A lover of the wilderness and a longtime resident of the northern Arizona canyon country, Christina finds inspiration in the earth and sky. Her work embraces the spiritual and metaphysical, referencing the sacred through the use of exotic textures and materials, as well as through images of flora and fauna. Working in the river business for over 10 years she fell in love with the incredible design and rythum of the canyons and rivers of the southwest. The power and presence of earth & sky are her muse.
“I was born needing to create, fabricate, draw, anything and everything that would keep my hands busy and my mind flowing.
I took my first stained glass class in 1997. I knew immediately that this medium was the right fit. The intensity of the colors in the glass was what I had been seeking. When tried my hand at painting, water color, oils and acrylics, I could never get the paint to the right brightness or luminosity, it always seemed to fade. But the immense variety of glass, WOW, it was perfect! I found myself buying sheets of glass with no intension of ever using them other then to set them in a sunny window and gaze upon the shear beauty of colors. And then there were all the tools. I love power tools! Grinders, drills, saws, soldering irons. What more could a girl ask for?
I began creating my kanji medallions when I was looking for positive reminders in my life. My passion for natural light and glass led me to find a simple beauty in the calligraphic design of Japanese kanji & Chinese characters. I combined the symbol and the glass through the technique of sandblasting to create a beautifully deep impression in the glass. These kanji medallions are a beautiful reminder of what we all want more of — happiness, compassion, love, vitality, prosperity... Over the years I have added other symbols of my own design into my medallion collection, there is no limit. Hanging a medallion on a wind chime you have a reminder every time you here it.”
When she isn’t creating chimes and medallions for The Artists Gallery in Flagstaff Arizona, she is designing and fabricating custom stained glass pieces for people. Contact me!
Christina received her B.F.A. in visual communication/graphic design in 1991. She was accepted into the Artists Gallery in November 2003.
Christina was born in Park Forest, a suburb of Chicago Il. She came to Arizona in 1974. She lives with loyal dog, Princes Lola In-The-Way, and little cat, Althea, in the small hamlet of Mountain Dell just outside of Flagstaff.
Look for my work at The Artists' Gallery in Flagstaff, Rare Finds Gallery at the Hillside Shops and Grandview Eclections in Old Town both in Sedona.
Raven's Eye Glassworks In The News
Flagstaff Live and Mountain Living Magazine
Below are several articles writen about the artist over the years.
FlagLive May 2-8, 2002
“Artist in Focus: Christina Norlin on Light” by Elizabeth Semmelmann
As I’m looking at the beautiful antique colored-bottles placed on the shelf catching the afternoon sunlight, I’m thinking Christina Norlin’s home studio is an exercise in the study of light. “I have this obsession for glass, light, and flowers,” the stained glass artist confesses as I look around. “The personality of the glass changes; from morning to evening it’s different.”
Norlin is the creatrix of amazing three-dimensional stained glass pieces, wind chimes made of copper tubes with patina and beveled-edge glass with sandblasted kanji symbols. You may have seen her pieces at Winter Sun Trading Co., Native Plant and Seed and at the recent Elemental Expressions show.
With her degree in graphic design and her artistic beginnings in acrylics, oils, and watercolors, Norlin’s adeptness with sculptural art surprises me. “I paint with glass,” was her response. “I don’t want to be locked into one medium. This is what has caught me right now,” she continues. I’m really enjoying the sculptural aspects.” She cites her influences as Georgia O’Keefe, Gustav Klimt and Louis Tiffany, who created the foil technique in stained glass.
Her day job is groundskeeper at Northern Arizona University, another “sculptural” art form. “I love gardening, the miracle of rebirth. It’s like, ‘How does that little seed make that big plant?”‘
Norlin’s love for nature expresses itself in her art. Images of ravens, suns and moons, datura flowers and hummingbirds often find their way into her glass, and you can find feathers and beautiful pieces of abalone shell hanging from them. Her sense of nature and art bring her a sense of spirituality: “Nature is my connection to God, the universe, the almighty power. That’s the biggest truth I’ve ever found,” she calmly tells me. “When I’m creating, I have such a s sense of God. That what I’m doing is what I’m supposed to be doing, that I’m on the right path. Any creativity, I feel a sense of spirit,” she continues.
