Frabel was the third child in a family with five children. The political climate after World War II entailed a mass migration to West Germany. After living in several different cities, Frabel began to look at glass as a means to a career at the age of 15. He obtained a traineeship as a scientific glassblower at the prestigious Jena Glaswerke in Mainz, West Germany, and earned the degree of journeyman in 1959.
In 1965 he came to the United States and settled in Atlanta. There he obtained a position at the Georgia Institute of Technology in their scientific glass blowing laboratory. During this time he continued his studies of glass as an art form at Emory University and Georgia State.
While working at Georgia Tech, Frabel created crystal glass sculptures as gifts for friends, partners and business associates, inspiring him to become a full-time artist. Over the next 40 years he followed the European tradition of apprentice and master. As the master artist he passed his skills on to a handpicked group of apprentices and associates, who after many years of training, became master artists in their own right.
Although Frabel’s art received much attention in the Atlanta area, his international breakthrough as a glass artist was not recognized until 1978 when his pop art sculpture “Hammer and Nails” was utilized as the main (feature) piece of the New Glass Art Exhibition. For the next few years the exhibition toured the world visiting museums in major cities. The Hammer and Nails can now be found in the permanent collection of the National Building Museum in Washington D.C.
His rapid exhaustion of any given subject matter and his sudden interest in a new field have given him the reputation of impetuosity in the field of torch-worked glass art. His unusual precision at the torch, developed through the rigor of the master craftsman system of Germany, has earned him the nickname "Machine Hands".
Over the years Frabel’s reputation as a master in glass art has spread worldwide beyond the glass community. Frabel art pieces can be found in public and private collections in over 80 countries worldwide. Some famous collectors of Frabel glass art include Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom, the Emperor and Empress of Japan, current and former heads of governments such as Jimmy Carter, Ronald Reagan, Barack Obama, and Anwar Sadat, as well as museums in London, Paris, Tokyo, Dresden, Valencia, Corning, San Francisco, New York and Washington D.C.