Mind. Blown.

Local glass artist Doug Frates

By CC Hutten

Photo: Pieces from the Sedona collection by glass artist Doug Frates

There’s no question glass blowing is a craft to be mastered, always changing and improving. But when it comes to customization and client satisfaction, Doug Frates is a creative expert.

Frates, artist and owner of Doug Frates Glass, is known internationally for his one-of-a-kind glass designs. While Frates does capitalize on signature styles like “Sedona,” the company hones in on what clients really want: truly unique designs.

“We try to differentiate ourselves in the market,” he said. “We’re always trying to create something people don’t necessarily have. That customization aspect is what keeps us ahead of the game.”

Though the company has developed and continues to maintain a certain look and image for the brand, they use an experimental combination of colors and styles to produce pieces that represent a client’s specific vision for a space.

Doug Frates Glass aims to transform, not simply design.

Though Frates has become an international success in the glass and interior design industry – having shown and sold pieces in Israel, Colombia, Venezuela, Mexico and Canada – he said he kind of “fell into” the craft of glass blowing.

After Frates graduated high school in St. Louis, Mo., he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. He returned to the U.S. after serving in Iraq in 2003, completed his enlistment and enrolled in college in Tucson, Ariz. He stumbled into a glassblowing class, creating an opportunity for him to grow artistically and earn a career in the craft of glassblowing. He moved to Columbus, Ohio, to be closer to his father and sister, while furthering his promising career in interior design.

“I had no idea I was creative, or had the concept of creation,” Frates said. “But as soon as I walked through the doors of that class, I knew it was what I wanted to do.”

Frates was “determined to follow his passion for the fiery radiance and liquid color of hand-blown glass,” according to Kristen Wessel at ChicExecs PR.

He studied different art forms and its various techniques, and his talent was apparent to his instructors. With their guidance, he “endeavored to bring new and innovative effects to the trade and to make American art-glass the focus of a promising and dynamic career. He is now considered one of the premiere art-glass artists in the country.”

Frates has been working with glass since 2003, and has been professionally glassblowing since 2006.

Over the years, the inspiration for his work naturally changes and grows.

“In the beginning when you start blowing glass, you are more inspired,” he said. “As you grow, you understand the capabilities. That only puts more pressure to come up with stuff that is more original and better. It’s a constant challenge.” And he continues to overcome those challenges with fresh and determined artistic innovation.

Frates said there are five employees who work for him: three full-time and two part-time. In addition to creating all-original pieces, Frates said the business operates based on the client’s vision combined with the designer’s vision. It’s a creative, collaborative process.

“We will sit down and talk over the processes to make sure we can produce it, and then get to work on it,” he said. “Some clients usually choose multiple different colors that choreograph well with the piece, and we will go from there.”

His company caters to the interior design trade. If someone wishes to fill a wall or lobby, or capture a certain look, working with Frates is a unique and rewarding experience because his company specializes in working closely with others’ artistic visions.

“I think about the customer first,” Frates said. “Not just art that I want to do. It’s about art for the customer so they’re happy. It’s about the fact you want to create something people want to enjoy and love and understand.”

Frates said his work can be viewed and purchased through a national design retailor, Cantoni, at cantoni.com. Locally, his work can be found through his major Ohio retailer, Dwellings on Madison, located at 2003 Madison Rd. in Cincinnati. His work can also be found at Marcia Evans Gallery, located at 8 E. Lincoln St. in Columbus, and at a retail space in Springfield, located at 32 N. Fountain Ave.

“We do shows in Cincinnati in early December at Dwellings,” Frates said. “Shows come and go all year long. Wholesale marketplaces are how we got in with retail, but we do not do retail ourselves; we primarily cater to the industry.”

In addition to shows and galleries, Doug Frates Glass offers occasional classes geared towards glassblowing.

For more information about Doug Frates Glass, please call 520.405.0255, email df@dougfratesglass.com or visit dougfratesglass.com.

Reach DCP freelance writer CC Hutten at CCHutten@DaytonCityPaper.com.

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Reach DCP freelance writer CC Hutten at ContactUs@DaytonCityPaper.com

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