Working her spirituality into her glass designs requires a lot of patience. Norlin comments that when working with the glass, “I can’t have any anger or anxiety in me, because you’re going to break the glass.” Norlin’s stained glass isn’t your average craft-kit design. Her care, artistic flair, and marriage of spirituality, nature and art comes to a beautiful culmination in her art. She comments, “it’s blissful when you have a breakthrough in a design.” All of her pieces are custom made Her powerful symbols are chosen for their sense of peace. “(All of my symbols are) symbols that I use in my life - to work for or bring more of into my life,” she says. The raven shows up in more than a couple pieces. Norlin explains, “They re magical. They have this outer essence of being kind of common, but they have a look in their eye.” Norlin describes her fascination with them on a recent trip in the canyon. “I was so jealous of their ability to get up and go.”
Within all her art, Norlin’s biggest priority is for beauty. “I surround myself with beautiful things, because there’s all this need for beauty in life,” she wisely tells me. “If you think light, the light will come to you.
If you are interested in a custom-designed art piece, you can reach Norlin at (928) 699-6824 or firstname.lastname@example.org
FlagLive October 24-30, 2002
“Stained Glass Artists” by Elizabeth Semmelmann
One of the beauties of stained glass is the way it interacts with light. Somehow, I think the stained glass artists in town are more than aware of these qualities—and learn to play with them in different ways. I was determined to find out how.
I interviewed artist Wally Blanchard at his studio/gallery in the Old Town Shops. I’ve admired his monarch butterfly piece for months. “It took me a solid month to cut out the filigrees for the butterflies,” Blanchard says. He works with the copper foil technique and often uses sheet copper foil adhesive to make a more detailed filigree, as in the butterfly design.
Blanchard considers his style “art nouveau” and cites Alphonse Mucha as an Inspiration. Blanchard especially likes the curvilinear, floral and natural aspect of his style. “I like working with curvy things,” he admits. With everything natural, there is a dark aspect that Blanchard likes to portray as well. “When you start using nature as a motif, you look deeper, and not all pretty. It gets messy—death stinks,” he says.
Getting the design down is the most challenging and intriguing part of the process to Blanchard. “There’s something about glass and the way you work with it. You have to put a lot of thought into it. The design part really intrigues me. That’s the part I like best. Cutting the glass is just schlog work,” he says. First, he draws out the cartoon, makes a copy on bond paper and velum tracing paper, and with pattern scissors, he cuts it out. Humbly, the artist states his take on it all. “I just see myself as a technician. I make pretty windows. I’m happy with that.”
Then I went to Christina Norlin’s home studio, Raven’s Eye Design. Norlin has a space with beautiful light, helpful when you’re working with a substance that plays with light like a cat toys with a ball of yarn. Norlin also displays her work at George Averbeck’s glass studio, Fire on the Mountain, on Birch Street. Like Blanchard, Norlin considers her style art nouveau and uses a copper foil technique, similar to Louis Tiffany.
Norlin confides she actually loves the labor. “I love cutting glass. Cutting and grinding glass is really industrial,” Norlin passionately reveals. “You’re working with a fragile substance, which is (also) incredilbly strong.” Each glass has its personality. As the piece continues to evolve, Norlin gets more excited about the process. “The fabrication is the best part of it. I get to use power tools! ” she exclaims.
I get a quick introduction to the different kinds of glass she uses. There’s flash glass, which is two pieces of glass fused together. One side is clear, the other is colored. This glass is especially interesting to sandblast, another of Norlin’s specialties, as the sandblasted area shows clear. There’s beveled glass, which has a tapered edge, good for medallions. Then there’s special Baroque, which is beautiful colored glass.
Vivienne Lynch, another emerging stained-glass artist whose work is displayed in Fire on the Mountain, is unique in that she uses the leaded technique in a traditional European style. Many of her pieces are etched and then painted. Themes she represents in her work include deer, legendary Celtic heroes, birds and female figures.
“Legend inspires me the most, from a sense of my Irish heritage,” Lynch says. Looking at Gothic cathedrals inspired her. “This is such an old art form that can live for so long and be so publicly available to people,” she muses. Traditionally, stained glass was re-leaded every 100 years.
Although Lynch admires the tradition and history of the art, she likes to play with the rules. Traditionally, you are taught to make the glass tight with the lead, not leaving any open spaces. “I like to leave open spaces on purpose. I like to play with that and make huge gaps,” she says. “I like to play with the rules attached to traditional crafts.”
For Lynch, the best part of the process is hammering out the lead. “I love the dirty part. You have to break the glass, and it’s dirty and nasty! Then you hammer the lead. It’s definitely heavy work,” she delightfully reveals. “The combination of delicate design and the heavy hard work is an interesting combination.”
“The glass field is exploding these days,” Blanchard says. “There are so many things you can do now.” Lynch agrees, saying, “Stained glass is looked on as a technical craft, but you can do a lot with it.” In Flagstaff, we’re lucky to get such innovative artists.