Tell us a bit about yourself.
My name is Dennis Smith. I am 33 years old, and live in the mountains of Asheville, North Carolina. I am the sole craftsman behind Flux Glass studio. I started working with glass about 13 years ago in Huntington, West Virginia. Throughout the years, I have worked in a number of stained glass studios and eventually made my way to North Carolina. Once in Asheville, I took a break from glass making and worked for a few years in the restaurant industry. Two years ago, I returned to glass, and decided to open my own studio.
Apart from creating things, what do you do?
When I have a chance to get out of the studio, I like to spend my days exploring the many rivers of western North Carolina for a nice swimming hole or trout fishing spot. In the evenings, I try to catch as much live music as possible. Because my girlfriend has a full-time job, I also do what I can to help her package and ship items from her shop, magnoliavintageco here on Etsy.
Where does your inspiration come from?
I have always been drawn to the simple, clean lines and shapes of modern design and architecture. I also draw inspiration from using recycled materials. I’m constantly looking for ways to make something practical and beautiful out of what others many consider useless.
What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade means buying products that are made to last, directly from people who love what they do as makers and take pride in their products. I love the quality and craftsmanship of objects from the past, and I am happy to see that people once again appreciate handmade items for the same reasons.
Who has been most influential in your craft?
As far as learning the art of stained glass, I must give much credit to Stevan Stanisic, one of the most talented glass artists working today. I studied under him for several years, and can’t thank him enough for teaching me a craft that many today consider a dying art. The support from my family and friends has provided me with the focus I need to continue and grow my business.
When did you know you were an artist/maker?
I can’t think of a specific time, but for as long I can remember, I have been making things with my hands. It wasn’t until my apprenticeship in stained glass, that I realized it is possible to make a living as an artist.
How would you describe your creative process?
I start by sketching out an idea and transferring that idea into a template. When the template is complete, the glass making process begins. All of my pieces are cut by hand, and after a number of steps, I end up with a finished piece. Sometimes I am proud of that finished piece, and sometimes I scrap it and start the process again.
If you could peek inside the studio of any artist, designer or craftsman (dead or alive), who would it be?
Frank Lloyd Wright. I am amazed and inspired by the fact that he was able to design a home from the inside out, from the furniture to the incredible stained glass that often encompassed entire walls.
What handmade possession do you most cherish?
My work tables are made from old doors and scrap wood, but I don’t necessarily “cherish” them. My grandfather gave me his father’s tackle box from the early 1900s. I’m not sure who actually made it, but I love the personal history and memories it represents.
How do you get out of your creative ruts?
Sometimes all it takes is a walk down the street for a cup of coffee/cold beverage with a friend or listening to a podcast of This American Life. When I need a longer break from the studio, I take a day or a weekend and head to surrounding mountain towns with my girlfriend and search through flea markets and thrift stores.
Where would you like to be in ten years?
I hope to be living happily right here in Asheville, working in an amazing studio space with plenty of natural light, and focusing more on large scale residential and commercial stained glass projects.