Step inside Hennepin Made’s northeast Minneapolis studio and you wouldn’t know it was the dead of winter. Jackson Schwartz and Joe Limpert are hard at work in the blazing heat creating hand-blown glass accents that blur the line between everyday object and modern art. We paid them a visit to learn how they got their start.
The glass-making duo met at the University of Wisconsin-River Falls, where Schwartz was an instructor and Limpert was a student studying ceramics. Limpert made the transition to glassblowing after joining Schwartz’ class, and soon after, an apprenticeship was formed.
After outgrowing their rented studio space, they forged a more formal partnership, found an empty warehouse and began pursuing their dream. With the help of supportive family and friends, including a large steel donation from Bell Manufacturing (Room & Board’s longtime furniture partner), Hennepin Made officially opened its doors in April 2011.
That October, they created their first piece of glass in the new space. Just months later, Jim and Judy Bell generously gave Room & Board’s product team some lovely holiday gifts by Hennepin Made. Everyone was excited to learn about a hand-blown glass company that was literally in our backyard.
“We immediately connected with their clean, timeless product aesthetic and the immediate feeling of great integrity,” said Jenon Bailie, merchandise manager.
Room & Board started working on concepts and launched the first pendant lighting collection in October 2012. The collection has grown to include vases and bowls—all of which are handmade using centuries-old glassblowing techniques.
Currently, 90 percent of Hennepin Made’s business is exclusive to Room & Board. The rest of their time is devoted to creating custom orders. Schwartz and Limpert have designed their business around the same apprenticeship model the business was founded on. New artists are mentored to become integral members of the team—a process that not only improves the company dynamic, but the product itself.
“We just don’t want to make glass. We want to build a team that’s passionate about the craft and wants to do it every day,” said Schwartz.