Neil didn’t get involved in metal arts until taking a beginning jewelry class to fulfill a requirement for a design BFA degree in 1973. He had just returned from the army and had a few classes remaining for his undergraduate degree at NIU. His professor and mentor Lee Peck had a blacksmithing workshop that Neil attended. This started him on the path to a MFA in metalsmithing and jewelry design, completed at NIU in 1977. Neil specialized in hand forged ironwork and wood working with some major jewelry pieces completed as well. A few large graduate works incorporated and ironwork and hardwoods as furniture.
A one year Artist-In-Residence followed the graduate program. Since then, Neil has been a self employed blacksmith/metalsmith and wood worker, doing mostly custom commissions. He’s also done many art fairs around the Midwest.
In 1994 Neil returned to teach at NIU with his former professor Lee Peck, as an adjunct professor in the metalsmithing/jewelry art department. He also served on many graduate student committees during his nine years of university teaching. Neil began teaching at the Fine Line in 1999.
Dan has been creating custom knives, swords, and axes for almost 20 years. Each piece is unique and meticulously crafted. His eye for detail sets him apart. Ten years ago he began creating custom exterior iron art for high end landscape contractors, that has lead to many different wrought iron projects. Dan has created custom gates, fireplace covers, grates and accessories He graduated from NIU with a BS in Design.
Ron's personnel likes include carving subjects such as caricatures, songbirds and stylized animal carvings. He's also carves functional items such as whistles, bowls, spoons and pins. Some carvings require that extra touch such as painting, finishing, constructing a background or scene, along with a base and/or case. These requirements lead Ron to experience and be able to teach basic wood burning, woodturning, metal forming (brass and copper), soldering and painting to complete a detailed carving. Ron is mostly a self-taught carver but gives credit to what he's learned from peers and master carvers while observing and taking classes over the years. Ron has taught and mentored members of the North Suburban and Batavia Carvers, of which he is a member.
Born in Europe into a family of artists, Claudia was surrounded by an array of art mediums, from the visual arts to to music. Living and learning in three different countries and cultures brought together a variety of perspectives and ideas. Claudia says, "art has been a driving force in my life". She began as a water colorist and a graphic artist and then dove into other areas like stained glass, fibers and drawing. After moving to Illinois, she discovered the metals and jewelry program at NIU, where she graduated with honors with a BFA and and then an MFA. Her jewelry and sculptural pieces have been shown in galleries both nationally and internationally, most recently just outside Paris. When creating a piece, whether it is organic, geometric or abstract, Claudia builds on the interplay between form and function. She has been teaching at The Fine Line since 2004.
Cherylyn Gnadt grew up in the Northwest Suburbs of Chicago and has lived there all her life. She graduated from American Academy of Art with a degree in Graphic Design and Fine Art, and later received her Certification in Precious Metal Clay (PMC). These days, she is a part-time Graphic Designer and teaches various workshops at the Fine Line and elsewhere. Because of her unrelenting curiosity for new things, she continues to explore many facets of art and design. Each of her artistic disciplines inspires ideas for the others. Her style as a PMC and mixed-media artist is considered eclectic, personal, funky and nostalgic.
Allison Johnson designs and creates beautiful jewelry using flamework glass and metalsmithing techniques. She has been making original jewelry designs for over 20 years and has a Master of Fine Arts degree in the area of metalsmithing and jewelry design. She is also an art teacher and gives presentations about the art of Flamework Glass Bead Making for groups of all ages. For more information visit www.blissbeadstudio.com.
As a working studio artist for over 20 years, Robin focuses on creating art that is beautiful to look at while being functional at the same time. For the past five years her medium of choice has been fused glass. Pulling from a graphic design background, she focuses on the use of color, texture and patterns to create one-of-a-kind functional fused glass pieces.
Robin has a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis and has completed additional studies at the Oregon School of Arts and Craft. She teaches both graphic design and fused glass classes in the Chicagoland area.
A flat glass artist for 22 years and a potter for 19 years, I have been associated with Fine Line for over 20 years. Fascination with natural light and its effect on glass color and texture is my focus when encouraging students to explore their own creativity. From the simplest sun catcher to a large window, stained glass opens a world of beauty and color to our lives.
Valda wants to do it all. She is a sewer, weaver, quilter, dyer, knitter, felter, potter and polymer clay artist. She has been working with polymer clay for over 15 years, with a focus on creating buttons, both one-of-a-kind and designed to order.
Valda co-founded the Kansas City Polymer Clay Guild and has given presentations and workshops on polymer clay at guilds and organizations. She also teaches workshops and speaks to groups on various textile areas.
Valda is the owner of SewManiacs, through which she sells her buttons, as well as at shows in the area. She is a member of the American Sewing Guild, Handweavers Guild of America, American Tapestry Alliance, DuPage Textile Arts Guild, North Suburban NeedleArts Guild, Illinois Prairie Weavers Guild and the Woodstock Weavers Guild.
Since childhood, Amanda has been surrounded by glass collections and has always been fascinated by the creative process of glass artistry. Her work has been shown nationally in art shows and galleries. Amanda continues to expand her knowledge and enjoy teaching lampwork classes to others. Both the scientific aspect of working with glass and flame along with combining colors into various wearable art objects continues to keep her fascinated and excited about the art of glass. For more information about Amanda, please visit
Katherine has been playing with creative stuff for almost 60 years and remembers paper dolls, cloth-loop potholders and lanyards as some of her favorites. She has a degree in art from Illinois State and one in education from NIU. Retired after teaching high school (both art and English) for 32 years, she discovered metal clay one Saturday at Fine Line and has been obsessed with it ever since. She takes classes with whatever masters are giving workshops. Presently she is working at combining her metal clay pieces with polymer, viking knit and clay components.
As a sculptor, Sharon see her world in three dimensions. This vision shapes my thoughts and my work. Sharon creates three dimensional reality by manipulating a variety of media and found objects. Her work is personal, shaped by impressions of the world around her and molded by her hands. Each new beginning is a challenge, informed by her senses and referenced by the natural world.
Although Sharon started out many years ago creating hand built and wheel thrown pottery, she continued to evolve her methods and the media she uses to shape my sculptures. Sharon has a passion for a variety of sizes. She has no boundaries and nothing is too small or too large.
Sharon graduated from North Central College with a degree in Marketing, with an emphasis on Fine Arts. She has continued her education with classes taught by professional artists and has been juried into several group shows. Sharon enjoys teaching children and adults the skills she has acquired over the years and appreciates the opportunity to pass on her passion for art to the younger generation.