Ten years ago, hemp stores had just discovered glass pipes and bongs. Up to the mid-1990s, everything you smoked from was made with acrylic, metal, wood, or stone. Hand-blown glass by aspiring artisans hadn’t really made the scene yet, then. But today, every community in North America has at least one borosilicate glass artisan working their torches and developing their craft, which means blowers across the continent are producing an extraordinary range of smoking glassware. It’s a booming form of artistic expression because a glass studio is really a simple set-up: a gas torch, a workbench, an exhaust fan, a kiln for annealing the glass, and oxygen/propane tanks for the torch. All you need is dedication, inspiration, and a passion for the art – a little talent comes in handy, too! On the following pages are photos of the leading Vancouver area glass blowers and examples of their hard-worked heady pieces, available at local Vansterdam head shops and other high-end ganja glassware stores across Canada.
Blowing glass for 10 years, Ben Evers shows off his latest glass plasma pipe finished September 23, 2007, using a Glass Torch Technologies (GTT) Mirage torch. Ben exhibited his choice glass pieces at the 2005 Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, and counts among his teachers (and their workshops) Steve Sizelove (flat and round shaping); Josh Sable (marble class); Amber Pelligrini (glass sculpture workshop); and Brian Kirkvliet (master study). Ben is also the host studio for, and assistant to, Harald Eberhart (plasma sculptures class). Ben’s work is available at “The Hemp Cabin” (Vancouver), “Zodiac Hemp” (Golden), “Hempire” (Whistler), “Shell Shock” and “Two Guys With Pipes” (both in Edmonton), and “Grass Roots” (Calgary).
Ian Lange has been blowing glass for 10 years, and currently uses an inexpensive RedMax torch. Ian cites among his influences and workshops Bandhu Dunham (tubing), Robert Mickelson (“it’s great to watch an old pro at work,”) and Marbleslinger (“I loved working with Marbleslinger while he was in the Vancouver area,”). His work is available at “Puff” in Vancouver.
Blowing glass for 20 years in all fields except neon – including soft, scientific, art, lighting, and borosilicate – 35-year-old Guy of “Hi-Guy” Glass is mostly self-taught. “In the beginning I took nothing from anyone else, but instead struggled through a year of learning fuming. But through that experience, Hi-Guy glass has developed an excellent reputation for fine quality fuming. More recently, I worked with world renowned glass blower Pavel Molnar in Germany.” Guy opened his own glass blowing shop in metro Vancouver in 1997. “I use an expensive German torch; they cost up to $5,000, a Herbert Arnold torch, – but that’s really a trade secret, you know!” Guy made Marc Emery’s Prince of Pot bong that has been used in all his videos, many media photos, and in the CC #67’s Letter from the Editor. Thomas’ Hi-Guy work is found at “Puff” and “CCHQ” (both in Vancouver), “Two Guys With Pipes” (Edmonton), “Grass Roots” (Calgary), and “THC” (Toronto).
Redbeard, 32, has been blowing for 10 years. He credits workshops by Robert Michelson (sandblasting and organic shaping), Josh Sable (marble class), and Amber Pellegrini (sculpting). His first teacher was Sebo. “I traded in my GTT Delta torch for an oxygen generator so I can blow glass up in the mountains where I live, and produce my own oxygen to burn. I now use the ‘Pinto’ of torches, a Redmax torch. It is an awesome torch, just cheap. I work from 8:00 am to midnight – I’ve got arthritis, carpel-tunnel and tendonitis to show for it.
But I love the lifestyle, being at home with my kids in the mountains and working with my passion. I produce about $500 to $750 worth of glass work each day.” Redbeard’s glass is available at “CCHQ” (Vancouver).
Hippo (real name: Jesse), age 32, has been blowing for 11 years, since 1996. He’s done four years of work with Marbleslinger and attended a workshop in Florida with Robert Mickelson (sandblasting) in 2005. His torch is a GTT
Mirage ($2,500). “I work eight to ten hours a day. I start out with a general concept, sketch it out on paper, then begin to make various pieces of the puzzle – or pipe, as it were – but the plan usually changes halfway through the piece and morphs to what new ideas I get along the way. All of them are works in progress when I’m being creative, and can change until I’m pleased with it.” Hippo’s work is available at “The Amsterdam Café”, “CCHQ”, “High End”, “Puff” (all in Vancouver), and “Two Guys With Pipes” (Edmonton).
Lady Dragon Glass
Vanessa, 30, has been blowing glass for eight years. She is owner of Lady Dragon Glass and works with a GTT Phantom torch ($1,700). Vanessa has four female glass blowers who also work for Lady Dragon Glass: Fiona, Katrina, Patricia, and Sara. “I was originally taught by Chris Windsor from Phatty Glass, and took workshops by Josh Sable (marbles), John Kabuki (marbles), and Robert Mickelson (sandblasting, organic shaping).”
The Hemp Cabin
The Hemp Cabin on Commercial Drive, in addition to having wonderful glass pieces for sale, hosts three glass blowing booths out in the back that are available for the in-house glassmakers, visiting blowers, and art-glass classes. Chrissy, the manager/owner, recently acquired skills on the torch, a GTT Mirage. “We invite all glassblowers – from people that have never touched glass to the people that have been doing it for years – to come in and use our studio!” Chrissy shows two of her favorite pieces, one a Marbleslinger and Surf Rat (Brian Radcliff) collaboration and the other a famous “Coke Can” pipe by Surf Rat.
At 29, Korey Cotnam has blown for seven years; two years in soft glass, and five in borosilicate glass. He was self-taught his first four years, but has since been taught sand-engraving techniques by Robert Mickelson, and just this September had a course in high-end piping by glass master Banjo (see his Figure Study 420 centerfold in CC #63). He works with a $1,700 Bethlehem Tiger Shark torch but just ordered a $4,500 (GTT) Delta Mag torch. “The Delta Mag is a bigger torch, works hotter, is more precise, and is better on colors,” says Korey. He produces $400 to $500 a day worth of work for distribution, which can either be one very complex heady piece, or a series of smaller, less detailed pipes. His work is available at “The Hemp Cabin”, “The Amsterdam Café”, “CCHQ” (all in Vancouver), “Sacred Herb” (Victoria), “Katmandu” (Whistler), and “Shell Shock” (Edmonton). *Note: Korey is Jodie Emery’s favorite glass blowing artist!
Dan Lacell, age 28, has been blowing glass for eight years with a ($1,200) GTT Phantom torch and is largely self-taught. “I tend to bring in non-glass influences into my work, like artists’ styles: Alex Grey, H.R. Geiger, and those kind of fantasy-science-fiction ideas.” His work is available at “The Amsterdam Café” (Vancouver), “Sacred Herb” (Victoria), and “Shell Shock”(Edmonton).
Halina of Lethal Glass has been blowing for four years, and currently uses a GTT Delta Mag torch with a Griffin double-stage foot pedal ($6,000). Among her workshops and teachers are Amber Pellegrini (sculpture), Steve Selchow (sculpting), John Sable (marbles), John Kabuki (marbles), Robert Mickelson (a form of sandblasting called graal – see detail of woman from black pipe), and Harald Eberhart (“amazing teacher of plasma,” stimulated inert gas-in-glass sculpture). Her work is available at: “CCHQ” (Vancouver), “Hemp City” (Vernon), “Mary Jane’s Headquarters” (Kelowna), “Next Level” (Calgary), “Jupiter” and “Two Guys with Pipes” (both in Edmonton), and “High Times” (Montreal). Halina was also in the CC #55 article Lethal Glass.