Meet Barbara Neece: Fused Glass Artist

(by Annette Verna)

Barbara Neece is a member of the Berkeley Arts Council’s Artists at the Works co-op, which is part the the Berkeley Art Works gallery and she’s our featured artist for August/September.

Barbara started working with fused glass about 15 years ago while living in Henderson, Nevada. Her interest in glass started when her husband and her sister were working with stained glass. She thought she’d give it a try too, but soon found that stained glass wasn’t her “thing.” She happened upon some fused glass pieces one day, and decided that was what she wanted to do.

And so her journey into working with fused glass began. The community where she lived in Henderson has a large arts and crafts club. She joined their fused glass group and started learning. The large community had great facilities and equipment. An added benefit was close proximity to Las Vegas for the annual Glass Craft and Bead Expo, which attracts people from all over the world. It’s a great learning and networking opportunity. Barbara says that members of the group supported each other by taking classes and workshops and then teaching what they learned to the rest of the group.

Barbara’s source for glass is a manufacturer in Portland, OR. When she started, there were 3 manufacturers in the Portland and now there’s only one. She continues to buy from the one remaining manufacturer and proudly says that all her work is created from glass made in the USA.

Barbara recently moved from Henderson to Martinsburg, WV to be closer to family. When she moved, she didn’t bring any furniture – she only brought a large amount of glass and tools!

Barbara has always been creative. She prefers to work in “3-D”. She remembers making fiber flowers as a kid; she’s done needlework, made lampshades, and dabbled in fabric design – tie-dye and batik. In fact, some of the work she’s doing now has batik-like patterns. She continues to take glass classes at a studio in Kensington, MD. She also enjoys photography.

Barbara likes the colors of impressionism, especially Claude Monet. She is influenced by contemporary glass artists Tanya Veit and Paul Messink. She especially likes the multi-layered effect Messink creates in his glass landscapes. She is currently working with “frits”, which are powdered glass that can be applied in layers and then fired.

What does she love most about working with glass? “When you open the kiln after a firing, it’s always a surprise – it’s exciting to see the results. Glass can be shaped into anything and you can use all of it in the process. The bits you remove from one piece can be used elsewhere.”

Her favorite work entitled “How I See the Sea” is a complex combination of pieces she created and assembled to look like an aquarium. It has been published in the Blue Ridge Community and Technical College publication, The Outlet (2019 edition), and can be seen along with many of her works at the Berkeley Art Works gallery now until the end of August.