Today we’d like to introduce you to Nonnie Lyketsos.
Nonnie, can you briefly walk us through your story – how you started and how you got to where you are today.
I have always been happiest when I was doing something artistic, whether it be calligraphy, cartooning, cake decorating or making things in glass. However, when I was younger I had what I now know is a fixed mindset. If I ran into trouble creating something, I decided I wasn’t very good at it after all, and I stopping doing it. When I was in college, my roommate had a beautiful drawing of Bob Marley on our wall that her brother, an art major, had sketched. I would look at it and think that I could never draw like that, so I earned my undergraduate and graduate degrees in Education instead of Art. However, in reality, I never really stopped creating. I spent more time making attractive bulletin boards than I did grading papers, and after my kids were born I tried a variety of different arts and crafts. I even wrote a gingerbread book, but I always say that glass work is the one that stuck. I first learned stained glass, then apprenticed at a studio, wrote about it for a couple of glass magazines, and taught it myself for ten years at two different community colleges. I was able to develop a growth mindset — if I didn’t know how to do something, I could learn it through instruction and practice.
During that time I was fortunate to live relatively near two glass teaching studios in Maryland: Vitrum Studios and Weisser Glass Studio. After studying with them, and at the Corning Museum of Glass Studio, I eventually moved from stained glass into fused glass, and have stayed there ever since. I make a variety of low and high end pieces that are carried at gift shops and galleries around the country. I think it’s funny that my two best selling shops are Swedish gift shops, and I live in Andersonville, a Swedish enclave of Chicago, but I don’t have a drop of Swedish blood myself. Sometimes an artist can’t predict who her best customers will be.
Great, so let’s dig a little deeper into the story – has it been an easy path overall and if not, what were the challenges you’ve had to overcome?
2016 was a very challenging year for me. I had always thought I would be married for life, but when that was no longer a tenable situation, I decided to summon up the courage and resilience to move from the east coast, where I had been for 30 years, to Chicago. Exactly one month after moving to Andersonville, my new home suffered a massive fire and the entire interior had to be rebuilt. I lived in a hotel for six weeks, followed temporary housing for six months. Our family dog died, my car was hit by an uninsured driver, and I was fined $8,000 and summoned to court for an illegal deck, the only part of the house that survived the fire undamaged. It got to the point where my mom no longer asked me how I was — she didn’t want to hear any more bad news.
Fortunately, however, I was supported by good friends and family. I had many visitors to help me keep my spirits up, and a couple of local friends let me work in their studios to keep up with my glass orders. I also continued to go to my Rotary club (Chicago Lakeview), where no one knew of my troubles. It was the only place in town where I wasn’t the poor woman who just moved here and had all the bad things happen–I was just myself. And now it’s 2018 and I’m happy to say that’s all behind me. I’m back in my home studio doing the glass that I love.
Radiant Glass Studio – what should we know? What do you guys do best? What sets you apart from the competition?
Like many artists, my business is basically a combo platter. I sell a lot of small fused glass items like framed florals and dinnerware, along with several signature pieces a year up in Corning. I also teach workshops, and this fall will start teaching at Lillstreet Art Center, which I am very excited about. Custom orders keep the studio time from being monotonous because they can be anything from fused glass awards to privacy panels, to signage. I’m currently making a window sign for a locksmith in Baltimore. I love to work with clients and show them how we can create something even beyond their original vision in beautiful, radiant glass.
What moment in your career do you look back most fondly on?
The proudest moments of my career have occurred in Corning. Both teaching at the Studio of the Corning Museum of Glass, and having my pieces sold in the Glass Market, are honors which mean very much to me. It is the epicenter of glass in the United States.
- Website: www.nonnielyketsos.com
- Phone: 410-241-3250
- Email: email@example.com
- Instagram: @radiantglass