By Ryan Neeley exclusively for Appalachian Jamwic

In preparation for the holiday season, Appalachian Jamwich is highlighting vendors and artists in the scene that depend on us, the community, for their livelihood.  This is the second in our series of articles leading up to the holidays, so please, SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL ARTISTS!

I’m a jarhead, so to speak.   I just like jars and containers, especially old or unique ones.  I’ve admired many people’s hand blown or etched jars in my journeys, so I have to admit that my heart skipped a beat when I came across the Grateful Goodes booth at Fall Family Roots Festival this year and their deep etched glass/painted jars and cannasters (spelled Cannasters).   I’ve seen their work before, and probably walked right by their vending booth while on some sort of mission at a festival or show, but never took a moment to check things out.  But this time, all missions were completed and I stepped into the booth of Rob and Cindy Hollen, and I’m glad I did.  The following is an interview I recently did with Rob.

Appalachian Jamwich:   First off, Rob, how did you get started etching glass?

Rob Hollen:  Well, Cindy (Hollen, Rob’s wife) and I had been etching and hand painting wine bottles for a private company here in Cincinnati.  We were going to a Dead show at the Spectrum in Philadelphia in 2009, and on a whim we decided to take a few Grateful Dead related etched items.  I believe we made up and took six things – a few glasses and jars – and when we got there we sold them so fast it made our heads spin.   It made us think, “Man, we’re really on to something here.”

AJ:  And did you open Grateful Goodes right away after selling out so fast?

RH:  We offiicially started vending 3 weeks after that show in 2009, and then we got married in 2010.   We started with just a few things and grew from there, where now we have 45 different pieces of barware and 60 different cannasters in our inventory.  There have been some competitors that have come along, but nobody can get the etching as deep as we do.   And then there are the glass pieces with stickers attached to them, but that’s not the market we’re after.   This is something that takes an effort to make that people will want to keep for a long time.  Actually, we sold this really nice Steal Your Face Ice Bucket to this guy at a show and he immediately wrapped it up and ran it back to his car right then he was so worried about something happening to it.

AJ:  So do you have a glass or art background?

RH: Cindy has a degree from the Art Academy of Cincinnati, and I have a background in Construction Estimation, so not really a classroom type background, but we’ve both become pretty good at working with it.   The shop we worked for etching wine bottles went out of business about a year and a half ago, so I do everything in my workshop now.

AJ:  So where do you make most of your sales?  Festivals and concerts?

RH:  Yes, we started doing just concerts, then moved on to festivals.   We mostly did venues within a 250 mile radius of Cincinnati, which is where we live, like Hookah in the Hills, Terrapin Hill, Nelson Ledges – Ohio, Indiana and Kentucky regions, but we’ve expanded our footprint over the years.  When we sat down and talked about the job we would be most happy at, we came up with vending – you get to travel, see great bands, meet and hang out with amazing people – It’s the perfect job for us!

AJ:  And what types of things do you etch and paint on the glassware?

RH:   We started with just a few Grateful Dead related templates – A Steal your Face, Jerry Hand, the “early Jerry” profile, and to this day, over half are GD related, but now we have over 60 different templates, which is what actually takes the longest to do – It’s a 27 step process.   Actually sand blasting and sand carving the item takes about 45 minutes for a small steal your face jar – it takes a lot longer to create a template.   Still over half of our designs are Grateful Dead related.

AJ:  So everything is done by hand?  Do you break alot of glass in the process?

RH:   Yes, each item we make is done by hand.  I don’t break a lot of glass in the process, when I break something it’s usually due to me being clumsy and breaking something that’s already made – knocking it off the table or whatever.  My worst enemy is blowout – where something is frosted or a little cloudy where it shouldn’t be.   Most people would never notice it, but I won’t sell anything that has blowout.

AJ:  Do you have anything else that you vend besides glassware?

RH:  Yes, we also make and sell tye-dyes  – We only use Procion MX dyes, which is, in my opinion, the best dye out there to get that “electric” color.   We have a lot of unique designs and do custom work for companies, teams and events as well.  And I have a radio show on a local station here in Cincinnati on Thursdays from 1pm to 3pm (EST) called The Greatest Story Ever Told, where I spotlight some of the 650+ live shows I’ve collected over the years, and we have some local talent on every so often.  We actually just did a show with Michael Hornsby, the Rumpke Mountain Boys soundman and producer of their new album Trashgrass, and played a lot of songs from that album.

AJ:  That’s great that you have an outlet to promote the music that you love!  Where and when can we hear the show?

RH:  Definitely, it’s a lot of fun.  And you can check out a live stream of it wherever you are at – every Thursday from 1-3.

AJ:  Well, thanks for your time Rob.  I’m sure I’ll be seeing you at Stanleys one day this winter, and on lot in 2013!   Your work makes great Christmas gifts, too!  Can you ship things without them getting busted up?

RH:   I’m a PRO at shipping these things, and can guarantee they’ll arrive without being broken, and if for some reason they do, I’ll make sure you’re taken care of.  But over the years, I’ve figured out how to pack them so they don’t get busted up.  Items have been shipped as far as California without a problem.   And thank you for checking out our stuff!   We take a lot of pride in it and it’s really nice when someone notices!


First Music-Related Memory – Listening to Johnny Cash, Merle Haggard, riding in a beat up 70’s pickup when I was a kid.

First Band you really got into – Led Zeppelin

First Concert you attended:  1978 – My mom and dad took me and my brother to see Kiss and Ted Nugent – I was nine years old and I think we stayed for about 3/4 of the show.   This was late 70’s Kiss, and if you remember that far back, it was a little wild.

First Festival – Highland Spring Jam at Pegasus Farm in Elkins, WV

Fav0rite Band – Grateful Dead

Favorite Regional Band – without a doubt, The Rumpke Mountain Boys – Living in Cincinnati, I’m able to see them dozens of times a year, and I never get sick of them.

Favorite Venue – I’d have to say Nelson Ledges – it’s just such a beautiful spot- or Terrapin Hill Farm – I love the owners, they are friends of ours, and that’s another of my favorite venues.

For Grateful Goode’s website, click HERE

You can also call to order at (513) 473-1180