Dear Culturalist: Help Me Blow Glass

By Onya Ganja on March 17, 2017

Dear Culturalist,
I love cannabis and everything to do with cannabis, including glass culture. I really want to start blowing glass, and I’ve even designed some wicked rigs already, but I just don’t know where to start. How should I go about learning to blow glass?

My overarching life advice, other than never actually taking mine, is to just go ahead and do the things you want to do. Just start blowing glass (after taking a safety course). Just start writing. Just start rapping. Whatever.

Just don’t do that last one when you are standing next to me at a party. Nothing ruins a good time like a random freestyle by some random dude who decided he wants to be a rapper.

Anyways, my point is, you should just be blowing glass already instead of taking the time to ask me how you should go about starting. Here we are though. So I guess I might as well try to help you.

There is this thing called Google. It hoards many secrets and answers you might be interested in. Ask someone other than me what it means to “Google something.” Then do it, search for glass suppliers, studios and artists in your area. Get a feel for the glass community around you.

The glass artists and studios around you will not all be 420-centric. Embrace the glass community, all of it. Learn about soft glass and borosilicate, hot shop artists and flameworkers. Weasel your way into their private homes and studios if you can. Like I did with the Lunacy Glass Studio one fateful day.

For most things in life, I would say you should use that Google thing I talked about and mass consume information on it. When it comes to glass, I think you should do that but also have a real teacher or two. Read random stuff online, buy a glass magazine, watch Revere Glass and Corning Museum videos. Mass consume for sure, then get some real experience with other people watching.

In almost every place I’ve lived (or the nearest city center to where I’ve been), there have been a few choices of where to learn about glass. Bead-enthusiast studios have always opened their arms to me, and I think there is something to be said for pipe makers and rich soft-glass-working housewives coming together. Once I made so many pipes next to a woman who had never smoked weed and worked in a cop shop that she started making pipes, too! We can all learn something from one another, like how to make drug paraphernalia that I hope she didn’t bring into her employer.

So there are the charming flameworking studios and local hot shops. The latter is harder to get into, but most flameworking studios offer safety courses and torch time at the very least now. They typically offer rentals to both hard and soft glass artists.

You might not know it right now, and Google might not even be able to help you track them down, but there are probably some grimy, lovely bong-or-pipe-making studios around you, too. You can often find them in old hotdog factories or the bathroom of your neighbor’s condo. The owner of my local glass studio in an old hotdog factory is a great teacher because he forces me to do things that terrify me... like putting items in the kiln and using a lathe and hand torch. He offers little-to-no instructions but constantly yells, “Don’t fuck up, don’t fuck up!”

Some grown men just break down and cry from the hotdog factory artist’s teaching techniques. So I guess you should ask yourself what kind of learning environment you want before committing to a glass-blowing-mentor-freak like him.

There is the option of attending a local college or art school that offers glass courses. They typically have options ranging from day-long workshops to year-long programs. Start with a workshop. The tuition fees can be steep, but a lot of art schools I’ve been to happen to have magic mushrooms growing in the nearby woods. So, there’s a random fact rather than a suggestion for you.

I’m going to go ahead and say that nobody sits down at a torch to flamework and finds they are instantly amazing at it. Glass has rules, it takes some time to learn them and impatient people tend to make glass explode, a lot. Which the people sitting at the torch next to them really tend to hate.

I’ll leave you with some of my general life advice that you should maybe take. There will always be someone better than you. Who cares? You shouldn’t. Art is supposed to be fun and cathartic.

Let killer artists fill you with inspiration, but don’t aspire to be them. If you love it enough to sweat for it, it is worth it. Aspire to be whatever kind of artist you are and may become in the future with enough drugs. Spend your time doing what you love and smoke blunts! Or vape, or whatever.

Dear Culturalist: My Boyfriend Named His Bong

Dear Culturalist: Is It Cool to Do Blow in the Bathroom?

Dear Culturalist: Is Pot Making Me Fail College?

Dear Culturalist: Strains to Make Me Look Sexy

Dear Culturalist: My Neighbor’s Slingin’ Dope

Dear Culturalist: I Get Sloshed at Art Openings

Dear Culturalist: Does My Would-Be Romeo Roll?

Dear Culturalist: Why the New Obsession with Terpenes

Dear Culturalist: Growing Anxiety

David Cooley's Art Is an Acid-Tripper's Paradise

Germans Troll Trump at Karneval

A Guide to Having a Successful One-Night Stand

This San Francisco Speakeasy Specializes in Food and Smoke Pairings

Beau Stanton - "Megacosm" at Brilliant Champions Gallery

Professor X Uses Medical Cannabis