When Linda Martin bought her three-bedroom home in North East, Cecil County, the arts and crafts fan wanted her French- and Asian-inspired house to be full of unique, handmade features.
Martin found whimsical, glass-and-metal home decor made by Baltimore’s Zero Gravity Creations LLC while attending the American Craft Council show at the Baltimore Convention Center. Since then, she’s spent about $25,000 on three chandeliers, a bathroom faucet and sink, a table and two chairs and a table lamp with LED lights.
“I like the creativity and handiwork,” Martin says. “It’s the difference between something made for you and something you pick up at a lighting store.”
Her Zero Gravity-designed faucet, for instance, is shaped like a vase and features two lotus flowers sprouting from the top — the blown-glass design even allows the user to watch the water come up through the faucet. She describes her living room’s cream-colored Asian lantern filled with blown glass as the “comment piece of the house.”
Customers like Martin helped Zero Gravity get off the ground in 2012. Founders Aric Wanveer, 34, and Tim McFadden, 31, are metal and glass artists, respectively, who started collaborating five years ago. Their success at the American Craft Council show helped them realize that they could turn their passion into a business. Not only were they getting commissions from homeowners like Martin, but wholesalers, retailers and national glass blowers wanted to learn about their work, especially the technology the artists use to fuse metal and glass.
“That’s where we thought, ‘There’s something to this,’” says Wanveer, Zero Gravity’s CEO. Zero Gravity recently received a patent for tools and components that fuse glass and metal to make it airtight and submersible under water. Wanveer says this patent will help the company make more inroads into the commercial space as the business owners plan to license the technology in eight different market sectors, including medical, automotive, home improvement and defense.
Though Wanveer and McFadden started out designing for the residential market, about half their work is now for commercial clients. Through their recently launched company, Tapologie, they have begun designing lights and beer tap handles for breweries and restaurants, including Blue Agave and Banditos in Baltimore. They are also working with an up-and-coming brewery to create its beer tap handles.
With an office at the Emerging Technology Center at Johns Hopkins Eastern and a metal shop in Waverly, the founders are now looking for a 20,000- to 30,000-square-foot facility in the Baltimore area that would function as their showroom, factory, metal shop and office.
“We’re out of the seed stage and just starting to take our stride and hit the market,” says Wanveer. “It’s an exciting time but still really early in our growth.”