Glass and Ceramics and More—Oh, My!
It’s probably safe to assume that most artists don’t have their studio in their living room, but Richard Thibodeau is not just any artist. His technique is original and very much in demand. He stumbled upon it almost by accident.
“Since I was a boy, I have always been artistic, starting with a coloring book and I excelled in the arts during high school,” he said. “I picked up this form—enamel on reverse glass—45 years ago after an art deco picture broke during a move of my first partner’s elderly mother. It was a picture of a woman sitting at a vanity. Richard wanted to take it apart and replace it. I saw how it was done and copied it and that is how I started this technique which I love,” he says.
His colorful and sparkly array of images painted on glass include male and female mermaids, the cast of Sex and the City, cocktail glasses, and more.
He sells his creations mostly at festivals and art shows and two local shops—Conversation Peace Jewelers in Lewes and Gidget’s Gadgets in Rehoboth—carry his work.
Millie Crotty started making ceramic pieces when she was still in high school. She earned a BFA in Ceramics from Alfred University in New York.
“I loved working with clay immediately, but it took me a while to realize that I could do it for a living,” she says. She has been practicing her trade since 1997.
Millie and her wife, singer Kerry Hallett, are active in the coastal art and music communities. Hallett performs at various restaurants around town and previously worked at CAMP Rehoboth. Millie has taught ceramics at the Rehoboth Art League and in the Philadelphia area. She is an active member of the Developing Artist Collaboration.
The couple had intended to move to Puerto Rico recently but decided that the threat of hurricanes made that a bit too risky. Instead, they bought a fixer-upper in Milton where Millie plans to have a studio and possibly get back to teaching.
Millie expects the local art community to continually expand. “There are so many markets and shows to sell work! And more artists are moving to the area, increasing the diversity and breadth of the art scene here,” she said.
She has displayed her work at retail and wholesale craft shows on the east coast and the Midwest. She also sells online through her website: missmillie.net.
Pat Catanzariti wrapped up her career as Global Manager/Data Management for Bristol-Meyers Squibb, where she worked for 28 years before retiring and pursuing her art. Her new career-life began in 2013 when she and wife Carol were living at Slaughter Beach. “We would find all kinds of wonderful beachy things along the bay, and we started making ‘sea glass’ windows to give out as gifts. We would make “beachy” scenes on the glass and overlay the scene with clear epoxy resin.” Their gift recipients encouraged them to market their work, and Sea Screens was born.
Pat and Carol had learned about the art of painting on screens, popular in certain Baltimore neighborhoods. They visited the city and had a private three-day training with the granddaughter of a renowned screen painting artist, but soon discovered that the art form was not that popular in Delaware. Pat refocused her craft by utilizing epoxy resin and designing art on just about any surface.
Yona Zucker says she has always loved glass, texture, color, and lighting. So, when she retired, she took a stained-glass class at the Torpedo Factory in Alexandria, Virginia, and “fell in love with it on day one.”
Originally from Israel, Yona came to the US as a teenager and has lived in Rehoboth Beach for 14 years. She has been practicing her trade for about 15 years and works on it daily. Many of her panels are commissions, but some of her inspirations come from books or things she sees in nature. One popular panel is from an image that she saw on a pillow, and she converted it to stained glass panel.
Yona considers her art a hobby and says the most difficult part of the process for her is choosing glass colors for her projects. She often consults with her spouse, Renata, who she says is a great artist in her own right. Yona displays in local shows, and only teaches for friends.
The husband/wife team of Gary and Kerry Stewart complement each other with their crafty wares. Kerry has long been interested in aromatherapy. “It’s important to me that the products my family and I use on our bodies are clean, ethically formulated and free of unnecessary chemicals, artificial fragrance and additives,” she says. She started making artisan soap in 2017 and only uses essential oils and plant-based ingredients. Friends started asking her to make them other products such as solid lotion bars, beard oil, and facial serum, and her business took off.
Kerry is an avid organic gardener and a beekeeper. She applies to her craft much of the knowledge she has gleaned about the interconnectivity of vegetables, flowers, and bees. She knew that she needed more formal training, though, so she joined the Handcrafted Soap and Cosmetic Guild, a national guild that offers classes, proper formulating instruction, labeling advice, and insurance to thousands of artisans in the country.
Gary embarked on his lifelong passion for woodworking in his early 20s as a carpenter’s helper and soon realized that he had a natural talent for woodworking. He started building homes in the Rehoboth and Lewes area and eventually started his own company. After Gary and Kerry started their family, he took a job as a carpentry/mill and cabinetry teacher at Sussex Technical High School; the position allowed him to share his talent and insights with his students. He retired in 2016, founded Tall Oak Trading Company, and started making hardwood cutting boards, wine racks, and pepper grinders.
The duo displays at vendor events throughout Sussex County. They have a booth in the Lewes Shore Market Place, Frankford’s Story Hill Farms carries their products, and they also have an online store.
Bev Pasquarella is multi-talented. She is a trained classical musician (piano) and has a master’s degree in vocal performance. For a time, she sang at Villa Sorrento in Lewes. When she retired in 2016, she began turning seriously toward the visual arts and took her first art class at Wilmington University in Rehoboth. Perhaps it was meant to be!
As a young woman, Pasquarella says, she would sneak into her daughter’s room and sketch her while she was sleeping. “I loved to draw then and found myself taking a tiny sketchbook on camping trips so that I could sketch trees and greens growing in the woods,” she says. She still has the sketchbook; she now specializes in watercolor.
Bev is active with the Developing Artist Collaboration, the Delaware Shore Artists Group, Women’s FEST, the St. Peter’s Art Show, and CAMP Rehoboth’s Handmade Markets. She considers herself a “young artist” with much to learn, even as she approaches 81 years of age.
Her sentiments echo those of many in the artists’ community, who note that so many artists offer encouragement and are generous with the tricks of their trade and the secrets of marketing. “Our wonderful art shows provide opportunities to interact with a variety of artists,” she said. “The sea, the sand, the ponds, the marsh land, the birds, the sunsets, the boats are inspirational. This land is an ever-changing, glowing artistic place to be. I’m staying.” ▼
Mary Jo Tarallo is a former journalist and public relations professional for various non-profits including a ski industry trade association. She won a Gold Award for a United Way TV program starring Oprah Winfrey.
Photos opposite page, top: Pat Catanzariti. Bottom L-R: Richard Tibodeau, Millie Crotty, Yona Zucker, Bev Pasquarella.
Above, top to bottom: Gary Stewart, Kerry Stewart.