The “Best Glass” Cup winner is a 27-year-old American drug war exile named Drum, whose spiritual path led to Amsterdam and the art of turning glass into beautiful marijuana accessories.
Originally from Eugene, Oregon, where he was influenced and trained by legendary glassmasters like Bob Snodgrass and Tory Lessner, Drum says his achievements arise from his family’s style and beliefs.
“My whole family smokes herb,” he said. “My dad is a master bass fiddle player who has worked with top musicians and symphonies. He is also a Master Mason, and an elite forces guy who taught me martial arts and how to be a man.”
Being a man meant that Drum became an accomplished musician and martial artist while still a teenager. He started blowing glass at age 19, but also used his breath to make music.
“There’s that traditional viper thing, you know, smoke cool herb and listen to hot jazz, only I was playing the jazz ? horns, reeds, the saxophones, all that good stuff,” he explained. “I also trained in Judo and Taoist martial arts. These are pain sports, and they prepare you pretty well for fire training, for sitting with the torch and making glass.”
Drum’s jazz performances were fiery ? they were literally and metaphorically smokin’.
“It got to be known in the club scene in the early 90’s that my gigs were viper gigs, with people coming in to smoke herb and listen to our music,” Drum says. “The cops got hip to the fact that if they wanted to make easy pot arrests they could drop by my gigs. I always packed the house, and these jazz people were not into the police being there, so the police took it personally and held me accountable for the audience.
“So this one officer, he starts poking me in my chest. My dad always taught me, ?You never let another man attack you.’ And I was already trained in martial arts, so I defended myself: I took the cop’s arm and twisted it in a hold, and he didn’t like that too much. He wasn’t used to people standing up for their rights. That was August 5, 1995. My life changed that day.”
Accused of resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer, Drum fought the charges and had them thrown out, but two weeks later, he says, a police informant stabbed him in the back.
“It was like, these cops are not going to let it rest,” Drum said. “They’re trying to kill me. I spent two days in the hospital. The doctor comes to me and says I better get out of the hospital before they even have the chance to manage the stitches, because the police are telling him they’re coming the next morning to question me and it might mean some harm. So even though I loved Eugene, loved Oregon, I had to leave.”
Preparation and creation
Drum says he didn’t start making glass just because he lived in glass-laden Eugene and liked to smoke pot.
“It was part of a Taoist thing. It’s kind of hard to explain,” he said. “To make a long story short, a woman that I respected told me that if I didn’t eat meat, cuss, have sex or live in the world, I’d get a gift from God. So I lived in a tree, 120 feet up in the air, for six months. When I came down, I had the inspiration to start doing glass.”
Drum distinguishes his work from that of most other glassmakers by explaining why his preparation and techniques are a rarity in the glass business.
“I’d say that I am one of about five blowers, among them Bob Snodgrass and Cameron Tower, who actually sit down and draw out their pieces before they make them. There’s about 2600 people making glass out there, and very few of them draw and engineer the pieces with the comfort of the smoker in mind. And most of them are using colors, so no matter how good they are, they all kind of look like they are from the same school. I don’t use colors, I use real silver and gold, so my stuff stands out as unique. I think that’s why I won the Cup,” he said.
Working as long as 27 hours non-stop on a piece, and being burnt with what he calls a “torch tan,” means that a considerable amount of suffering and dedication are part of every piece of glass Drum makes.
“Glassblowing is another pain sport,” he says with a smile. “I’ve got burnt hands, and my face has that torched look that makes serious blowers look like alcoholics. You can be in Eugene, where the sun doesn’t shine much, and still have the torch tan all year long. It’s a little hard for me to part with a piece, but I only sell to people I consider to be cool. I may not know them all that well, but I know they will do the best for that piece, so I can let it go.”
“The glass business is getting huge,” he continued. “I think I should go to China or Hong Kong and set up a production factory to make the more affordable pieces. These samurais and other custom pieces are beautiful, and they come from my heart, but how many people can afford them? It’s like a month’s salary for some people. They’re more of a signature thing, a luxury for people who collect art.”
Winning the Cannabis Cup for his “Samauri in Dragon Skin” glass, “was of course a big honor, and it lets me know I am on the right track,” Drum says, but he doesn’t intend to spend the rest of his life making pot gear: “I’d like to get into architecture and different types of art, like making pure glass roses that will never wilt, for somebody’s mansion garden.”
Still, marijuana will probably always be an important part of the first-time Cup winner’s life.
“I blow a lot better when I’m smoking herb, but if I smoke something real strong too early in the day without eating a good meal, it can drag me down,” Drum admits. “Herb inspires me, but if I was in the true Tao of my spirit, in that quiet place of my meditation, I would probably get some good Pot O’ Gold and put it in my pasta and eat herb instead of burning it. I’m kind of stuck in this smoking tradition with my friends, where you’re coughing your brains out and enjoying that group thing, that big lung-busting hit.
“Yes, my life is blessed: winning the Cup, living in Amsterdam, but in a way I’m bummed, because both my dad and I had to leave America because it’s got such bad police. He’s 54-years-old and lives in Costa Rica, because he doesn’t want himself or his family to have to be looking over their shoulder for the police coming in our life because we love the herb. I love America, but like my dad says, life is too short to be living in fear of the Man. You gotta be free.”
? Drum, the Glass Man of African Ash Glass: tel 011-31-062-058-1504