After local glass artist Tom Chapman was diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s Disease) in the fall of 2012 and until his death the following year, he was reluctant to talk about his beloved Shiloh Hot Glass Studio, which he could no longer use.
Like any local glass blower, Chapman had to travel outside the area to learn and practice his chosen art form of glass, but finally built his own home studio in Harrison Twp.
Currently, there’s a Tom Chapman tribute room in the Dayton Art Institute’s Dayton Celebrates Glass exhibit, which runs through Sept. 28. It includes not only a piece of his blown glass (he’s also included in the DAI permanent collection), but also his bench, gloves, and some of his tools, borrowed from K12 Gallery, which hopes to refurbish his furnaces to create a Tom Chapman School of Glass.
“Tom directed me to do something with the studio, but not while he was alive,” said Pat Beckermann, a long-time friend and part-time assistant to Chapman. “After his death, his family needed to find a space for it, some place that would do the necessary and expensive work to rebuild the furnaces and get the permits to make it a public facility and provide a legacy for Tom. K12 Gallery was a fitting place.”
Jerri Stanard, founder and executive director of K12, said “The future Tom Chapman School of Glass will be available for hot glass time for artists now traveling long distances to make glass, and for teaching future glass artists.”
The floor area for the studio has been shaped, and furnaces and equipment have been moved to K12, but making it operational presents tremendous challenges. It will take special permits, construction and funding to bring it up to standards as a working public glass studio.
Local master glass blower Sabine Grand, well-known for her crepes at Second Street Market, is passionate about her role to make the studio a reality, but also knows the obstacles involved.
“We need plumbing, electrical and architectural work to put the equipment and space together,” Grand said. “This could be a good asset for downtown Dayton – wonderful for glass blowers who need to rent studio time, and for education. Glass blowing is fascinating and magical to watch or do, and we’d have demonstrations as well as educational training.”
Grand, whose role would be artist-in-residence, running the studio and teaching, now travels to a studio in Columbus to make her own glass art.
Next year, K12 plans to begin its fundraising efforts, starting with demonstrations of glass beads. “The glory holes, which keep glass hot while it’s worked, can be used without a furnace and could be set up and used now,” Grand noted.
Stanard is thrilled with the possibilities the glass studio would bring.
“This will open doors to K12 that were never open before,” she said. “Our goal is to expand programming in our new space, not just on what we offer, but also advanced levels of participation.”
The families of Beckermann and Chapman are looking forward to the studio in Chapman’s name becoming a reality.
“The stool and bench on view at DAI, where Tom sat to work hot glass with the pieces of equipment also on display, will return to K12 when the exhibit closes, and we’d love to see the Tom Chapman School of Glass built around them,” Beckermann said.
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