By Gina Malone
When glass artist Asher Holman looked for a place to live and open a studio, our own artistic mecca Asheville beat out his native San Francisco. At the time, he had already found Asheville, but he and his partner Leslie traveled to San Francisco to try it on for size. “What I found was that there did not seem to be the same type of glass—or general—art community that there is here in Asheville,” Holman says. “I did not feel like the market for my work, or what a shop like mine has to offer in terms of experience, was any better out there.”
So, already settled and satisfied in West Asheville, he jumped at the chance to open his own studio right in his neighborhood when a building he had had his eye on for some time came available. Last year, he opened Small Batch Glass, a working studio and gallery on Craven Street, across from New Belgium Brewing. “I am producing work in my studio five days a week,” Holman says. “The work ranges from custom-ordered to inventory for my gallery, and sometimes I’m just experimenting with new ideas. A lot of artists that I admire spent their careers constantly producing work; I feel it is a really important part of getting ideas out as well as honing your skills and craft as an artist.”
Holman discovered glassblowing as a restless 16-year-old attending a class at San Francisco’s Public Glass, a non-profit public access glass studio and school. “I was immediately hooked,” he says. “I signed up for as many classes as I could and volunteered to help out around the shop just to hang out there.” When he began considering colleges, he had not yet decided to make art his career, but he knew that he wanted to find a school that would afford him access to a glass shop so that he could continue to explore the craft. He chose Centre College in Danville, KY, and spent the next four years there as a studio art major with a focus on glass. “The professor, Stephen Powell, was a world-renowned glass artist and became a very important mentor to me,” Holman says. “In my time at Centre and in the years after, he really encouraged me and was so generous in bringing me into the world of being a professional glass artist.” In Kentucky, Holman has work in two galleries: Trifecta: Glass – Art – Lounge, in Lexington, and Flame Run, in Louisville.
After graduation, a job with Lexington Glassworks brought Holman to Asheville. “I worked there for three-and-a-half years and learned a ton about what goes into being a full-time artist and running a business around it,” he says.
All of his work is made of blown glass. “Vessels are typically a single bubble that has glass color applied and then is shaped into its form,” Holman says. “My sculptures are made modularly by fusing blown glass components together in a kiln to create a larger, more abstract form.”
Visitors to his working studio can watch the magic as he creates well-crafted and beautiful objects that include bowls, cups, drinking glasses and bud vases. Some of his work, functional and decorative pieces and more conceptual creations, uses techniques inspired by Italian glassmakers and by the process of manufacturing glass for lighthouse lenses.
“When I am making my art, I feel that time passes differently and is almost irrelevant,” Holman says. “It’s a unique headspace to be in—and is really what made me fall in love with working with glass in the first place.”
See Asher Holman’s glass creations and watch him work at Small Batch Glass at 46 Craven Street, Asheville, across from New Belgium Brewing. Hours are Monday, Thursday and Friday, 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday, 12–6 p.m. His work is also available locally at NC Glass Center. To learn more, visit SmallBatchGlassCompany.com and follow on Instagram @smallbatchglasscompany.