By Marguerite Cleveland
 
The glass Salmon and Trout appear ready to leap into the Columbia River with their striking colors and dramatic shapes. The fish are a few of the many items created by artist Andy Nichols at his studio in The Dalles.
 
Founded by Nichols in 1998, Nichols Art Glass had humble beginnings in a garage. After trying his hand at other art media, he discovered glass blowing. Nichols set about honing his skills and building his own equipment. His distinctive pieces and creative vision have led to success and his work is displayed in galleries across the Northwest. Locally his larger installations can be seen in lodges and hotels around the area. In 2001, he moved into a larger space and then opened a gallery in 2006.
 
Nichols started off making vases and bowls which is what he learned to do during his training. He began experimenting with making fish for fun and did this for a few years until he became good at it. “Water has been a big part of my life. I like to fish and spent time scuba diving. I also worked at the Oregon coast for 17 years.” he said. A suggestion that he focus on one thing and get good at it resonated with Nichols and he began focusing on the fish of the Columbia River. “It has been a fun journey capturing the essence of a fish.”
 
Nichols also does larger commissions with a water theme. “Due to my connections on the coast, my first big commission was a larger Chandelier for the Ocean Lodge at Cannon Beach. This helped launch my career,” he said.
 
Nichols recently remodeled to a smaller gallery and made room for a larger studio. He now works more on his artwork rather than running his gallery which no longer has set hours. “I like people and they are welcome to stop by and watch me work or tour the gallery. I am usually here 5 days a week or they can call and make an appointment.
 
Nichols Art Glass, Drop-in or by appointment, 912 W 6th St, The Dalles, 541.296.2143, nicholsartglass@gorge.net

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