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Sebring always sees the glass as half full

By Staff | Aug 27, 2009

2 Islands Gallery contributor Connie Sebring has a personality that’s as bright and vivacious as her colorful, fused glass masterpieces.

Never afraid to try something new, Sebring’s beautiful – and wearable – art is always a special treat for gallery goers.

Sebring began her journey into the art world when she was a teenager.

“I grew up in southeastern New Mexico in a little town called Hobbs – but it was the biggest little town in the area, and we had a huge high school that had a wonderful art program,” Sebring said.

High school was also the beginning of Sebring’s lifelong romance with a fellow artist named Ron Sebring.

“I met my hubby and fell madly in love. Then, we got married and went to Texas Tech,” Sebring said, noting that both she and her husband have always shared a passion for the arts.

When she got to college, Sebring had her first and only child, a daughter, and began studying the basics of various art forms. Sebring’s daughter Candace is an interior designer.

“It’s in the blood,” she laughed.

“Over the years I have taken painting classes. I’ve made things out of soft fabric – quilts, dolls and stockings. I did stained glass. I’ve taken pottery classes at Edison,” Sebring said, listing only some of the various types of artwork she’s dabbled in.

“The stained glass is beautiful, but it really didn’t feel like me,” Sebring said.

“I went into the fused glass after taking some courses with local instructors and I learned the nuts and bolts,” she continued, noting that she really began focusing her creative energy onto fused glass about 10 years ago.

But Sebring says it’s not always an exact science and she’s always learning something new.

She recalled a story from her early days as a fused glass artist.

“I made this beautiful piece and brought it into the (Tower) gallery – I was practically breaking my arm patting myself on the back – and one day, I got a call from Shirley Vale at the gallery and she said, ‘Connie, I heard a loud pop. I went in to see what it was and your bowl just cracked in half!’ That was a learning experience,” she said with a laugh.

Sebring makes decorative plates, aquatic suncatchers, colorful wall sconces, sculptural bowls and more, but jewlery – everything from unique pendants, earrings and rings, to beaded chokers and Kumihimo bracelets,- is something she’s been focusing on more recently.

When she’s not working on her art or manning the gallery desk, Sebring has been working with her daughter to restore antiques.

She also has a long list of potential projects that she and her husband have been working on, including melting down recycled wine bottles to create new pieces of artwork.

Sebring says she takes a lot of her ideas from nature.

“I see beauty in nature. And I have to say that nature is a lot more forgiving than glass,” she said.

But when Sebring manages to combine nature with her glass work, the results are stunning.

“When I work the gallery at night and then leave to drive across the causeway, I see lights. I see the moon shining off the water and I think, ‘How can I get that in glass?'” Sebring said, admitting that sometimes, as she experiments with different techniques or looks, she comes up with what she calls “happy accidents.”

Sebring plans to expand her repertoire of glass-working skills by exploring frit, a type of technique that uses powdered components that are later fired into glass to make interesting designs.

And while Sebring says that nature is one of her greatest artistic muses, there’s a special person in her life that is a neverending source of inspiration.

“My beautiful granddaughter – she’s six going on 22! She watches her grandfather and me and she tells everyone that she is an artist. Since she was first able to stand, she would go into grandpa’s office and pat around on the desk until she found a pen and a piece of paper, and we would just let her draw,” Sebring said.

“Watching her in her innocence draw these incredible things, it kind of makes you think. You have to let go of your ego and your preconceived notions of how things should look or how they should be. And that’s hard. I struggle with it,” Sebring said.

“She’s such an inspiration. If I’m at a stale mate with my imagination, I read a little note that I wrote down in my day planner that says ‘Think Cameron.’ Think Cameron, and keep an open mind.”

Connie Sebring’s jewelry and decorative pieces are available at the Tower Gallery on Sanibel and at 2 Islands Gallery in Chadwick Square at South Seas Island Resort. 2 Islands Gallery is open to the public every day from 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m.

For more information about the gallery, call 472-5111 ext. 7633.