As a child, growing up in Northport, Long Island, I was always fascinated by the flames of a campfire, the butterflies we collected, and the shells and creatures that appeared at low tide. Playing in our yard with sticks, stones, seeds and flowers, my imagination ran free.
Glass artist Margaret Neher recreates and preserves forever the fleeting beauty found in nature. Working over an open flame, she translates the fragile delicacy of orchids, wildlife and everyday fruits into lasting art objects that capture more than a mere realistic rendition of an everyday item. In a process far less forgiving than a brush on canvas, Neher brings life, vibrant color, realistic detail and sculptural beauty to each of her pieces.
Neher began creating stained and etched glass art in the early 1980s, first as a hobby. She started her business two years later, making custom windows, lamps and a variety of gift items. In 1990, she began crafting glass kaleidoscopes, many of which can be found in the homes of collectors as far away as Switzerland and Japan.
Drawn to lampwork in 1991, Neher soon devoted herself exclusively to this centuries-old tradition in which glass rods and tubing are melted over a 3,000-degree flame and then hand worked into finely detailed sculptural forms. No molds are used, and no two pieces are identical.
I’m fascinated by the endless variety of shapes and colors found in nature and in orchids in particular. At the same time, I find myself frustrated by their ephemeral nature; how rare and fleeting they are. I think this is why I’ve always been drawn to realism in my work; to the challenge of working to capture a complex, ever-changing living think in an unchanging form. Lampworked glass is particularly suited to this. The fluidity of the process allows the piece to keep evolving; each time I reproduce a flower it becomes more realistic as my understanding of it grows more fully. Through repetition certain parts of the form become comfortable and familiar, allowing me to see something new, some part more accurately with each rendition.