When Fred and Jan Heins moved to River Landing at Sandy Ridge in early March of 2020, Fred brought a wonderful pastime with him that has caught the eye of folks in the community. He creates framed stained glass works of art, some of which you can see on display on occasion in the River Landing gift shop.

Fred picked up the hobby in the early 1980s when he and Jan were living and working in central Illinois. “In the winter, it was too flat to ski and too cold to do anything else outside,” he says. One year, Jan got him a stained-glass kit for Christmas to try and he was hooked. He signed up for a series of evening classes in the subject at their local community college and since then has created pieces for friends, family and even some paying customers.

The largest piece he has created so far was for a sidelight, an eight-inch wide by eight-feet tall piece created to complement the front door of a friend’s house.

Mostly, he creates smaller framed pieces, called suncatchers, featuring anything from golfers to birds and flowers. He even creates Halloween and Christmas-themed versions, orders for which have kept him busy off and on over the years.

At the height of their popularity (before he retired), this hobby took up a lot of his free time. “I’d come home from work and get to work on them, come up for dinner, then back at it until late,” says Fred adds.

“I never did this to make money,” he adds. “I just enjoyed it and wanted to keep doing it.

Each piece takes at least three to four hours to complete. The more complex or curved the design, the more time they take. “But I tend to work on them for a little bit. Then come back to them later,” he explains. Although Fred claims to not have any real artistic ability (“I can’t even draw a straight line,” he jokes), he certainly has an eye for color. He gets ideas for his designs from books, nature and online resources. He’s working on one now of a neighbor’s Siamese cat using a photograph for reference. He has even used a flower pattern from an old bedspread as inspiration.

Fred and Jan retired in 1999 and moved from Illinois to Carolina Trace in Sanford, NC, in 2002 to pursue one of their shared passions — golf. They came to River Landing just ahead of the pandemic. And despite the safety protocols, the couple was able to settle in quickly and enjoy getting out to play golf as soon as it became safe to do so.

And with more time on his hands, Fred, who quickly carved out some workshop space in their new cottage, dove right into creating new works of stained-glass art.

Now that much of the River Landing community is fully vaccinated against COVID-19 and the weather has warmed, Fred and Jan are enjoying meeting more of their “new” neighbors, playing many rounds of golf and taking advantage of the new clubhouse and fitness center.


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