About Us

The Story Behind the Design

Charles Ottolini

For more than 30 years, I have designed and crafted radiant stained glass windows from my small studio tucked in the Smoky Mountains of east Tennessee. The surrounding countryside provides the inspiration, which I combine with technical expertise and craftsmanship to create artworks of lasting beauty.

Ottolini Studios has been designing and fabricating artworks for residential, commercial and religious environments since 1977. During this time I have learned to be sensitive to the architectural and environmental setting of the artwork and to my client’s aesthetic needs. My glass working skills include leaded, beveled and etched glass, specializing in fine hand painted, kiln-fired renderings of religious themes and the natural world.

Fabric art has fascinated me since a trip to the Museum of Modern Art in New York City more than 20 years ago. I purchased two scarves, which were reproductions of Henri Matisse’s paintings. The manner in which silk takes color amazed me. Brilliant, saturated colors!

Stained glass is brilliant, saturated color. Stained glass images would be perfect reproduced on silk. The idea remained in the back of my mind all these years- until recently. Late last year I decided to create a collection of beautiful textile products based on my stained glass designs and my love of color.

Starting this artistic endeavor has been both challenging and exciting. I’ve learned so much and am still exploring different processes for creating artful fashions and accessories from my stained glass designs. In an era when most textile designs are created digitally, my designs are individually handcrafted as paintings or stained glass pieces.

I was born in Toledo, Ohio and raised in Newark, Delaware. I come from a family of creative people. One grandfather was an architect and an artist. The other was a highly skilled craftsman as is my father. One of my brothers is an artist and a craftsman as well. I attended the Ringling School of Art in Sarasota, Florida and the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.

I was studying commercial art when I happened to visit the Ringling Museum of Art’s exhibition of Tiffany’s work. I was immediately hooked on the intense, clean colors that stained glass possessed.

As much as I enjoyed sitting and drawing or painting, I have always loved building things with my hands. Soon I was looking for opportunities to learn the stained glass craft. After several years working in other studios, I started my own business in east Tennessee. My desire to create and build is the impetus for my designs all being original artworks rather than digitally generated images. They are statements about your style, whether it is bold or subtle, contemporary or traditional, expressed in artworks you can wear.

I invite you to browse my scarf and handbag designs. In addition to what you see here, there are about 15 sketches for new designs, which will be released as the artworks are completed and a multitude of other ideas being formulated in my mind or scribbled on scraps of paper. Stay tuned for new collections and items, all handcrafted, reproduced and sewn in the United States.

Thank you.
Charles F. Ottolini


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