SAN DIEGO -- Eric Cantrell and Kevin Childers have created a budding business called Eric’s Glass Works that is an act of love for the young married couple.
Cantrell has been trained in the art of fusing glass for four years now and Childers finally caved two years ago and wanted in on the action.
“I used to come down here and look at them doing it and think ‘that is such a waste of time,’” Childers said, joking about his initial reluctance to start fusing glass. “Now, I’m in the studio almost every day after work. I run home, take Spot for a walk and grab half a sandwich to hold me over. Eric will come home, peek in and say, ‘Come on Spot, let’s go upstairs.’ Eric is a lot more paced in his work than I am.”
Fusing glass is a process that involves cutting glass into forms or shapes and then placing them very carefully into a kiln to fuse the pieces together. It may sound simple, but it’s a very time-intensive process if you’re looking to do something spectacular or intricate.
Depending on the desired look of the artwork, projects can take anywhere from an hour to piece together to a few weeks. The process can be long, arduous and expensive, but ultimately it’s very rewarding when you get to see a work of art that you created with your own hands.
Cantrell was the initial driving force behind the glass-works hobby that slowly is progressing into a bona fide business for the couple. After spending his younger years drawing, painting, using watercolors and other canvas-based artwork, Cantrell said he found his calling in fusing glass.
“It wasn’t until four years ago when I was on Ray Street [in North Park] and I saw a piece of fused glass that was in a shop and I was completely taken by it,” Cantrell said. “I had always seen blown glass before and that just looks different, but the fused glass, I saw it and I was just amazed. I had to learn how to do that. And then I found also on Ray Street, the Art Department does lessons. I met Bonnie Dull who teaches those classes and her family has been doing glass for generations, so I learned from her and I’ve been going after it since then.”
Childers and Cantrell have been building up clientele and making a name for themselves in the glass community while also holding down their day jobs, so the progression from 9-to-5 kind of guys to full-time artists has been slow moving.
“We’ve talked about a studio. Eric has wanted to become a small-business owner and so the glass shop is one of those things,” Childers said. “He also really loves cooking and baking, so he’s always wanted a bakery or a café. Now that we’re doing the glass, we’re thinking a glass studio and I had the idea that we should do a combo. Why don’t we have a café in the front where we can display other artists work on the walls and then in the back have an actual glass studio where you do the fusing and cutting.”
“We want to have a place for students and be able to have workspace for glass artists to come in and have kilns available for them to use,” Cantrell said. “And being able to buy all of the glass supplies there would be huge, glass supplies in San Diego are really expensive, so selling those at more affordable prices would be great. We also want to incorporate a coffee shop for people to hang out at and be able to see the work that artists are doing.”
Cantrell and Childers have been together for eight years and married for three years. They complement each other so perfectly, you have a hard time imagining one without the other. The two are both charming, funny and you can tell that they really do love what they’re doing, their eyes light up when they talk about their future plans for the business.
Currently Cantrell and Childers are renting out kiln time to fellow artists to help cover some of the expenses of having their electric bill triple, the pricey glass they work with and the cost of purchasing the kiln. Another avenue that they have been exploring is offering lessons for those who are new to fused glass and need some information and kiln time to see if they like the process. Prices for lessons vary but you can go for one hour and come back the next week to pick up your new fused glass piece.
Eric’s Glass Works has had a slew of events where they have been selling their wares over the past few years including the North Park Festival of the Arts, San Diego Pride Festival, CityFest and the Adams Avenue Street Fair.
To find out more about fusing glass or purchasing a piece of art, go HERE.