Mary Zoller Lightner

I use a variety of methods to create art. The most recent one I have learned is called sgraffito, Italian for “painting with glass.” I use glass powder, which is like painting with colored air, and quite challenging.  I used this technique exclusively with “Sierras” and to a lesser extent with “Birds in Flight.”

I use a many different types of glass and in many forms, which I cook in a kiln. This includes glass that reacts with other types and produce a variety of effects, some that be controlled and some that result in a surprise. For the jewelry I layer dichroic glass and sometimes use this is combination with powders, frit, murrini and transparent glass.

Fusing glass requires knowledge of the nature of glass itself and schedules for heating and annealing the glass. It’s an art and science, and I am constantly experimenting and learning.
Mary at work on her diamond saw
Taking a class to learn sgraffito at Penland School of Craft
Receiving first place award in three-dimensional art from Jennifer Kirby at Crossroads Art Center in Richmond, VA.

The Creative Process

I use a variety of methods to create art. The most recent one I have learned is called sgraffito, originating with Italian glass artists. It refers to using glass powder to paint. This is like painting with colored air and quite challenging.  I used this technique exclusively with two three-dimensional pieces; “Sierra’s” and “Birds in Flight.”

I use a many different types of glass (e.g., transparent, opaque, streaky, striker) and in many forms (i.e, powder, frit, stringers).  

Fusing glass requires knowledge of viscosity (the speed and way in which glass melts) and how it reacts with other glass. This can produce a variety of effects, some of which can be controlled but may still result in surprises.

When I make jewelry, I layer dichroic glass to create depth and rich color. Sometimes use this expensive, sparkly, often textured glass in combination with powders, frit or murrini to make pendants.

I enjoy showing people my studio and how I make art. I also like donating my artwork to worthy causes, such as Mountain True.

I had two pieces selected for a national glass art show at the Workhouse Art Center near Washington DC in fall 2021.

Artist Statement and Resume 

Retirement has provided me with an opportunity to return to a long lost love; art.  When I took a class at the John Campbell Folk School in glass fusing, my passion for glass art was awakened.  Ever since then I have been learning as much as I can about this art form, which is a science as well as a creative endeavor.

There are several sources of inspiration.  One is the glass itself, as I look to show off its inherent qualities to their best advantage. Sometimes it is an image, which I look to glass to enhance. Other times it is nature, as I strive to capture a moment I have experienced that has touched me in the medium of glass.  Always it is the light in glass that inspires, whether it be the transparency or reflections, the depth, dimensions or color. It has a spiritual quality for me. I strive to give life to the glass and capture light.

I am constantly experimenting, learning and expanding my horizons and playing with it in its different forms. It is an endless source of creative exploration and expands and enriches my life greatly. 

Awards and Formal Study

First Place, Three-Dimensional Art, Juried show, Crossroads Arts Center, Richmond, VA, January 2020

Second Place, Floralia show, NC Glass Center, Asheville, NC, June 2022

Glass Jewelry, John C. Campbell Folk School, Brasstown, NC  2017

Glass Fusing, William Holland School of Lapidary Arts, 2018

Creating Glass with Dimension, Paul Messink, AAE Glass, Cape Coral, FL   One week, 2018

Painting with Glass, Micheal Janis, Penland School of Craft, Penland, NC   One week, 2019

Creating Landscapes in Glass, Fred Buxton, Little Light Glass, Nashville, TN  One week, 2019

Landscapes and Seascapes Master Class with Claire Hall, 4 classes 2020-22

Special Effects, Bonnie Celeste, Bullseye Glass, December 2020

Images in Glass Corning School of Glass, January 2022

Glass Immersion with Ann Cavanaugh and other wonderful instructors, Battleground, WA July 2022