Artist’s work is a seed for charity
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Visit www.glazeware.com and treesthatfeed.org.
Updated: November 20, 2012 5:22PM
NORTHFIELD — Walking into Mary McLaughlin’s Northfield artist studio, metal baker racks of heirloom giftware showcase gold-rimmed plates, including Chicago NATO Summit custom glazeware prized by U.S. Presidents.
McLaughlin, a 12-year Winnetka resident (and former 10-year Wilmette resident) is a petroleum geologist who decided to pursue a passion.
That American dream created McLaughlin Glazeware, Inc., which has provided custom giftware to U.S. Presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the May 2012 Chicago NATO Summit.
A bowl of the Chicago skyline reads: “Presented by Barack Obama President of the United States and Mrs. Michelle Obama on the occasion of the NATO Summit May 20-21, 2012 Chicago, Illinois.”
The State Department commissioned McLaughlin to create the pieces.
“I did gifts that President Obama gave to other presidents,” said McLaughlin, proudly, of the Chicago NATO Summit.
Hillary Rodham Clinton has Park Ridge roots and has invited McLaughlin to dinner.
“We used American-made Pickard china. All of the work was decorated here in Northfield, Ill.,” said McLaughlin, who has several employees, both full and part-time.
“So it was just perfect, the meeting was here (in Chicago), President Obama is from Illinois and an Illinois company made the gifts.”
The artist and her husband Mike have two daughters.
Rachel is a Chicago lawyer. Marian, also of Chicago, works in pharmaceutical sales. Both are New Trier High School graduates.
Five years ago, the artist started the Trees That Feed Foundation, which is supported by McLaughlin Glazeware, Inc. McLaughlin has a special place in her heart (and studio) for a tree that grows breadfruit which provides flour for families in the Caribbean.
Toasted breadfruit tastes like a bagel, she said.
“I understand the value of fruit trees. We plant trees, which absorb carbon dioxide, help the environment, but they’re also feeding people, and helping to develop the local economy,” said McLaughlin, who is from Jamaica.
McLaughlin feels blessed at Thanksgiving and year round.
“I absolutely love what I do, I wake up everyday and I jump out of bed,” said McLaughlin, who felt the need “to reinvent myself,” after leaving Texas where she worked as a geologist. The scientist in the artist appreciates the chemistry which binds glazes to porcelain.
While there are no trees on the NATO bowl of the Chicago skyline, (which includes the Ferris wheel and Art Institute), the artifact represents the fruit of McLaughlin’s labor.
“So the fruit from my labor goes to plant trees that produce fruit. This is like a seed,” she said, of the bowl.