The Brilliance of Colored Light with Artist Lynne Lovely | Open Studio

With beach glass and old bottles, Lynne Lovely makes stained-glass art that brings the sea into the home.

By Annie Graves

Oct 21 2016


Salvaged windows form the canvas for Lynne’s glass bottle art.

Photo Credit : Angel Tucker
Lynne Lovely
Salvaged windows form the canvas for Lynne’s glass bottle art.
Photo Credit : Angel Tucker

Two minutes from Narragansett Beach, just off busy Route 1, there’s an oasis of shingled cottages and colorful houses called Peace Dale. Look for the green-shingled cottage with a faded dinghy resting on the front lawn, piled inside with multicolored shards of stained glass. It’s a tip-off to the glassworks artisan whose wisteria-draped garage is stocked with crates of stained-glass inventions and vintage window frames of every size and description, waiting for new glass art.

“I work everywhere,” emphasizes Lynne Lovely, as she introduces me to her airy assortment of sea glass and ocean detritus (iron oddities, driftwood, the unidentifiable), and those stacks of glassless windows waiting to be studded with brilliant slabs and knobs of colored light. Most arresting are the delicate old medicine bottles that Lynne fuses into the surrounding glass elements—as if these light-filled antiques had been tossed onto a bed of glass, to be hung before a window and subjected to even more light.

To emphasize her point, she leads me to the expansive basement workroom where a stone fireplace dominates the sitting area and a large light table illuminates squares of deep-blue stained glass, the color of darkest ocean, and green that glistens like seaweed. Here, on a workbench that runs the length of the room, Lynne plans her designs, makes a pattern, cuts and polishes the stained glass, chooses the sea glass she will add, wraps each piece in copper foil, and solders the pieces together. She has made thousands of earrings and necklaces, too—all breezy ocean reminders—and light catchers by the hundreds.

Lynne Lovely
“I work everywhere—my home is my studio, almost every inch of it,” says the artist, in her living room with Salty, her 3-year-old yellow Lab.
Photo Credit : Angel Tucker

The willowy 61-year-old Rhode Island native majored in textiles at the University of Rhode Island, and spent years in the retail fashion industry. She was living in Atlanta when she took her first stained-glass class, 32 years ago. “Right from the start I needed to have a studio,” she says of the craft that she has perfected over the decades. “I like simple lines, but interesting glass. I made one Tiffany lampshade, and put 40 hours into it—that was it. I like things to come together quicker than that!”

But it can be a dirty business working with light. Lynne wears surgical gloves to protect her hands from the abrasive cleaning chemicals, and her arms bear deep scars inflicted by sharp glass. Shivers of glass fly off the grinder as she demonstrates how rough edges are smoothed. Yet each of these small pieces, though pretty enough on its own, is like a puzzle piece waiting to make a picture—incomplete without the whole.

Salty, her 3-year-old yellow Lab, follows us back upstairs to the kitchen, where light filters into the room through a glass collage set into an old window frame. This is what it looks like when the pieces come together—old bottle fragments stamped with words, bottle necks and bottle bottoms, bull’s-eyes, and a rare slice of purple glass used to dazzling effect. “Every now and then I think I should learn more about the glass that I’m using,” she laughs. “But it’s not about that, for me. It’s what it looks like.”

Friends drop off old bottles and windows, and sometimes Lynne finds treasures in discards and free piles. She collects much of the beach glass herself, although she did just buy 158 pounds of it—some usable, but much of which will be passed along. “This piece is very well frosted,” she holds it up to the light. “But some pieces are boring!”

Still, it’s hard to shake the fever for sea glass. It seems that just about anywhere she goes, if there’s an ocean nearby, Lynne is looking for its counterpart in the glass it tosses up. Gifts from the sea, celebrated and made into art.

“Sea glass is for everybody,” she says. “It’s in the tides.” 

Lynne Lovely will be at the Foundry Artists Holiday Show at the Pawtucket Armoryin Rhode Island Dec. 1-4 and Dec. 9-11. Her workcan be found at a number of Rhode Island shops. See Lynne’s Facebook page, LovelyGlassworks, for more information, or call 401-996-3531.