Northwest Garden Bling: Detailed designsSep 3rd, 2014 | Category: Crafty
by Jessamyn Tuttle
A few years ago Athena Hornsby was looking for a new occupation, preferably in the arts. After trying a variety of activities, including quilting, baking and gardening, she took a class in mosaic through Bellingham Parks and Recreation. She liked it so much she took another in stained glass. Completely hooked, she soon found herself working as a professional glass artist. “I fell in love with it,” she said. “This is what I’m good at.”
She began by working at her home in the upper Skagit Valley, but eventually started her own shop, Northwest Garden Bling, in 2008, moving the business to a storefront in Grassmere Village off of Highway 20 three years ago. Tucked in between Annie’s Pizza and Perks Espresso, she said, “There’s good food on both sides.”
The shop is tiny, filled to bursting with suncatchers, snowflake ornaments, glass mosaic windows, mosaic stepping stones, jewelry, fused glass dishes, quilts, cards, and brilliant glass lampshades. For people looking for gifts, there are all sorts of options, including Hornsby’s own work and consignment items from several other artists.
Glass lampshades are a specialty of Hornsby’s. “I love lamps,” she said, adding that although they take four to five months to make they’re worth the trouble. “When you’re done and turn the lightbulb on it’s pretty amazing.”
She makes both original designs and classic Tiffany reproductions. Lamps are expensive, she admits, but she enjoys making them and using them as a gallery showpiece. “I love it…I’m just having fun with it.”
For those looking for a new hobby or skill, Hornsby is happy to share what she knows, and teaches classes and workshops on how to make glass art, as well as selling the supplies needed. She also does custom work and repairs (although she doesn’t work with leaded glass, and refers those projects to a different glass artist). So many people ask her about her glass-on-glass mosaic technique that she’s writing a book about it.
Many of the people who take her classes are locals looking for something to do over the winter, but others seek her out to begin their own journey as glass artists. She offers one-day workshops, each with a particular project in mind – snowflakes, mosaic mirrors, stepping stones, or jewelry. For the more ambitious student, she does four-week classes in stained glass and mosaic. People can be timid about glass, but no prior knowledge is required for Hornsby’s classes, and she provides all the supplies.
Hornsby herself continues to seek out more training, taking master classes and traveling; she recently went to Italy to study mosaic. Wherever she travels, she said, she looks for handmade, local art for inspiration.
Originally from Bellingham, Hornsby has lived in the Concrete area since the late 70s, and draws inspiration from the mountains and scenery. “I love living up here,” she said. “I’ve traveled all over the world but this is where I come back to.”
She relies on business from locals who choose to shop at her store rather than buy supplies online. “It’s all about the community, keeping it alive.”
The shop’s biggest event is her annual Light Show in October, a several-day public reception in conjunction with neighboring shops, which this year runs from the 24th through the 26th. Hornsby’s work can also be found at Simply Silver in Sedro Woolley, Val’s Surroundings Gifts in Maltby, Sauk Mountain Pottery in Concrete, and Mountainside Gardens on the Mount Baker Highway between Kendall and Maple Falls.
Northwest Garden Bling is located at 44574 Highway 20 in Concrete and can be reached at (360) 708-3279. Follow her Facebook page at www.facebook.com/northwestgardenbling or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
Published in the September 2014 issue of Grow Northwest