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Where Glass and Light Dance

By Carla Edstrom

I find glass to be exceptionally mesmerizing. The structure is hard and yet very delicate. Just like so many things in life, glass has to be challenged under fire and melted down before being formed and created into a beautiful work of art. Sometimes delicate bubbles are captured inside that create an almost fluid-like appearance. Creating glass art is a testament to life and change. If you are not extremely careful, the piece will break, or burn you in the process. But if you are patient and skilled, you can form it into something beautiful.

As with most artists this year, as the challenges of the pandemic slowed down sales from canceled art fairs and closed galleries, glass artist Debbie Appleby has had to make some changes in selling her work. “I moved here in January and the world shut down in mid-March,” she said. “I had planned on the Southport Summer Market and the 4th of July. However, I have made some amazing connections and have works available in Southport at Barn and Beach Designs. I am also a new vendor at the Seaglass Artist Market in Castle Hayne that is open the 3rd weekend of each month. I have also created a strong presence on Facebook and Instagram, and that has helped in addition to regular clients that I ship work to as requested. While it’s easy to work in the solitude of my studio, I miss the personal connections. I belong to several Facebook groups and stay connected with artist friends too.”

A retired educator from Ohio, Appleby moved to North Carolina in 2005. “I served as an Assistant Principal in Western North Carolina for four years before moving to South Carolina, where I taught the gifted and talented,” said Appleby. “Before committing to my degree in education, I had taken various art classes at the local community college in Ohio. I have a Master’s degree in Education and a minor in History, as well as my Education Administrator certification,” she said. “I got tired of fitting my art into my life. Now I fit my life into my art!”

The dance between color and light from the Impressionist masters such as Monet is one of Appleby’s biggest inspirations. “I also have a deep admiration for Tiffany and his massive body of works as well as variety,” she said. “I work solely in Fused Glass and take sheets of glass which are cut, ground, pieced, designed and decorated. From there, the work goes into the kiln to be fired. Some works are fired multiple times to create shapes or textures as needed,” said Appleby. “I am greatly influenced by the colors and textures of glass. Blending colors to create fun designs. I enjoy experimenting and trying new techniques as I continue to learn and gain more skills as I go,” she said. “I find my greatest inspiration from looking at the world around me...the colors and pops of colors in nature. Certain colors of glass draw me in and I long to do more with them.”

Appleby’s early artwork in clay was a strong foundation for her transition into glasswork. “I began creating art through pottery back in the early 1980’s. I volunteered and taught clay classes at an after-school center, summer programs, adult evening classes, etc. Once I began teaching and my kids became involved in school activities, my artwork took a backseat. While living in the mountains in North Carolina, I took clay workshops through Campbell Folk School and began working more with pottery. It was there that I learned how to make face jugs, which are my favorite.”

After her career in teaching, Appleby worked at the South Carolina Artisans Center in Walterboro, SC. “I took a job and held the position of Artist Liaison where I had the opportunity to meet many artists and learn styles and techniques that were new to me,” she said. “This experience drew me deeper into my work. On a whim, my husband and I took a Stained Glass class from a local artist. It was our six weeks ‘date night!’ I thoroughly enjoyed working with glass. Eventually, I took a workshop in fused glass and fell in love! I discovered that the skill sets from clay and kiln to stained and fused glass were interwoven, and things have bloomed in the glass world for me!”

You can see Appleby’s fused glass at Barn and Beach Designs on Howe Street and at the Seaglass Artist Market at 5601 Castle Hayne RoadAn Artisitic tribute , Friday-Sunday 9 am - 3 pm. “With added weekends for the holidays, the third weekend of every month is the best place to find my works in person.” You can reach Appleby by Email:, on Instagram under Appleby Arts or appleby_pottery and on Facebook at either Appleby Arts, or Debbie Appleby. And check out her website, www.applebyartglass.


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