South Charlotte

Charlotte author revives decades-old art form

While many today associate the name Tiffany with engagements rings and handcrafted jewelry, most overlook another piece of art the name represents.

Louis Comfort Tiffany's mosaics have made an impact on the life of Edith Crouch, giving her not only a recurring topic for books but a knowledge and passion for something that will stay with her for life.

"From my first visit to the Morse, I was dazzled by Tiffany's work in stained glass and his blown-glass pieces," Crouch, 55, recalled of her trips to the Florida art gallery.

Since then, Crouch, who lives in southeast Charlotte, has published two books: "The Mosaics of Louis Comfort Tiffany" and "Tiffany Studios' Techniques: Inspiration for Today's Artists."

Raised in the Panama Canal Zone, Crouch grew up with a taste for exotic art and culture.

"One summer, our family drove from Panama to the United States. ... I recall seeing glass being blown in Mexico ... and was entranced," Crouch said.

After receiving a bachelor's degree in art education and fine arts, as well as completing some post-graduate work in the field of graphic arts technology, Crouch expanded her cultural exposure by traveling to Italy to study Renaissance art history.

Crouch's move to Charlotte in 1997 prompted her to open her own studio, Stained Glass Arts.

By creating work for local homes, a hospital and chapel, as well as teaching numerous courses at the McColl Center for Visual Art and the Mint Museum of Art, Crouch made a name for herself in the community. It wasn't long before she realized that she wanted to write a book on Tiffany and his art.

She "realized there had been very little written about the mosaic work that his studios created," she said.

With a writing background developed through reading, college writing courses and work in corporate communications, Crouch submitted her book proposal to a publisher. A contract was signed within a month, and Crouch dove headfirst into her research.

Two years later, "The Mosaics of Louis Comfort Tiffany" was published.

The book focuses on Tiffany's work and is peppered with photos of his art, many of which were taken by Crouch's son, Ben.

"I enjoyed writing about how Tiffany pioneered the process of creating mosaics using his signature Favrile sheet glass," said Crouch. "I had always enjoyed reading about how he and his talented studio artists pioneered in every genre and medium that they created their masterpieces. ... Their techniques, materials and styles were all unique and original."

Curiosity about how Tiffany and his studio artists worked with each medium and how the pieces were created pushed Crouch toward her next book idea.

Tiffany's methods are explored more in depth in "Tiffany Studios' Techniques: Inspiration for Today's Artists." The book also shows related artwork by contemporary artists influenced by Tiffany.

Crouch lives with her husband and has a third book to be released in August. "The Mola Traditional Kuna Textile Art" is about a textile art form from Panama which heavily influenced her childhood, said Crouch.