Epiphany Studios celebrates 2,600 sq. ft. expansion in Pontiac

What’s happening: April Wagner has run her glassblowing studio and gallery out of an old TV repair shop in Pontiac since 1997. She repurposed the space as a professional glassblowing studio upon purchase, growing her Epiphany Studios from this quiet, bucolic corner of Pontiac, nestled along Beaudette Park, into a thriving business. So much so that she needed new space. But rather than relocate, Wagner raised $650,000 to build a 2,600 sq. ft. addition onto the original 4,000 sq. ft. studio. A ribbon-cutting ceremony with Pontiac Mayor Tim Greimel and other local officials was held on Thursday, Sept 8, to celebrate completion of the project.

Who they are: There are multiple facets to the Epiphany Studios business. There is the line of smaller glassworks available for purchase at her on-site gallery, items that make for nice gifts and home decor. The studio also hosts glassblowing workshops and trains apprentices. And then there are the large-scale installation pieces, glassworks commissioned for private homes and public placemaking projects. With its 26-foot-high ceiling (the original building has 9-foot-high ceilings), the addition comes at a perfect time.

“I was fortunate enough to win a giant project for the Oregon Supreme Court House in Salem, Oregon. It's a 32-foot-by-32-foot artwork comprised of over 2,000 pieces. And I'm building that right now in the new space,” Wagner says. “I will be installing that in Oregon in the beginning of October. So it's perfect timing, actually.”

[Related: Read “My Pontiac Story: April Wagner of epiphany glass” on Metromode.]

Epiphany Studio's new 2,600 sq. ft. expansion.
How she did it: Wagner actually started a crowdfunding campaign for the addition in 2019, raising $75,000 — well over her initial goal of $25,000. Following that, finding traditional financing through a bank proved difficult. But Wagner credits the small, one-location Mi Bank in Bloomfield Hills with supplying the financing necessary to build the addition.

“We got turned down by the big boys. None of them wanted to go near an art studio and an artist in Pontiac. And Mi Bank was like, Oh, this is the coolest thing ever. We love this idea, how great for the community,” says Wagner. “They've been great partners with us.”

Why she stayed: “Pontiac has this great spirit to it, of working hard. There are quite a few artists in this area, and we all just keep our heads down and get at it. And I know that there's a great community of artists in Detroit, and they have a vibe and energy that I think is really exciting and interesting. But my vibe is a little bit different, it's a little more pastoral. Maybe it's not that urban, city feeling; it's more of a country feeling — which is odd to say, because Pontiac is such a big city — but from this location, it really feels like you could be Up North.”

Epiphany Studios is located at 770 Orchard Lake Rd. in Pontiac.

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MJ Galbraith is a writer and musician living in Detroit. Follow him on Twitter @mikegalbraith.