By Leigh Ann Rutledge
Sheena Lewton is an artist but she doesn’t use a paint brush, pencil or clay.
She uses a soldering gun, grinder and a power drill. Lewton, of Jewett, creates pieces using stained glass, fused glass and sea glass. Using items no one else wants, she “upcycles” glass serving dishes, plates, bowls, cups and other glass items to create pieces of art.
“I love working with glass,” Lewton stated. “Each piece has its own shape and texture. The color changes by the way you hold it and the light shines on it.”
Lewton spent a lot of time in the garage with her husband while he worked on their pulling truck and other vehicles. “We were always in the garage,” she explained. “I don’t consider myself a crafty person but I like to try new things. My husband says, ‘I am dangerous when I get bored!’ It’s true.”
Two years ago she took money she received for Christmas and bought equipment to make decorative stained glass windows. She set up a card table in a corner of the garage and taught herself to make the windows. She watched You Tube videos and read books and was soon hunting patterns online that matched the ideas she wanted to create.
She displays a 2-foot by 2-foot framed Americana-themed stained glass window she has available for purchase. The red, white and blue flag inspired design has an eagle in the corner.
Lewton travels to Paden City, WV, to purchase sheets of stained glass for her projects. Referred to as “hobby glass,” the pieces she purchases are the same as what is shipped to Italy and other places. She uses the pieces left over from other orders.
“The first time I went down there I was so overwhelmed,” explained Lewton. “There were boxes and boxes of pieces of glass in all colors. Now I take a list of what colors I will need for my projects and purchase those.”
To create her Americana picture, she found the design pattern and printed it out. She cuts the pattern apart like puzzle pieces and then cuts the glass in the specific colors for each piece. Each piece, no matter how big or small, must be ground on all edges so it will fit together smoothly. Pieces are then laid out and soldered together.
“I have around 27 hours just in the glasswork in the Americana piece. That does not count time for framing,” Lewton noted. “It is my first big piece. I am very partial to it. If no one buys it, I think it will look wonderful on my wall.”
Yes, she does have little pieces of glass leftover or a piece that gets broken. She uses these remnants to create mosaic pieces.
Other small pieces of hobby glass are stacked on top of each other and placed in a microwave kiln. Lewton uses these to make necklaces.
She also makes necklaces with sea glass, which at one time was garbage in the ocean. The force of the waves turns the garbage into sea glass overtime.
“Stained glass has a life of its own,” she said. “Each side has a different texture you can feel and the colors vary so much.”
Another way she uses glass is by “upcycling” old glass items. Upcycling is defined as the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value.
She uses plates, glasses, cups, jars, vases, mostly any glass items. With these items, Lewton creates bird feeders, hummingbird feeders, bird baths, wind chimes, flowers and fairy garden mushrooms. She has a selection of candle holders, pots to set plants in and business card holders.
“I like to go to yard sales and thrift stores and purchase the items others are discarding,” explained Lewton. “People have been really receptive to my creations. They think they are unique.”
The only problem with upcycling, she noted, is it’s often hard to find colored cheap glass.
This week Lewton and her husband have been working on cleaning out an area in another building for her to set up shop. “It has escalated to the point I am taking up too much of the garage,” she chuckled. “I am moving across the street where I can set up displays and not have to worry about the weather.”
Lewton is quick to admit sometimes ideas work, sometimes they don’t, saying, “I am always learning. Each time I make something, I learn something new.”
Lewton’s creations can be viewed on her Facebook page “For the Love of Glass.”
“My goal is to have my hobby pay for itself,” Lewton said. She began spending more time with her glass work after being laid off. “I am having a lot of fun with everything.”
Her business is located at 120 Center St., Jewett, beside the gas station.
Lewton does special orders, such as a stained glass Maltese Cross she created on request. Prices for her items begin at $10.
For more information, contact Lewton at 740-491-7926.