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Art of Expression: Stained glass outlet for local artist

A retired pipeline welder for Columbia Gas Transmission Corporation and farmer, Robert Newland, of Patriot, is used to working with his hands. Though he now spends most of his time maintaining his land, in the colder months, Newland is able to dabble in his other, more artistic, interests.

“I always had a creative side,” Newland said. “I started out painting and drawing when I was in my teens and twenties, but I quickly moved on to metal and woodworking.”

Over the years, Newland has showcased his talents through an assortment of projects.

“He has created full-sized totem poles, beautiful whimsical birdhouses, metal bird sculptures for the yard, huge metal bottle trees with scores of multicolored glass bottles, furniture for our home, lamps from horseshoes, and many more lovely pieces that I am sure I am forgetting,” Newland’s daughter and known local ceramicist, Noelle Horsfield, said. “He does everything with a sense of craftsmanship and pride in his work, and I am forever grateful to have had that work ethic passed along to me,” she said.

Three years ago, Newland really found his niche when he started experimenting with another medium: stained glass.

“I have always had an interest in stained glass and the process of making it,” Newland said. “I love creating things and learning new and interesting ways of expressing my creative side. I was inspired by my daughter’s success with her ceramic art and wanted to teach myself the art of stained glass.”

“Our family is always very encouraging of one another in our creative pursuits so we went together to get him a starter stained glass crafting kit for his birthday a few years ago, and he has taken off with it from there,” Horsfield added.

Newland does most of his stained glass work in a former horse barn on his farm, where he’s constructed a workshop.

“The space is small and looks like barely controlled chaos to us, but he has everything he needs there, and he keeps making new and wonderful things, so it must work for him,” Horsfield said.

To begin a new piece, Newland first sketches out his designs on paper.

“I create all of them myself,” he said.

Then, he uses a glass cutter or saw to cut out individual pieces of the glass that he has chosen to use. Those pieces are wrapped in copper tape and soldered together. Once the image is refined, Newland adds a hand-twisted wire border Finally, he attaches a hanging hook or places the piece in a hand-made wood frame.

For Newland, stain glass is almost like a puzzle.

“I enjoy selecting the glass and figuring out the best use of the colors to create a vibrant piece,” he said.

One of Newland’s most memorable creations was a piece honoring Martha, the last remaining carrier pigeon. It hangs in Horsfield’s home.

“I was touched by her story,” Newland said.

While a large part of Newland’s work is environmental (nature and wildlife) in theme based on the surroundings of his home in the country, he has created a very broad range of pieces including R2-D2 (for Horsfield’s husband, Scott), pin-up style ladies, a witch (for his wife, Pat) and skulls.

“I love to create images that will surprise and delight the viewer,” Newland said. “And I especially enjoy creating interesting, new pieces for       family and friends.”

Newland’s work can be found at The Wild Ramp and The Red Caboose in Huntington. Shop and gallery owners that are interested in his work may contact him directly at  patnewland@hotmail.com. Find Robert Newland Glass & Metal Art on Facebook for more information on current projects.