Glass Art at the Intersection of Entrepreneurship and Creativity
Since its founding, Baltimore’s streets and boulevards have served as a vibrant home to the workshops and studios of artists and craftsmen. From the nation’s oldest ironworks on Saratoga Street to the century-old sculptor’s studio on Lafayette, the Monument City maintains a centuries-long tradition of housing creative innovation.
Today, on Baltimore’s Eastern Avenue, glass artist Tim McFadden continues this tradition with his glassblowing studio and gallery, McFadden Art Glass. Tim, a Towson native and graduate of Loyola Blakefield, found his love of glassblowing in 2001 while a student at Salisbury University, though he had never planned to study the arts.
“Initially, I went to Salisbury to play lacrosse, go to the beach. To do all the fun stuff available to students,” he says.
However, Tim’s brother, who was a senior at Salisbury at the time, encouraged him to enroll in an upper-level glassblowing class that would waive any necessary prerequisites.
“I had seen all the cool stuff my brother was bringing home from these classes and decided to give it a shot,” he says.
Following that first class, he was hooked. Tim spent the next five years studying glassblowing and business management, developing a marketing plan that would allow him to turn his newfound passion for glassblowing into a full-time career.
After graduating from Salisbury, Tim returned to Baltimore with the intention of opening his own glassblowing studio. Locating a property in Baltimore’s Eastwood neighborhood, he designed, built and opened his own studio in the fall of 2006. The studio, which serves as a gallery, workspace and classroom, has grown into one of the greater Baltimore area’s primary sources of glass art education.
“Despite the city’s large arts scene and historical relationship with glass, Baltimore is not a town all that familiar with glassblowing,” he says. “I really had to introduce and build from the ground up Baltimore’s awareness of glassblowing as an art form and pastime.”
Since opening his studio, Tim has kept up a steady stream of personal artistic production and community engagement. In addition to selling his works at a gallery attached to his studio, he is represented by Baltimore’s Smyth Jewelers as well as the Renaissance Fine Arts Gallery in the Village of Cross Keys.
In 2011, he partnered with Aric Wanveer, a renowned metal worker, to found Zero Gravity Creations, a Baltimore-based company that works to provide cutting-edge innovation in glass and metal working. Through his work with Aric, Tim and Gravity Creations have received patents for a process that fuses metal and glass together, making it airtight and waterproof. This process has allowed Tim and Aric to develop various other artistic enterprises such as their boutique construction company, Magma Build Studios, and Tapologie, which designs both lights and tap handles for bars, breweries and restaurants. Many of Baltimore’s most popular bars and eateries have adopted Tim’s dynamic designs in their own spaces including Banditos and Blue Agave, staples of the Federal Hill culinary scene.
While he continues to explore new and dynamic ways to apply his craft, Tim maintains an open class schedule for the curious and enthusiastic at his studio in the Eastwood neighborhood as well as various community outreach programs for glassblowing education. Due to Baltimore’s relative unfamiliarity with glassblowing, Tim focuses on offering small-scale beginner classes that provide individual attention and encouragement with a focus on mastering the fundamentals of glass blowing.
“All the work in and outside the studio is meant to give people a better appreciation for glassblowing,” he says. “Because it’s not just art, it’s also a lot of fun.”