Three years ago, stained glass artist and jewelry maker Neile Cooper was realizing that her success in jewelry making was leaving her missing the depth of work that her first love of stained glass commissions had brought her. Missing her original trade of creating beautifully detailed stained glass panels — combined with a passion for cabins and small living — Neile and her partner, Robert Giaquinta (a private tutor), decided to add a stained glass cabin to the one-and-a-half acre property that they’ve lived on for 16 years. Robert and Neile share their home with their two cats: their beloved 16-year-old Clarence and their one-year-old “terror,” Utah, who, they admit, do not live in peace together.
Neile shares, “Lake Mohawk, NJ is a sort of magical place, a storybook Tudor style lakeside town, the headwaters of the Wallkill River, awesome for swimming.” Despite the majesty of their surroundings, both Neile and Robert grew up in Northwest New Jersey and have debated moving out west, or up to Vermont. Building their glass cabin was a way to renew their inspiration and love for where they’re calling home, at least for now. Neile had been researching shed construction for a while, and in order to chase off a depression, she realized that just jumping in was the best course of action. Admittedly, Neile quickly found herself in over her head, but luckily had a handy father-in-law she could enlist to assist. They quickly built the frame and installed the reclaimed windows (everything in the cabin was repurposed from Craigslist, garage sales, Habitat For Humanity Re-Store, and hand-me-downs). You wouldn’t know looking at it now, but Neile says that three years later, she still has more she’s dreaming of doing to her magical 99-square-foot glass cabin. Her process is that she removes each window, repairs the frames, removes the old glass, and installs her new designs in their place. While the building of the glass cabin was somewhat simple, it’s obvious that Neile’s creations are anything but. The intricate designs in her stained glass creations are the same concepts she applies to her jewelry designs as well, going so far as to encase butterfly wings (ethically sourced!) in glass.
The roof was one of the most difficult parts of the process, but Neile knew she had to stay true to her vision of an all-glass cabin. It took a few tries, but eventually with some protective and water-tight sheets of lexan, the old tarp could be removed and you could once again see out to the beautiful wooded surroundings. The French doors are also set to be replaced, but as they were free from a friend, they’ll do for now. Neile wants to continue to finish the interior and create the multi-functional space she envisioned for guests, yoga, or a romantic dinner, and we’re so glad that she promises that if they do ever move, she’ll bring the glass cabin with them!
In addition to the glass cabin being an inspiring and motivating project for Neile, her goal also was, “for the glass designs to create a fantasy, an oversized dream forest. All of my favorite things are represented. I want to make work that I am proud of.” We certainly feel that this is something to be deeply proud of! To see more of Neile’s inspiring work and constantly evlolving glass cabin — and what inspired her design — flip through her awe-inspiring images. –Rebekah