A long vacant storefront at 12621 Larchmere Boulevard will soon be warming up courtesy of furnaces, forges and kilns if two ambitious artisans have their way.
Glass artist Tina Haldiman and blacksmith Cassidy Anderson are hard at work clearing debris from the 3,500-square-foot-structure, essentially taking the space down to bare bones by stripping paneling, ceiling tiles, carpeting and whatever else they find.
"We're trying to recycle as much as we can," says Haldiman. "There's an awesome place in Wickliffe that recycles carpet padding. Who knew?"
The duo has been scouting the neighborhood for two years, working with Greg Staursky of Shaker Square Area Development Corporation (SHAD
) and building owner/developer Montlack Realty
. While the lease hasn't been inked yet, Haldiman and Anderson have their LLC in place for Larchmere Fire Works
, of which they will be co-owners.
"This particular building has been in red tape for years and years and years," says Haldiman. "It's a really great building. It just needs a little love." And a bit of cash in order to transform it into a studio. To that end, she and Anderson have started a Kickstarter campaign
, which will run for a few more weeks.
The studio will feature glassblowing and blacksmithing, with an array of classes and workshops for everyone, including kids as young as five. One-on-one instructional sessions will also be available. One of the first things Haldiman and Anderson aim to get open to the public is a gallery for displaying and selling art.
"We're going to start with the gallery immediately," says Haldiman. "If we're still trying to get our hot shop going, we'll at least have the gallery open."
While the space is in full demolition mode, the couple has procured two glass blowing furnaces from the Toledo Museum of Ar. Although they need some work, Anderson and Haldiman are aiming for a soft opening in as little as two months.
"We need to be open and really getting traffic," says Haldiman. "This building has been empty for so long. All of a sudden, people are noticing movement and they're excited about that because this neighborhood is starting to revitalize."
The two met at the Glass Bubble Project
, where Haldiman worked for seven years and where Anderson connected with his father, whom he previously had never met. Both look back fondly at their time at the quirky Bridge Avenue studio.
"I definitely enjoyed my time there," says Haldiman. "I would not have gotten this far if it hadn't been for Mike (Kaplan) and the guys at the Bubble." The mother of five adds that now that her kids are older, it's time to have her own creative space a little closer to home. Both she and Cassidy live in Cleveland Heights.
Anderson first became interested in blacksmithing when he visited Hale Farm as a kid. He's been studying the craft for about two years under the tutelage of Art Wolfe and is entering the journeyman phase of his career.
"I was working at the Bubble, where I met Tina," says Anderson. The two hit it off creatively and romantically. "It ended up snowballing and now here we are."