What began as Joe Limpert’s apprenticeship with Jackson Schwartz became Hennepin Made, an artisan glass studio based in Minneapolis. They sell their pieces outright, and create collections for other retailers and designers, including Room & Board. Here, their thoughts on their craft and the growing momentum behind the maker movement.
Why glass? What is so compelling about the medium to you both?
We both have worked with many different materials, but glass is dynamic both in the process and end product. Blowing glass requires an immediacy and attention to the process because once a piece is started, you can’t stop the process until it is finished. We work as a team and there is a certain flow when making the pieces that is similar to a song or dance, everything gets in a rhythm. The material itself is so compelling for us due to its ability to activate light. You can make objects that have depth and richness while still feeling delicate.
Why is having handmade objects in your home so important? What does handmade mean to you?
Handmade objects have stories. When people come to our studio, they love to share the experience of seeing the piece of glass made which they now live with in their home. Handmade means adding uniqueness due to the slight variations that are nearly impossible to replicate each time. Handmade reflects the values of craft, quality, and an integrity to make something last a long time.
What is important to you about supporting small business or American-made brands?
American-made brands can often create a nexus of identity for communities or cities. Not only do they provide jobs, they become an expression of the culture of where they are located. There are many of examples of this right here in Minnesota: Faribault Woolen Mills, Loll Designs, Red Wing Shoes…J.W. Hulme!
Tell us a bit about how being a part of the maker movement inspires you.
We are definitely inspired by the many established as well as emerging home and lifestyle brands in Minnesota. We are equally excited about the diversity of businesses and products that have started up in in Northeast Minneapolis. Within a few blocks of our studio there is a chocolate factory, custom bike builder, coffee roasters, brewery, letterpress printer, set builder, distillery, a violin maker and many others. This builds creative energy that helps fuel us.
What else inspires you?
We both love being outdoors. Whether it’s a cabin in northern Minnesota, or in the mountains in Colorado. Biking, camping, kayaking, fishing—they all sound pretty good right now. What we do each day is very detail oriented work, so being away from studio in a vast space refreshes us.
How would you describe your style?
We strive to create objects that are timeless. We love the idea that one of our pieces could be passed from one generation to the next and still be relevant aesthetically.
Hennepin Made’s J.W. Hulme Product Picks
1. Document Briefcase in American Heritage Leather: So we can arrive in style for business meetings.
2. Continental Backpack in Graystone Canvas: Perfect for the trip to the mountains or lake.
3. Weekend Satchel Carry On Bag: Great size for the weekend winter getaway to some warmer weather.
4. Money Clip Card Wallet: We use one!