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A passion to create keeps local glass artist from retiring

By JUDITY LINDER-ASHAKIH • Jan 14, 2018 at 10:00 AM

You may know Ben Kendall's name If you took an EHOVE Career Center class in creation of stained or fused glass art, or if you are a parishioner of St. Paul's Church in Norwalk you will have seen his restoration of the stained glass windows there — a project that took several years.

You may be wearing one of his original, signed "Bendants" of fused glass that a friend gave you for Christmas, or that you bought at one of the 28 different art/jewelry shows he did this past year.

After 40 years of practice and experience Kendall is taking off on a new adventure. Although for the moment he is giving up teaching after five years at EHOVE — having canceled adult education classes he had already planned for 2018 — he will continue to create his popular stained glass work or do repair, restoration and commissions.

He will be able to devote more time to "Bendant" production since he has a sales representative, a good spokesperson for this line who knows how to work with glass and who will be doing shows for him.

How did a boy from Port Clinton reach this milestone?

Kendall began with a three-year stint in the Army in radar technical work on the Nike-Hercules Missile program from 1966 to 1969. He left California after the Army to find work first in Ann Arbor and then in Cleveland. "Then I wanted to go back to Los Angeles,” he said. “I took a stained glass class in the mid-seventies in a studio in North Hollywood, a few blocks from Universal Studios.

“My instructor said about my first piece ‘You might have a future in this.’ It is my beginning inspiration and I hope to inspire my own students when I teach. The fun is in watching beginners get over fear of cutting glass and to watch people grow and develop in the art form. 

"In 1980, I opened a stained glass studio and shop called Sundance Glass Works in Redding, Calif. I did commissioned work, windows and such. It is there that I began to fuse glass. In May 1983, Boyce Lundstrom, owner of Bullseye Glass Company of Portland, Oregon, came into my studio. He was in town to visit his friend at Shasta College who was a glass-blowing instructor there. Lundstrom saw my studio and said, 'This would be a great place for a glass fusing workshop.'"

This is when Kendall took up the fusion process in earnest.

"In 1986, I sold Sundance and decided to get back to Ohio," he said. "That year I opened Sundance Glass in Sandusky, Ohio." Since then Kendall has furnished many stained glass windows to private individuals as well as businesses and churches. Mrs. Price of Sandusky commissioned two windows in the multipurpose room for the Episcopal church some years ago. Also St. Peter's Lutheran Church of Norwalk and the Lutheran Memorial Home of Sandusky had windows created.”

Other windows grace the area, such as ones at Firelands Presbyterian Church in Catawba; Riverview Nursing home in Oak Harbor, Pt. Clinton; Rockwell Springs Trout Club in Castalia; and The Great Room at the Vineyard on Catawba.

The major window restoration at St. Paul in Norwalk took several years since all the front windows of the church were removed. This was done with major help from Chris Barman and Marv Ott, well-known carpenters who removed and then replaced all the windows after Kendall had disassembled them completely, taken out all the glass, cleaned each piece by hand and replaced the original lead with new.

There also were eight panels behind the altar and 10 panels on either side altar that were replaced.

By 2001 Kendall decided to sell his Sandusky shop when overhead became an issue. 

Now Kendall wants to "take a break from teaching, unless in some future small private classes that are more casual. But I don't want people to feel I'm 'retiring.’ Now I can take a different avenue every day, can do a project, call my own shots — not be on an assembly line. I'm proud of what I do. It is easier to sell your work when you believe in what you do. 

"My home phone is my business phone. Anyone can call for advice or help in a project. I answer all calls."

For more information call 419-433-3092 or email [email protected]

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