Glass Artist Finds the Charm in Chimes

Laura Alleman was rooting around in her mother's basement five years ago when she stumbled onto three saucers made of pale pink Depression glass.

They had belonged to her grandmother, who died when Alleman was 9 years old.

Alleman, a stained glass artist, decided to find a way to preserve the glass treasures for herself, her brother and her sister. She settled on wind chimes -- a concept beautiful in its simplicity and proving to be a big hit with the public. "It started out as a nice memento of our grandmother, a nice little heirloom," said Alleman. "And now I just make them by the dozens."

Alleman, owner of Nanny's Attic in Morgan County's Mountain Green, was selling her wares over the weekend at the Spring 2003 Antique and Collectors' Fair at the South Towne Exhibition Center in Sandy. Her hanging wind chimes are made with Depression glass, china cups and saucers and sugar-bowl and butter-dish lids. She solders a network of lead channeling around the saucer and adds a filigree of loops, on which the chimes' "dangles," made of matching stained-glass pieces, hang from nylon line. Most pieces measure between 24 inches and 27 inches from top to bottom. Alleman emphasizes the pieces are not damaged in any way in the process and can thus be preserved for generations.

The exhibit stood out for a couple of reasons. It was unique among the usual primitive country furniture, war memorabilia, art deco statuary and other mainstays of antique shows. And the chimes are priced reasonably, ranging from $30 to $40 each.

The soft tinkling of the chimes and the pale colors catching the light drew browsers from across the room. "I love wind chimes and the idea she has captured of bringing the old and the new together," said Anine Kerr of Riverton. "I've been going to antique shows forever and you always see these lovely old items that you really can't use. But she's taken these old treasures and found a bright new way of looking at them."

It was Kerr's birthday. Her mother bought her a pale pink glass chime as a gift. Alleman has worked in stained glass for 25 years and keeps a home studio. As word of mouth travels about her chimes, she has taken more work on commission. "It's a lovely way to preserve a precious piece of the past. People will bring me pieces that are precious to them. They like the idea of hanging something lovely in a window and remembering someone they love."

She spends much of her spare time haunting garage sales and flea markets for pieces that catch her eye. Any leftover glass, china and even antique brooches, sometimes used for chimes, end up as materials for tiny trinket boxes and jewelry cases. "I can't throw anything away," she said. "My husband goes crazy with all the broken glass pieces and leftovers around. But I can always find a use for something," she says.

Unlike most other dealers who exhibited at the weekend show, Alleman is new to the trade. She has shown her work only once before, at an antiques fair last year in Ogden. Her appreciation for antiques was gradual, an evolutionary process.

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