The Laurel Magazine

Laurel Magazine is a monthly magazine guiding you where to shop, play, dine, and stay in Highlands NC and Cashiers NC.

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  • Laurel Contributor

Breaking Lapidary Limits

By zach Claxton



The unique and exacting skills that form the foundation of Neal Hearn’s artistry will be examined in detail at the June meeting of the Art League of Highlands-Cashiers.

The June 24 meeting of the Art League of Highlands-Cashiers will feature local artist Neal Hearn.

Neal will tell you that he has always been an artist, although his formal education is in electrical engineering, business, and computer science, which led him to an entrepreneurial career, developing new and innovative software, pairing it with the emerging micro-computing hardware, and consulting with large and small companies that sought his technical solutions to business problems.

More recently, his background also includes creating videos and podcasts for social media and other presentations.

A native of Birmingham, Alabama, Neal’s love of the mountains led him to move full time to Franklin in the mid-nineties to pursue his passion for art full time, but the idea for his signature artwork dates back to the mid-eighties, when, on a visit to Gatlinburg, Tennessee, he saw some agate for sale and immediately wondered how the bands of color might be incorporated into a new art form. He left the store with all the agate they had. That chance encounter inspired the design of his unique glass boxes that won him an invitation to the prestigious Bluff Park Art Show in Birmingham, Alabama, where he was a much sought-after exhibitor for the next 22 years. His artwork now adorns homes around the world. While his boxes are to be found in galleries throughout the region, Neal still enjoys participating in fine art shows for the opportunity they afford him to interact with the admirers of his work.

At the upcoming meeting, Neal will describe the process of combining the skills of glass fusion, metalsmithing, enameling, soldering and lapidary that result in his one-of-a-kind creations. He maintains a web site, boxesbyneal.com that has links to informative YouTube videos.

The presentation will be at 5:00 P.M. in The Bascom atrium following a wine social at 4:30 P.M. Both the presentation and social are free and open to the public. For more information about the Art League, visit artleaguehighlands-cashiers.com.