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Meet Brian & Karen Durham

Empty Nest Makers is the revitalization of a decades old love for the beauty of glass and the unique ability to manipulate this material into an amazing variety of forms and functions.

Heads On A Wall employs technology and art to create a wide variety of whimsical décor at an affordable price. We are recent empty nesters as we just moved our kids out of state in August of 2020. Ever since, we have received lots of inquiries about, "How are the empty nesters doing?" As you can see from our shops, we have not been sitting idle. We have been busy creating works of art in the forms of paintings, woodwork, metal, and fused glass.

Why did you choose to partner with Yellow Door to sell your artwork?

We have shopped at the Yellow Door over the years and enjoy the unique collection of artists and their work. When we were considering our options for local places to host our creations, the Yellow Door became an obvious choice.

How long have you been creating your art work?

We both began creating art glass over 20 years ago. We took quite a hiatus after our kids were born. Almost immediately after they gained their independence (one college grad and the other a new college student), we resurrected our craft in a new form of kiln fired fused glass.

The animal heads that make up the portfolio of “Heads On A Wall” were originally developed by our son when he was 13 years old and throughout his high school years. You may have seen him on local news stations, in the newspaper, in local shops, or at artists markets. While he was a student entrepreneur, both parents were heavily involved in supporting his effort to sell his unique artwork around the country and even the world. Now that he has moved on to full-time corporate employment, we have taken over the reins and continue to develop and sell these high demand whimsical items to fans around the world.

What do you most love about the creative process?

Learning new techniques and experimenting is one of the greatest joys of creating. Not everything results in a spectacular outcome, but more often than not we are thrilled with the learning and potential of many of our creations.

What do you least love about the business side of creating & selling art?

There are HUGE investments in equipment and material to even begin creating items like this. We invest a lot in materials and equipment before we even have a chance to market or sell items. The capital outlay for the equipment is just a portion of the investment. The broad selection of materials required on a daily basis is extremely costly. From a fused glass perspective, we create with hundreds of unique and beautiful glasses which are often limited in supply. As a result, glass is an extremely expensive commodity. In addition, the glass required for fusing at temperatures up to 1700 degrees Fahrenheit has to be tested for a Coefficient of Expansion (COE), which makes it even more costly than standard art glass.

What makes your art work unique or distinctive?

The science and handiwork involved in creating fused glass makes each and every piece unique. We can never be 100% certain of what results the kiln will hold after the glass is taken to 1500 degrees Fahrenheit. The high temperatures and the handmade aspect of each piece make each item one of a kind.

When it comes to “Heads On A Wall,” over the years we have copyrighted over 40 unique animal head designs. These are unique to our company and these exact designs may not be duplicated. In addition to unique and plentiful designs, our product is made from a durable yet economical hardwood board and assembled by hand in house in our studio.

What inspired you to start creating your art work & how did you turn it into a business?

Both products evolved from a love of science, nature, and creation. The beauty and flexibility of glass creation enables us to constantly experiment with new techniques. Brian’s craftiness enables him to enhance many of our glass creations with woodwork and metal work. As indicated previously, our son’s affinity for science and creation sparked the development of “Heads On A Wall” almost a decade ago. While he was creating all of these amazing pieces of art, Mom prompted the business aspect by telling him he needed to find an avenue to sell his creations because they were taking over the house! Our young entrepreneur did exactly that and developed an amazing number of online sales and many retail and corporate customers.

What do you enjoy doing besides making art?

We are avid exercise enthusiasts, love nature, travel, and all types of art. At one time or another, you are likely to spot us at virtually every art fair, boutique, gallery, and museum in the region.

Who are some of your favorite artists?

There are too many to name. We are constantly marveling at the creative talents of so many artists. We enjoy learning and sharing information about techniques and resources with many of these great artists.

Are there any charities you support or would like to shine a light on?

As lovers of people, animals, nature, and the arts, we are frequent contributors to a number of charities including: The American Cancer Society, Leukemia and Lymphoma Society, Habitat for Humanity, The Michigan Humane Society, Almost Home Animal Rescue League, Best Buddy Pet Rescue, and Water Street Glassworks.

You can see more from Brian & Karen of Empty Nest Makers, in store at Yellow Door Art Market and online!

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