Education, influences and characteristics of the work
MacNeill studied at the Philadelphia College of Art, the Massachusetts College of Art  and received her BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design in 1976. She was introduced to glassmaking at the Massachusetts College of Art where she also met her husband, glass and metal sculptor Dan Dailey. She has taught in glass and sculpture programs including the Pilchuck Glass School, Haystack Mountain School of Crafts, Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Boston, Philadelphia College of Art, Waterford Crystal and the Miasa Center and Niijima Glass Art Museum in Japan.
MacNeil sets great store by the "wearability" of her pieces as well as on perfect execution. In 2002 a book was published, United in Beauty: The Jewelry and Collectors of Linda MacNeil with portraits of eighty women wearing pieces created by MacNeil. In the introductory essay, Helen W. Drutt English notes: 'Like Olaf Skoogfors and Toni Goessler-Snyder before her, she can claim to be a constructivist whose passion for geometric forms allows her to create works that are compositions in themselves - independent of the wearer.'
Kate Dobbs Ariail writing in Metalsmith about the Mint Museum of Craft & Design's exhibit; "Sculptural Radiance: The Jewelry and Objects of Linda MacNeil" notes that "MacNeil evidences an unusually nuanced appreciation of her material. Her use of a variety of types of glass, along with various finishing techniques, gives her an unexpectedly broad palette of hue, value, tint and reflectivity, so that her crisp design takes on a painterly tone."  Commenting on the same exhibition, Joan Falconer Byrd, professor of art at Western Carolina University, notes that 'MacNeil commands an extensive vocabulary of metal fabricating techniques.' For much of her career, MacNeil favored brass that she then had electroplated with gold.
MacNeil individually casts and hand carves or otherwise manipulates each of the glass elements in her neck pieces, ear rings and brooches.Art Jewelry Today published in 2003, identifies MacNeil as a pioneer in the use of glass in contemporary jewelry, while making reference to historic precedents.
One of the glass making techniques Linda employs is lost wax casting with pâte de verre (see Nile Grass below)to create intricate shapes with great surface detail. Her work was chosen as an example of this technique, which was very popular in the nineteenth century Art Deco movement, by Jeffrey B. Snyder in Art Jewelry Today 2
Other pieces use polished Vitriolite (see Elements below), a dense, opaque, industrial glass made prior to the 1940s, often in pieces that are a reinterpretation of Art Deco; some, such as the Lucent Lines series (see below), use acid-polished glass with gold connecting rods drilled through using the visual distortions of glass to create shifting geometric patterns. Some rigid collars from the late 1980s and early 1990s were inspired in part by Bronze Age Celtic neckpieces and Egyptian jewelry while others again reference the Art Deco period.
|Nile Grass 2002
Includes pâte de verre
|Lucent Lines 2004||Neck Collar 2010
Acid polished clear glass;
mirror laminated yellow glass.
Polished cream and black Vitrolite glass.
Series, start date
Many of the series have persisted and developed over several decades
- Elements, late 1970s
- Lucent Lines, 1980s
- Neck collars, 1980's
- Capsules, late 1980s
- Ram's Horn, 1990s
- Mesh, 1990s
- Nexus, late 1990s
- Floral, 2000's
- Lotus, late 1990s
- Mirrored, 1990s
- Cleveland Museum of Art, Cleveland, OH
- Corning Museum of Glass, Corning, NY
- Detroit Institute of Art, Detroit, MI
- Les Archives de la Cristallerie Daum, Nancy and Paris, France
- Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY
- Mint Museum of Craft + Design, Charlotte, NC
- Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, Montreal, Canada, New York, NY (Formerly, American Craft Museum)
- Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, MA
- Philadelphia Museum of Art, Philadelphia, PA
- Racine Art Museum, Racine, WI
- Renwick Gallery, Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington, DC
- Rhode Island School of Design Museum, Providence, RI
- J. B. Speed Art Museum, Louisville, KY
- Toledo Museum of Art, Toledo, OH
- Victoria and Albert Museum, London, England
- Byrd, Joan Falconer, Review Linda MacNeill, American Craft, March/ April 2004
- Ramljak, Suzanne, United in Beauty: The Jewelry and Collectors of Linda MacNeil, 2002, Schiffer Publishing, ISBN 0-7643-1712-1
- Klotz, Uta M., Linda MacNeil: Wearable Art, Neues Glas, Winter, 2003 pp10-17
- Ariail, Kate Dobbs, Metalsmith, Summer 2004.
- Patterson, Tom,A Jewel of Creativity, Winston-Salem Journal, October 12, 2003
- Meilach, Dona Z., Art Jewelry Today, Schiffer Publishing Ltd., 2003, ISBN 0-7643-1766-0
- Snyder, Jeffrey B.Art Jewelry Today 2Schiffer Publishing, 2008
- Harris, Patricia and Lyon, David, Dan Dailey and Linda MacNeil: Art in Glass and Metal, page 39