Glass screens are NOT a thing to fear!
On a nearly daily basis, we find ourselves explaining these tiny, flower shaped smoking utensils, and we’re here to let you know they serve to improve your experience!
Although we carry both brass and metal screens to place directly on your bowl, these can often come with a variety of issues, including taste and their ability to pop out (scattering your precious tobacco) when met with a bit of flame. Glass bowls offer a flame-resistant alternative, which rests directly atop the hole in the piece, ensuring no loose ash will fly through the chamber. Almost all of us have found ourselves wiping about gunky residue after a hit, so why not enjoy your bowl to its fullest potential?
It goes without saying, glass bowls, and all other smoking pieces, should be thoroughly cleaned on a regular basis. In order to best ensure your hit is as clean as possible, be sure to pair your pipe with our 420 Cleaner, which boasts a complete job in just one minute!
Do you want to try glassblowing?
I took the plunge and built a private backyard glassblowing shop. I mean, who does that? It is the glass studio movement to the extreme.
Glass blowing and playing with molten glass looks like fun. Do you want to give it a try? When I talk about what I do, many people tell me they would like to try it. Are they serious? Are you? I became one of those people who wanted to give it a try. And I wanted it bad. I have no art degree, in fact, I am an accountant. I wanted to try something different besides book work. After all, I have been doing taxes since 1982.
Until recently, I had never heard of anyone else blowing glass in their backyard. I am sure there are others out there who have done it, but I have decided to write about it. It’s been a fascinating experience. This is a story of what I did and why. The things I am sharing, I found out about the hard way. I went into it totally not knowing what to expect or what was involved. This is a discussion of the good and the bad. I am sharing my encounters and will offer some advice. The more information that becomes available to glass artists the better. So, why not relate my know-how? If you decide to make a hot shop you are responsible for the consequences. You have to be as safe as you can be. I am giving a lot of information about a backyard shop, but your choices and consequences are your own.
I am not going to instruct you here on how to make a backyard shop or on how to blow glass. There are other books that instruct about glassblowing and how to blow glass. My focus will be on the lessons learned from becoming a selling glassblower. This is my journey from hobby glasswork to selling; and from accounting to art. I will tell you about my backyard hot shop and what it takes to put one together and how it works.
Glassblowing is not easy. It is expensive and difficult and it is scary hot. It is challenging in many different ways, but it is also very rewarding. To see it through you must have the passion for glass. I can say I have figured a lot of things out. And I still have many challenges to overcome. You may want to follow my path but have several questions about how to get there. What is it like to set up a glass blowing shop? What does it take? How do you learn it? Is it hard? What is the cost to set up? How much does it cost each month? Do you burn yourself? What about sales? Can you make money? What else is involved?
I hope I can help you with information and answers and by sharing my knowledge. Maybe you will love it and to decide to go for it! I am in my fifties with a home and expenses. Attempting to get hired on as an apprentice or a glass assistant somewhere is not an option for me. There was no way for me to go off and try to be a glass intern. It seemed to me there were only two choices. Forget blowing glass, or make a shop in my backyard.
I chose to make the shop.
CHAPTER 1 – Passion for Glass
A backyard hot shop is a big commitment. Having the idea to blow glass and actually building a glass shop are miles apart. To blow glass, there must be a facility of some sort. A facility must be designed and built, and much equipment needs gathering. The glass hot shop must have the appropriate utility services. Plus, you have to have available time. Glassblowing involves shop time for the actual glassblowing. Once pieces are created, more work is usually needed to finish them. Finishing work is called cold working. Cold working is grinding, polishing, and signing the glass. Once pieces are fully completed, then more time is needed for the marketing and sales effort.
I was a glass collector for seven or eight years before even getting the idea to try to blow glass. What bridges the idea to blow glass to actually doing it and creating your own glass hot shop is your love and passion for glass!
My fascination with glass began innocently enough, a long time ago. I had a bit of spending money in my back pocket and I decided to pick out something from the local antique mall for my home. I was not looking for anything in particular. After browsing the mall for a while, I selected a fairly large orange and black vase. Something about it was very appealing. I was captivated. This colors in the vase swirled about and the contrast was striking. It was “calling to me.” I discovered that I really liked colored glass and I began to look for more.
The hunt was on! Flea markets and antique malls became my new favorite places. Collecting glass was a super fun hobby for me. I liked to walk my dogs at flea markets. Sometimes I would go with one of my kids. Collecting glass was an enjoyable weekend activity. Los Angeles has a great network of giant flea markets. A big flea market occurred every week. And I mean really big. It was flea market heaven in LA and I went to them all.
The variety of glass available is astounding. The colors, shapes, sizes, and textures draw me in. I collected colorful glass pieces. Over several years, I had collected over 300 pieces. I loved how it filled my house with color. I put up shelves and a display cabinet for the smaller pieces.
When my house was out of display space, I bought and sold in antique malls and had fun being a glass dealer.
My passion for glass is deep. I named some of my favorite glass pieces. There’s a cased lime colored Italian glass piece called “Key Lime Pie”. The yellow bohemian piece with brown trails down the side is “Chocolate Sauce” The first piece I bought I call “Monarch” for its resemblance to a monarch butterfly and it is the queen as it started my collection.
I don’t do much collecting any more due to the focus on my own glassmaking. But my passion for collecting and dealing remains strong. I still love treasure hunting. I love to find a piece that is worth flipping on Ebay for a profit. I will still buy a piece of glass if it is a “must have” for my house.
Do you have passion for glass? Yes, glassblowing in the studio is fun. But the finishing cold working and the marketing and selling effort is not as much fun. The actual glassblowing shop time is only a small part of the time needed. If you are serious about your own glass studio, be sure your passion for glass is strong. It will keep you going when difficulties are encountered.