In Sherrill Hill’s North Main art studio, cubbies full of colored glass, scraps of wood for making frames, and rectangles of tin that serve as canvases speak to the breadth of her creativity. Housed in a separate building next to the house where her grandmother once lived and where Hill, her husband, and their twin teenage boys now reside, the studio is where the artist indulges her muse. Examples of her work are everywhere you look in the man cave above the studio: colorful stained-glass panels catch light in the windows; a medieval-looking framed mirror bordered with leaded glass adorns a back wall; cabinet doors inset with a flowing, nature-inspired leaded-glass design enliven the kitchenette.
Sherrill was always a hands-on kind of kid. With the help of her father, she built houses for her Barbie doll, and later translated that skill into building theater sets in high school. While at the University of South Carolina, where she majored in marketing and earned the equivalent of a minor in theater, she landed an internship in a local stained-glass shop. “In college, I had to find a job that I could leave to go do auditions,” she explains. “I fell in love with stained glass and decided that was something I wanted to have in my life forever.”
After she got married, she flipped houses for a while, adding decorative stained-glass elements to put “pop” in the homes she was selling. These days, in addition to making “what comes out of my head,” Hill also does custom glasswork, from doors and windows to decorative pieces that hang in the house or garden.
She rises before the birds and goes to her studio to organize her day before her family wakes up. For any stained-glass project, be it a small star ornament or a large panel depicting a complex landscape, her basic process is the same. She sketches the pattern first, then lays out the colors. Every piece is cut, scored, and broken by hand. Getting glassy-eyed at the end of a day is an occupational hazard. “It’s hard for me to talk to people after I’ve been working because I’m still seeing everything in colored pieces,” she notes with a laugh.
“Oh, wow!” is the reaction she’s going for—and achieves—in her finished pieces, in which she strives to recreate the feeling she gets from an idea. Like her stained glass, Sherrill’s eyes shimmer when she talks about her art. “I truly believe that what you put into something does shine through. Glass sparkles; it changes [with the light] throughout the day. Even on a gloomy day, a piece will catch a glint, and it can change a mood. I want my pieces to be a light.”
Learn more about Sherrill’s artwork at sherrillsartglass.com, and check out her exhibit at Centre Stage until January 10. She also holds shows at her home in April and October, and participates in Open Studios in November.