Setting Fire to the Waiting Game 

A hot time for glass
Asher Holman took what he knew of hot-shop culture and made his own niche on the edge of the River Arts District. Portrait by Rachel Pressley

Patience is a virtue. It’s also a smart business tactic. Asher Holman knows this first hand. 

Five years ago, the California transplant, who moved to Asheville with his wife Leslie, was walking his Shepherd pups Aries and Radar down Craven Street in West Asheville when he stumbled upon a derelict garage. The structure looked a little rough around the edges. Scraggly weeds littered the parking lot, and the roof desperately needed to be replaced. But Holman, a glass artist by trade, imagined opening a hot shop right there on the aft side of New Belgium Brewing Company, a stone’s throw from the heart of the River Arts District. 

“It was the perfect location for a shop — lots of traffic and great visibility,” the twentysomething tells Asheville Made. 

Photo by Rachel Pressley

And so, he waited. A year passed, and then another. Still, the building sat vacant and off the market. Then, on a fateful day in November 2021, Holman strolled down Craven Street with his dogs and noticed a for-sale sign. The waiting game had paid off. 

“We moved into the building in February 2022 and then had to do a lot of remodeling,” Holman says, rattling off a laundry list of repairs. “We had our grand opening in April 2023.” 

Today, Small Batch Glass is a community gathering space of sorts. When the weather is agreeable, Holman flings open the front garage door, allowing passersby to observe the dramatic display of white-hot flames and molten glass as he crafts functional pieces like cups, bowls, and vases as well as abstract sculptures. 

Holman’s specialty is a mix of functional ware and sculpture in a consistently compelling palette. Photos by Rachel Pressley

“Seeing the process helps people develop an appreciation and interest for this kind of thing,” says Holman, who works with an assistant. Watching glassblowers in action at Public Glass, a San Francisco-based nonprofit dedicated to glassblowing, certainly sparked something in Holman when he was 16. 

“I did a paperweight class and got hooked,” he says. “The liquid glass was fascinating to me — I had always been a bit of a pyro — but the community around the material was so fun to be a part of, too.” 

After high school, Holman enrolled in Centre College in Danville, Kentucky, and spent his summers at Pilchuck Glass School in Stanwood, Washington. It’s there that Holman met someone who knew Billy Guilford and Geoffrey Koslow, founders of Lexington Glassworks in Asheville. 

Small Batch Glass. Photo by Rachel Pressley

“They ended up putting me in touch,” says Holman. “I started working there about a week after I graduated college.”

The next three-and-a-half years at Lexington Glassworks left an indelible impression. Not only did Holman refine his technique, but he also learned what it takes to operate a public-facing hot shop. Those lessons prove useful today as Holman grows his business from the weed-choked parking lot up.

According to the artist, his mother is a guiding force, too. An architect by trade, she has run her own firm in San Francisco for more than 40 years.

“I definitely look up to my mom,” says Holman. “She is a big inspiration for me opening my own business and chasing my dream.”

Small Batch Glass, 46 Craven St., Asheville, open 10am-6pm Thursday through Monday, and closed or by appointment Tuesday and Wednesday. Glassblowing happens 10am-2pm on days the studio is open. Watch for a glass pumpkin patch to be displayed the third Saturday in November. See and @smallbatchglasscompany on IG.

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