Glass artist David Barnes follows an annual cycle. He spends the first half of the year working on new fused glass pieces for his fall collection. The second half is spent taking part in a whirlwind series of local exhibits and craft shows.
Barnes, an information systems auditor, has worked with glass for 30 years, first creating stained glass pieces and then moving to fused glass as the craft evolved.
The 54-year-old Sterling resident will be displaying his latest work at the Sugarloaf Craft Festival at the Prince William County Fairgrounds in Manassas, Sept. 9 to 11, along with about 300 other artisans. Barnes said he has noticed his work has grown in popularity.
ÒIÕm garnering a kind of following,Ó Barnes said. ÒI have numerous repeat customers and itÕs keeping me busy.
CRAFT SHOWS offer Barnes the opportunity to see the customersÕ reactions to his work, answer questions about his pieces and explain the process of creating fused glass art.
ÒThat all adds to the story of each piece,Ó he said.
Julie Doiron, director of marketing at the Potomac Gallery in Leesburg, where Barnes exhibits his glass jewelry, dishes and sculptures, first became familiar with BarnesÕs work at the 2001 Celebrate Loudoun Festival in Ashburn. After buying his jewelry, she approached him about bringing his work to the gallery. Since then, she said, Barnes has always had work on display there.
ÒWeÕve done extremely well with his pieces,Ó Doiron said.
Indeed, the Potomac Gallery sells 10 to 15 pieces of BarnesÕs glass jewelry a month. Last year, it sold 10 of BarnesÕs larger pieces, which cost as much as $700. Doiron said the finish of BarnesÕs work impresses some of her customers, who notice the smoothness of the glass edges.
The design of BarnesÕs work varies; some of his work is engraved with images of leaves and flowers, but others feature Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired geometric designs.
ÒI try and show that dichotomy between abstract and representational or a natural type of look,Ó Barnes said.
That dichotomy carries into his professional life. Doiron, a past president of the Loudoun Arts Council, said she teases Barnes about his job working with information systems.
ÒI tell him heÕs got a much larger brain than the rest of us because he uses the left and the right,Ó Doiron said.
BarnesÕs fall collection has Doiron excited. Colorful flecks of dichroic glass, which has a coat of thin metallic film, are embedded in some of the new pieces, which Doiron said give the appearance of Òconfetti.Ó One of the new glass sculptures features a lighted base that changes the color of the light filtering through the glass.
ÒI canÕt wait until the fall buying season for people to see them,Ó Doiron said.
ALONG WITH the Potomac Gallery, BarnesÕs work has been exhibited at a Creative Crafts Council show at Strathmore in Bethesda, the Greater Reston Arts Center in Reston Town Center, the Artisans Center of Virginia in Waynesboro, the National Capital Art Glass GuildÕs shows and the ArtistsÕ Undertaking Gallery, an art co-op in Occoquan.
BarnesÕs wife, Dale, who helps with the paperwork and setting up at craft shows, said she likes that her husband has a hobby to occupy his time. When heÕs not at guild meetings or work, Barnes spends his time crafting glass art in their home workroom, where they keep a kiln.
ÒIt keeps him busy and occupied,Ó Dale Barnes said. ÒHe gets so involved with it, sometimes I have to remind him to eat."