Meet the Artist: J David Norton, J David Norton Glass

Glass that carves a pathway to the soul.

By Kelli Comer

“Do whatever brings you to life, then. Follow your own fascinations, obsessions and compulsions. Trust them. Create whatever causes a revolution in your heart.” —Big Magic

This quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, of Eat, Pray, Love fame, came to mind upon hearing our artist’s story this month. J David Norton is the recipient of the coveted Akron Art Prize for 2016. David, a licensed barber and salon owner for several years, was motivated to find a passage outside the salon door to let his creativity shine.


David sought out the craft of stained glass and created custom window installations. Eventually he put his stained glass vocation behind him, feeling limited by the lead lines, and instead discovered another glass art that piqued his interest.

“I discovered fused glass, which incorporates colored crushed glass to get a more painterly effect. My work focused on landscapes and evolved into three-dimensional scenery,” says David.

This fascinating creative revelation led David to train in Italy for a few weeks under an artist who is a master in fused glass imagery. David uses innovative techniques honed from that experience, as well as new techniques he discovered within himself along the way.

“My current work consists of one-inch-thick slabs of 3-D glass. They are composed of layers of clear sheet glass, colored crushed glass and torch-formed strings of glass,” David explains. “Each piece requires about 12 kiln firings. I then back the completed piece with LED light boards.”

David’s intention is to create landscapes that invite the viewer to cross a threshold and enter a peaceful, serene place.


He continues to work in his salon three days a week, allowing him long weekends to travel to shows throughout the country and time to devote to his fused glass handiwork. He regularly participates in shows throughout the country, in cities including Philadelphia, Chicago and Charlotte. His work appears in galleries in Dallas and Boca Raton.

“The Akron Art Prize was great exposure in my home city. I feel validated by receiving the award from nationally known artist Woodrow Nash, my artist peers and the voting public,” smiles David.

To reach David, you can email him at David’s work can be found on his website at and on Facebook at J David Norton Glass.