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Making the cut
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Johnny Holloman has been in the glass cutting industry for approximately 20 years. But he had always done drawings.

"I met a guy who liked some of my artwork," recalled Holloman. "He explained to me that if you're going to draw for glass, you have to know what you're working with; you have to know how to make certain cuts."

So, Holloman started experimenting with the material to see how it worked, and from then on he fell in love with it.

Perhaps it runs in the family.

Holloman's cousin also works with leaded glass, and had previously done some pieces for Anthony Johnson, who plays basketball for the Atlanta Hawks.

Johnson is a 10-year veteran of the NBA and has played on several teams, including the Dallas Mavericks. Johnson liked the work so much that he wanted to start his own business, AJ Custom Doors, which includes hand-made custom designs by using stained glass windows.

Johnson, who averaged 5.3 points and 3.0 assists this season for the Hawks, was traded to Atlanta from Dallas last year. He is trying to expand his business by working with professional athletes in the Atlanta-metro area. For example, Johnson has done some work for Atlanta's sharp shooter, Joe Johnson.

Upon learning about Johnson's company and seeing the fine quality of work, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban - the American billionaire entrepreneur with a net worth of $18.3 billion - wanted some work done in his office headquarters located in Dallas, Texas.

Cuban expressed that he wanted a glass door with the Mavericks logo on it for his office. Holloman is sub-contracting the Cuban job for Johnson, and is currently doing all of the work on the project. He has been working on it for several weeks now, and it should be finished soon.

"I've had a lot of large projects, but as far as names go this is the biggest project," said Holloman.

And this project isn't easy. In fact, only one with the skill and desire such as Holloman could finish such a daunting task.

For the Mavericks logo, not only did Holloman have to know how to draw it free-hand, but he had to break the glass in certain locations for it to work.

"You don't want to get the piece too thin because it won't be strong enough," said Holloman. "You can draw anything, but it doesn't mean you can cut the glass out of it."

It generally takes at least three to five weeks for each project, which includes ordering/receiving the materials, layout and design, cutting, weatherproofing the glass and installation, among other things. For doors, it usually takes three weeks.

Charles Drain has recently joined Holloman, and together the two have created their own business called HD Custom Leaded Glass. (It used to be called Jonathan's Custom Leaded Glass.) Their home office will eventually be based out of Atlanta, but for now the two work out of Holloman's garage in Covington.

"Johnny is a fantastic artist," complimented Drain. "He's a very talented person, and I'm just having a good time learning from him. He draws free-hand (really) well; this is something special - not everybody can do it."

Drain, a musician from California, has been building their new Web site, which is expected to launch within the near future. In fact, he wrote the music for it, as well. Drain does a lot of the behind-the-scenes work for the company.

"The Web site isn't running yet," said Drain. "When it does, it will (have) a slide show of all the jobs (we) have done. At some point, we want to be able to ship to other states. So, we're very excited about that."

Holloman, who moved to Covington from Lithonia about three years ago, enjoys the sense of accomplishment and satisfaction from the customers after completing his works of art; it's a state of mind for him.

"I've just always liked to do artwork," said Holloman. "You get a real sense of accomplishment after it's done.

"But this is the crew right here," said Holloman as he pointed at himself and Drain. "Once I get established, hopefully we'll have some more people to help."

Until the Cuban project, their biggest project to date was for a private museum in Atlanta - Gedney & James. The request was for separate pieces of special glass designed specifically for the men and women's restrooms.

Holloman drew the designs for it, which involved very detailed and beautiful work. For the ladies, the design included perfume bottles, bonnets, lipstick and shoes, among other items. For the men, a stop watch, top hat, lighter and flask were just several items included in the work.

"They were very, very happy with them," smiled Drain.

Holloman had built them a shower door for their personal door, and while they were remodeling their bathroom they stopped completely to remodel it based on his design.

"Johnny taught me all of this; I knew nothing about it," said Drain. "But he's taught me a lot about cutting, and I've been plugging away ever since.

"He (is) definitely a master craftsman," added Drain. "I'm just really proud to be working with Johnny and helping with (this) project."

It's safe to say that Mr. Cuban will be quite pleased once the work is completed.