How Colored Glass Water Pipes Are Made

How Colored Glass Water Pipes Are Made

Published by S. Wyatt Price on Dec 9th 2021

How Colored Glass Water Pipes Are Made

Video Credit: Vimeo & Purr

The normal tradition of building and constructing glass water pipes rallied on lamp-making practices that uses and oxygen flame powered by both propane and natural gas torches. As the glass workers are working the glass into its desired shape, they use a combination of ash, sand, lime, and potash to create this malleable substance that eventually becomes the water pipe with all of its colors and designs. The glassblowers that utilize this technique are highly skilled and often have to endure years of and apprenticeship to get to their current position, which is why some of these pieces, especially the heady ones, are so expensive.

Bob Snodgrass, also known by many as the Godfather of Modern Glassblowing, discovered the modern processes around the late 70’s when he was following the Grateful Dead around. This was after a long stint in the United States Air Force that made him conclude that most people in his immediate surroundings were incredibly square. He also reported that during his time in the Air Force all of those squares didn’t have any good weed, and that “good skunk” wasn’t experienced until he was nearly 25 years old, but this was a pivotal moment in his career! He found a long term career in glassblowing being on the forefront of stoner culture with the Grateful Dead and became a legend to many people. Overall, this is probably the most well-known name in glassblowing today. He unofficially started the glass renaissance by himself and left an enormous mark on the game

He later on settled in Oregon and really hunkered down in the woods and honed his craft and built a glass empire. He began to train apprentices, which led to the development of a rich and exhaustive glass culture in the Pacific Northwest. There are other factors that have changed the glass game, though, so join Cloud 9 for the journey into the wild world of glassmaking as we delve on in!

Techniques For Crafting Hand Pipes

The first technique that glassblowers use, or the first and foremost, in terms of popularity is frit! Frit is combination between sand and silica that’s used to create glass. In the hand pipe world of glass blowing, it’s the ground and colored glass that the cullet is rolled around in in order to fuse the colors. Instead of Snodgrass’s original technique, which is heating gold and silver fume onto the pipe to create color, frit is often chosen as the modern solution because it is more inexpensive, usable, and available and in the time of COVID y’all know that’s an issue!

It Ain't That Type of Cane

Cane or caning is another process that glassblowers use to color and create different designs on glass pieces. A cane is essentially just a long, colored glass stick that allows for colors to be place onto glass when’s it’s heated under a torch or flame. The glass then cools onto the piece or hand pipe/water pipe that’s being created for intricate designs, shapes, and colors. It ain’t going to help you stand up, nor will it provide you with endless energy, but it will almost look like wig wags and different colors blended together across the different parts of the water or hand pipes in question. Notice the wig wag hammer above, it showcases the possibilities of caning with color on an enormous bubbler. Beautiful ain’t she?

Silver fuming and gold fuming allows for the glass to seemingly change color as it’s heated and greenery is smoked, but what about dichroic glass? Dichroic glass is an oxide and quartz combination that let’s the whiteness from the reaction to filter how much light is entering into the piece at a time. This effect is created by vaporizing metal oxide and quartz crystal in order to blend them together inside of a sealed chamber. The heated material is then laid atop the glass material and it effectively filters the amount of light that can come through the hand or water pipe on the portions that are opaque white.This is an effect for exclusive smokers only, as it can be relatively expensive and it adds an incredibly unique flare.

Picture or Piece?

Headdies, headdies, headdies. These are the crema of the crop when it comes to hand pipes and water pipes. Usually valued the highest, as they’re considered either functional masterpieces, works of art, or both. In the modern day we’ve watched certain heady water pipes go to market for upwards for 50k or more. The piece in reference is an AK-47 rendition that fully smokable, but there are also some hanging pieces not meant to be smoked, but I don’t think anyone here is here for that. This is called millefiori that encases the heady piece and establishes and even higher value than was initially thought because of the incredible intricacies at play. These pieces are primarily used for decoration or art piece and don’t often see the light of day. The technique of glass blowing is known as murrine, which was discovered and made popular by the Murano School of Glassblowing, but before that it had been done over 4000 yeas ago in the middle east.

Alien skin is the final technique we’re going to touch on today. Simply put, it’s a mixture of bubble trap, sleeving, and fuming that appeals to collectors because of it’s rarity and depth composition. The skin of the hand pipe and water pipes that this effect tis applied to often seems to look like some sort of extraterrestrial skin.

Glass Hand Pipe & Water Pipe FAQ

A lot of glass hand pipe, water pipe, and dab rig enthusiasts, especially in the beginning phases of this passion, aren't sure how to maintain their hand pipes and glass pipes, not to mention the confusion that can sometimes come with silver fuming and other effects. When it comes to maintenance, our Cloud 9 suggestion will always lead to blue or green resinate (blue for dab rigs and green for dry herb hand pipes and water pipes.)

Ceramic and acrylic pieces must be assessed on a case by case basis, as ceramic is incredibly breakable and may not be worth washing if it will break, and acrylic is usually made from multiple materials.

Filtration/Smoke Purity This is a relatively simple subject for glass pieces, as they’re easily cleaned with a q-tip-like tool and a pipe-friendly solution. (Our favorite tool and cleaning solution).

This can make or break a water pipe purchase for many reasons. Have you ever tried to clean a water pipe only to find that those honeycomb and shower-head percolators you thought were badass are now just a pain in the ass? We sure have and that’s why knowing your needs is so important.

Otherwise, silicone water pipes are dishwasher safe, just make sure to use a natural cleaner or you could end up smoking some lavender flavored bullshit and nobody wants to have to deal with that nonsense.

Make sure you check out the rest of the MOB Blogspace HERE

Heady Hand Pipes & Water Pipes

Now let’s take a look at some of the heady hand pipes, water pipes, bubblers, and dab rigs and see if we recognize any of the techniques mentioned above. Here at Cloud 9 we always keep a diverse selection of heady hand pipes, glass pipes, bubblers, and dab rigs for both the collector and the smoker. Such intricate art has taken on stellar price tags in art galleries around the world. Some of these artworks sell for upwards of eighty thousand dollars, but our collection here tops out around three grand.

See, this market skyrocketed around 2010 when California was in their full swing of medical marijuana, but the bottom ended up falling out of the market due to the back and forth of artists either trading glass or selling it to wholesalers and devaluing their own work. Many traditional smoke shops refused to carry the pieces for this exact reason. Think, for example, that a heady hand pipe or water pipe retails for $1000, but someone offers to buy it for $800 at the smoke shop. If the hand pipe, water pipe, or dab rig has been sitting on the shelf for a hell of a long time, the shop owner will probably sell it, but this means the artist's work has been devalued, not to mention that fact that there are at least tree pricing tiers that go onto this piece. Consider: private artist to wholesaler, wholesaler to shop, shop to customer. If you're unfamiliar with business or simple money moves of the aforementioned nature, then you wouldn't know that everyone involved here wants a piece of the action, and traditional smoke shops essentially mark up the product by twice the amount.

Again, this devalues the hand pipes, water pipes, or dab rigs and oddly enough the artists, simply trying to feed themselves I might add, destroyed the market almost entirely by themselves. This finally took a huge hit when California switched their main form of marijuana regulation from medical to recreational, but now in 2021 marijuana has been decriminalized federally and California’s recreational laws are beginning to stabilize. In turn, heady glass blowers have been able to pick back up and begin making profitable earnings again. 

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