Kenny Pieper was born in Birmingham, Alabama and raised in the mountains of North Carolina. He began his craft career in high school when he studied at the Penland School of Crafts. Initially, he studied pottery with Norm Schulman and Cynthia Bringle. Later, he found his passion for glass under the tutelage of Richard Ritter.
After high school, Kenny moved to Detroit under scholarship at the Center for Creative Studies; he subsequently received his B.F.A. from California College of Art and Design, Oakland, CA. he then spent 16 years working as a glassblower in the San Francisco East Bay area.
Kenny’s career came full circle when he left California and moved back to North Carolina. While constructing a studio there, He worked at Penland School and managed the glassblowing and lampworking studios. It was during this fruitful time that he developed his expertise in the tradition of Italian glass.
Kenny now resides in the beautiful mountains of North Carolina. Reflecting the harmony and beauty of his surroundings, Kenny produces an exquisite line of glass vessels and sculpture.
Reticello is the Italian name for a specific pattern in the technique of cane working. Cane or “Canne,” as the Italians call it, are glass rods about the thickness of a pencil. They can be clear or colored, bundled or overlaid. Throughout the years, glassblowers have created elaborate results by working color glass rods into a variety of patterns.
Just as there are different names for different shapes of pasta, every pattern in cane has its own name. In Reticello, color rods are picked up, twisted in one direction, and blown into the form of a cup. The cup is tapped off the blowpipe and set into a pre-heated oven. Then, a second cup is made in the same fashion; however, the rods are twisted in the direction opposite the first. Kenny drops and blows the second cup inside the first, and if the cups are worked cold enough, the grooves between each rod are retained. These grooves cause small air pockets to be trapped when the two cups come together. This is what creates bubbles to appear in a regular pattern between the crisscrossing lines of cane. The form is then blown and shaped into a beautiful Reticello vessel.