A Perfect Fit: Deanna Clayton and D.C. Studios

Glass artist Deanna Clayton recently opened D.C. Studios, Inc., after dramatically transforming the space that formerly housed Something Fishy.

“It was a last minute decision,” Clayton says of buying the store. “It went up for sale, and I was flustered one day and thought, ‘I’m gonna do this thing.’”

A similar circumstance – seemingly on a whim – brought Deanna and her husband Keith to Door County seven years ago. The couple had met in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where Deanna was raised. They lived in Kent, Ohio for a time before moving to Champagne, Illinois, where they ran an independent glass studio and Deanna earned her BA in Art History from the University of Illinois, Champagne-Urbana.

“Edgewood Orchard showcased our work,” Clayton says. “We came one day to view the show, and a month later we bought a house.”

Now the Claytons are the proud parents of three children and own the K. Allen Gallery, located on the corner of Highway 57 and County Road Q, which showcases larger glass vessels as well as work by other artists.

“We collaborated in the beginning,” she says of her and her husband’s craft. “But now we do separate bodies of work.”

“This is a perfect fit for what I’m doing,” she says of the new D.C. Studios space, a venue not only for herself but a variety of artists including John Whitney, Taylor Mueller, and Marcie Stark.

“Some are artists I’ve met over the years; some are local,” she says. During her ventures in the glass art scene throughout the years, she was also introduced to “fantastic artists who would recommend others,” she says. After viewing their work, she invited them to exhibit in her gallery.

Professionally, Clayton has been creating glass vessels for 16 years. In the current space, appealing to the casual shopper, she has introduced a line of collectable, one-of-a-kind smaller cast boxes, available in the store for a limited time.

Deanna’s growing interest in jewelry also influenced her to set up a small workshop space in the new gallery to hone her skills.

“I create a couple of [jewelry] pieces a year,” she says. “I love it – but I am still selling my glass pieces.”

Recently, Clayton shipped pieces to Germany. She also has pieces available in galleries in Florida, Colorado, and Michigan.

Her work is also on display at the Mayo Clinic’s gallery in Rochester, Minnesota, a Ritz Carlton in North Carolina, the Four Seasons in Miami, and “somewhere in the Cayman Islands,” she says. Special commissions include creating a glass ornament for the White House Christmas Tree during the Clinton Administration, and she also created glass pieces which were awarded to the winners of the LPGA tournament for five years in a row.

Her national (and now international) recognition and fine skill with glass is impressive, especially for one who “stumbled upon glass in college,” as she puts it. “I took a really fun glass class.” Though the final product is glass, Clayton works primarily with wax.

“I spend a lot of time with wax, creating patterns, carving,” she says. “Ninety percent of my time is with wax.” She describes her style as a “painterly style, [utilizing] layers and layers of colors. Some of my pieces have five different colors.”

“Glass is a new medium,” she says. “It’s open to experimentation.” Clayton’s experimentation within the medium has been working on figurative drapery studies. “Drapery studies are challenging,” she says, “creating veils out of glass.”

But the focus these days is the new space. On June 25, she officially toasted to opening of her new gallery with friends, family, and visitors alike. And though a large amount of work has been put into the space, she hopes to carry it further and “utilize the courtyard,” she says. Outside the gallery, she hopes to feature furniture by Joel Thomas and also include large sculpture pieces.

“People are shocked when they walk in,” she admits. The space offers fine art appeal, in a smaller, more causal space.

“I love this store,” she says, looking around her new gallery.

And for those worried about the fate of Something Fishy, it has simply moved down the road to a larger space.

D.C. Studios, Inc., open daily from 10 am – 5 pm, is located at 7769 Highway 42 in Egg Harbor. For more information call 920.421.1604 or email [email protected].