SIDNEY — A Sidney artist hopes to open a glass-blowing studio here soon.
Dominic Knepper has begun a Kickstarter campaign online to raise the $12,000 he says it will cost to get “everything going.” The campaign allows people to pledge donations, which will be collected only if the full $12,000 is pledged by the deadline date of Aug. 19. The link to the campaign is www.kickstarter.com/projects/10189105/phoenix-fire-glassworks.
Knepper comes from an artistic family. His father, Dan, is a retired art teacher and accomplished painter. His brother, Jordan, directs the Piqua Arts Council.
Dominic became enthralled with glass blowing when he was a youngster.
“Dad was a glass blower in college. When I was 6, I used to look in the studio doors and see him dong it. ‘Wow! I want to do that,’ (I thought). I went to Bowling Green and had the same professor he had,” Knepper said. Bud Hurlston helped him get a Bachelor of Fine Arts in glass blowing and drawing.
Following college, Knepper moved to Las Vegas, where he worked at setting up computer programs for embroidery machines. After a year and a half, he returned to Ohio and served as a computer technician for Staples for six and a half years. Now, he envisions being his own boss, creating glass pieces on commission from businesses and individuals for 40 hours a week and teaching glass-blowing classes for 20 hours a week.
“In Vegas, I had a good-sized kiln, so I did kiln-formed glass. Here, I have limited equipment, so I do beads and marbles,” he said.
Kiln-formed glass starts out as sheets of different colors of glass, he said.
“You cut out shapes and you fit them together, kind of like a puzzle,” he added, “like stained glass but with no space between pieces. The kiln fuses the glass pieces. Then they are slumped over a mold.” To make beads and marbles, he heats glass rods on a mandrel, a steel rod.
“Heat and gravity help it round up. When it’s cooled, you slide it off the mandrel,” he said.
The $12,000 he wants to raise won’t buy him glass-blowing equipment. It will buy him the materials he needs to make the equipment himself. Once everything is built and tested, he hopes to have glass items ready to sell for Christmas. After that, he will market items in his shop and at craft fairs through the summer and online all year long.
His plans call for making ornaments and commissioned items along with his favorites — vessels: “everything from cups to huge planters to everything in between,” he said. “I definitely tend toward the useful. I’ve never been much of an abstract guy.”
Italian glass master Lino Tagliapuetra and Dante Salvadore are his inspiration.
“If I could do nothing but stand in front of the furnace for the rest of my life, it would be wonderful,” Knepper said.
Reach the writer at 937-538-4824. Follow her on Twitter @PASpeelmanSDN.