Z – Have you always lived in Chatham County?
Dimitri – I grew up here and went to the Carolina Friends school. I studied anthropology specializing in archeology in college.
I was a musician in New Orleans and stayed 12 years. I was lucky to play in a bunch of groups and put out my own records in1998. In the meantime I renovated old houses to pay the bills. I came back to North Carolina during the holidays and with my sister set up a studio. My mom and sister said you’d be good at glass blowing.
I went back to New Orleans and got a gift from friend to attend the School of Glass and Print Making in New Orleans. I learned a lot of basic techniques and then had a friend who wanted shot classes, and then he wanted to pay me for the shot glasses. Then someone wanted the vase I had in my hand so I figured, I’m selling glass now.
Z – Can you tell us a bit about the process of glass blowing?
Dimitri – Right now I’d have hot glass, 2200 degrees. When I gather the glass, I roll it with this rod ’til it’s a glob. I carefully shut the kiln, shape the molten glass on the table, then blow and turn it up in the air and that’ll create a bubble. After that I’ll add more glass to it. If I’m adding colors, they’re laid out on the table and they stick to it.
I’ve built all the equipment myself. I welded all the tables and put the fire brick together.
I made this Glory Hole (glass kiln) with foot-operated doors and worked in the high temperature cement. My experience is that the easiest, simplest solution in terms of engineering is the best. The cement casing keeps the heat in there. If I sketched or painted, I could go out with limited materials, but I can’t do that with glass-blowing. I made all my equipment; Limited by size but haven’t really had the
It’s too hot in this studio to blow in the summer. I make beads using the canes (sticks of glass) by heating them with a torch. I make necklaces. In my college days I was studying archeology in Holland and I found these ancient beads that were used in trading. I started making the beads early on; like 2002. I made my own canes. Finally I decided I’d buy canes; they’re not expensive. By the end of the summer I had a lot of short pieces These evolved into a new color application with my bigger pieces.
Z – Do you do other shows in addition to the guild show?
Dimitri – I’ve been in a few shows; I used to have work at Women Craft in Chapel HIll. Recently I was in a show at the Cary History and Art Center. Also at new medical facility in Chatham Park. They have big glass museum cases and I had a show for a few months. I sold a few pieces.
Blowing glass is hard on your body; you turn pipe the entire time; a 5 lb. weight. It’s hard on your wrists and back. I work three to four hours a day, four days a week. My market has been steady but not toward being in production.
Mostly I’ve thought about what am i going to have fun making? I love making the paper weights, and they sell well at $25. The vases give me an opportunity to make more design decisions and explore larger shapes. I usually sell them for $45 to $55 and my highest priced item was $125. I try to make glass that’s more reasonably priced… because glass is usually $10.00/ inch but my pieces are more like $7.50/inch.
Z – Have you taken orders, or commissions?
Dimitri – It takes a lot of time to make a drinking glass. It’s almost as much time and energy to make a small glass as a larger vase. My glasses sell at $10 to $15/each. I’ve enjoyed working on goblets. As my kids are older and in school now, my wife and I have been talking about teaming up on goblets.
Z – What inspires your creations?
Dimitri – I’m interested in forms as opposed to color applications. My color applications are simple; almost like pottery glazes. I love the ancient forms of vases and I’m not involved with the modern glass world. Aware of Chuhully but that’s not what I’m doing. I’m crafts as opposed to fine artist.
Z – When someone purchases something is there a feeling you would like them to experience?
Dimitri – I’ve realized that people are getting as much out of owning some glass works as I am in making them. I’m doing it out of self indulgent reasons because I want to make things that are fun and cool and beautiful. I sell it and realize there’s enjoyment for them… they see the sun shine through it every day. Making the beads is like meditation. I get a different enjoyment from making the vases but it’s more stressful.
Z – How long have you been making glass?
Dimitri – Since 2002. I’ve done a few craft fairs; the Bynum Bridge Fest every year and Crafts in Cary. The craft thing is a tough racket… I’m lucky to have had some success. I’m wondering if the glass works better in galleries .
Z – What changes have you seen in our local art community?
Dimitri – The art community has grown and the quality has improved and grown too.
Z – Are there aspects of Chatham County that inspire your art?
Dimitri – For me it’s important to be in a rural setting for visual art. I’m inspired by the other artists as well when we get together for the shows. When I see the other people’s work I’m inspired and happy to get to be part of it.
Z – Has the guild helped you get your work seen?
Dimitri – Just being part of the guild has opened up opportunities I wouldn’t have known about. There’s a big pottery festival I got an invitation to. It’s in Sanford; the biggest art/pottery thing in the state. People saw my glass creations and I got an invitation.
Z – What direction do you see your work tending to in the future?
Dimitri – The glass work keeps growing and I just keep doing it. My kids are 4 and 8 and they say they want to do it in the future.