glass forms. Alan strives to create elegant but simple, functional forms. Some pieces might appear to be easy to make, but in reality, require much practice.
How exactly did Alan and Fine Line create such a successful partnership? Alan had been hoping for years to start his own glass studio close to his home. Alan knows Sue McDowell, an established arts advocate in St. Charles. She suggested Alan contact Fine Line Executive Director Lynn Caldwell about starting a teaching studio. The timing was right.  In 2017, Alan & Fine Line entered into a financial and artistic partnership. Together with Fine Line volunteers and a few outside contractors the glass blowing studio was built. Alan donated his time and all of the equipment including building much of the equipment in the hot shop himself. The studio was dedicated in 2019. It was an important collaboration in building and opening the studio.

Here we are in 2020 and Alan has a studio where he can create his own work and share his passion for glass with others. Alan enjoys teaching students of all ages, and especially likes to attract younger students to the program who might be interested in becoming actively involved to ensure the glass program is ongoing for years to come. He looks forward to doing more demonstrations when the state mandates will allow for larger capacity groups. For now, he has devised classes and instructional processes are safe including one-on-one instruction with students and Alan wearing masks.

In the future, Alan would love to have a larger two-bench studio with two re-heat furnaces to provide more studio space for students.  For now, Alan is thrilled that together he and Fine Line provide a unique public access opportunity for hot glass in the western suburbs.

 Alan currently sells his work through the Dempsey Gallery and by commission. He is considering branching out into other opportunities to sell his original work.

When not spending time with his wife Maggie or working in the glass studio, Alan can be found on the golf course, cycling or fishing.

If you would like to see Alan at work click here.

Terri Jacobsen

Terri grew up in Wisconsin and earned a degree in Computer Science at DePaul followed by ten years of additional classes in advanced computer studies. Her first job involved computer programing for the United States Postal Service. Terri found she had a passion for computer programing and loved the challenge of analyzing and resolving complex computer problems. She worked for a number of companies over the years and eventually moved into contracts, finances and planning. During her years working in the computer industry, she discovered that she was also very interested in “hot glass” and took a class in New Orleans working with blown glass. She began collecting art glass, and then ceramics.

Terri credits her instructors at Fine Line with supporting their students through class critiques and demonstrations, sharing tips, and introducing new approaches and materials. She likes the collaborative environment that exists in the ceramics department, and appreciates being encouraged to develop her “artistic voice” and to try new things. Terri enjoys exploring glaze combinations and colors and has incorporated “pouring” techniques in her work. She makes functional ceramic ware – especially mugs - and continually strives to perfect her work, aiming to make it as “light” as possible and to fully develop her pieces. In keeping with her passion to figuring out the “why it works” behind computer programing, she enjoys investigating the “science” of ceramic bodies and glazes, and how the materials and processes work together to make a successful piece.
In addition to the encouragement of her instructors at Fine Line, Terri has been inspired by a number of ceramic artists. She especially finds the work of Tom Coleman intriguing. The intentionally distorted forms of George Orr and the delicate lines and glazing used by Hsin Cheun Lin are also sources of inspiration for her work.

Terri and her wife Dee have two adorable dogs, Iggy and Zeus, whom they adopted nine years ago and who are indelible members of their family. Dee is very supportive of Terri’s artwork and development as an artist. To facilitate greater access and control of firing her work, Terri recently had a kiln installed at home so she can fire work on her own schedule. She is also challenging herself to create larger pieces. Terri has work for sale in the Dempsey Gallery at Fine Line and participates in the annual Christmas Artisan Market. She is planning to expand her market and sell her work in the area.

Reflecting on her time at Fine Line, Terri commented that Fine Line Creative Arts Center has continued to be a valuable and important place for her by providing a creative outlet for her work and a caring community of fellow artists.