I sat down to talk to veteran glass pipe maker Sky Glass about creating their space-themed works of art.
One artist in the cannabis scene, known simply as Sky Glass, has been working for more than a quarter of a century in an underground industry that has seen its share of difficult issues. I was lucky enough to get an opportunity to sit down with glass blower Sky Glass to talk about how the glass scene originated in Eugene where they are based, how it has changed over time, and how they are still looking to cater to the older and newer audiences today who sometimes want very different things from their glass pipes.
Creating beautiful works of art from raw glass takes extraordinary time and patience. If you don’t believe me, ask Sky Glass, a veteran of the bong scene based out of Eugene in Oregon, which still plays home to many of the scene’s earliest pioneers.
Today, Sky Glass has created hundreds of thousands of bongs, pipes and bubblers and continues to innovate in an increasingly competitive and unstable market.
The first heady pipes and glass bongs were designed and produced by legendary artist Bob Snodgrass, who first touted his famous color-changing pipes based on Grateful Dead Designs to concert-goers at their shows.
Bob is heavily credited with starting the glass movement we have today. The main reason he came to settle in Eugene was, understandably, someone told him the town had the best herb. Sky Glass told me that because of Bob’s presence and work there, Eugene became known as the Mecca of glass blowing.
The artist and company owner, who goes simply by the name Sky, also learned from one of Bob’s students named Cameron Tower.
I wanted to find out from Sky what makes a bong brand interesting or cool by today’s standards. His company’s work is instantly recognizable, combining maverick playfulness with some intriguing, thought-provoking designs which revolve around fluid dynamics.
Their pieces are fittingly named around the theme of space, whether it be one of their more standard clear pieces or their eye-catching fully worked custom color creations, which feature precisely cut showerhead percolators. Percolators are cut with equal measurements so that each bubble created by the diffusion when smoking is the same size. It’s a thing of beauty to watch if you haven’t seen it. Sky earned a reputation over the years for visually pleasing aesthetics which have evolved dramatically, specially crafted functionality and designing incredible custom pieces.
I got the chance to ask Sky a few questions about all of it, and here is what he had to say…
Dr Strainlove: Sky has been around for a very long time. What are the key differences you’ve seen come and go during that time, between the glass scene from the old days and the kind of bongs and devices people want to smoke out of today, how has the glass scene evolved?
Sky: Back in the day pipe making was an unmatured art form. The work being produced was rudimentary and janky. It was tons of different silver and gold fuming techniques being jammed into hand pipes, which looked kinda messy you know, and it was still in the process of getting refined. Only dry pipes were being made at first.
A big turning point was when the first heady water pipe was created in the late 90’s which of course spurred us on to design more of them and experiment with how they work.
Back then different types of percolators were also being developed and you can see the evolution of that in our pieces now. So water pipes became the industry standard. Another milestone in the development really was the range of colored glass we could use for making pieces.
In the 90’s there were a total of five colors for pipe making and depending on the color, you couldn’t use it to make any application you chose. Nowadays we have hundreds of colors to choose from.
I think people see a lot of stuff in scientific and soft glass, take inspiration from it and want it to be emulated in making pipes. This has caused the market and glass blowers to develop into the scene we’re seeing now. I don’t think anyone expected the pipe community to be where it is today!
Dr. Strainlove: Are some smokers still into those OG rubber grommet glass bongs, versus the newer more scientific glass-on-glass designs you see in the market today, which you guys are making as well, and do the younger smokers prefer the more modern designs such as oil rigs, or has it completely changed now?
Sky: Yes there is still definitely a community of rubber grommet smokers out there for sure! But for the most part the whole industry as well as the community has moved on to what we call Gong (meaning Glass-on-glass) fittings. The reason for this is that they are easier to use, clean, and have better air-tight seals. These are also the standard in the scientific community.
We’re reaching a point now where younger smokers don’t even know about rubber grommets, which makes me feel kind of old! We always keep the rubber grommet option open for customers though and we love catering to our older fans just as much as our new ones.
Dr. Strainlove: What are your biggest inspirations to create your new designs, and what’s the process behind coming up with them?
Sky: The scientific community has been a massive inspiration for us. The clean look, lines and welds were things we wanted to replicate. We have spent the past decade moving over into that style of glassblowing. We also offer a lot of custom work and a good portion of our pieces have been designed by our community in that process.
When we find a design we like, such as our Skycycler for instance, we make a few different versions and test them to find out what works best. Research and development is a big part of every piece that Sky creates!
Dr. Strainlove: Sky’s pieces all feature a space themed name, like the “Binary Bubbler” or the “Lunar Recycler”. Where does the inspiration for that come from?
Sky: Sky Glass has always been known for our fun named pieces! We actually had an iconic piece back in the day we called the “Skull Crusher”. Once we started getting more scientific with the glass blowing we lost that tradition.
The space theme actually started with the 12-inch Eclipse bong design we are now known for, which was made during the 2017 solar eclipse. We loved the sound of it and decided to run with it. When we relaunched our website, we decided to rename the pieces with this theme which had an overwhelming response from our community.
Dr. Strainlove: What’s coming next from Sky Glass?
Sky: For a long time we’ve mostly worked with clear or fumed glass. In the past year we have been trying to provide our fans with unique color work, as well as awesome experimental pieces.
We’re currently working on adding a few more affordably-priced perced pieces to our line-up soon. We are also just about to re-launch our Solar Series, which pays homage to the original style of water pipes we use to make. It is special due to its spaced tech fuming and classic silver fuming, meaning the more smokers use these pieces, the prettier they get. Go check them out on our Instagram page or website. We have a few more things coming later this year we can tell you more about soon!
Dr. Strainlove: We’re looking forward to trying one of your pieces in the very near future! Thank you for taking the time to chat to us and keep up the great work.
Dr. Strainlove is a long time lover of fine weed and is always hunting for the latest and greatest strains. His search has taken him from the Coffeeshops of Amsterdam to the boutique dispensaries of California, and lots of other places in between. He loves making music, playing video games, and using marijuana to ponder the mysteries of the universe. When he’s not doing those things, he enjoys spending time with his wife and cat.