How glass pipes are made
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- The basics
- Machine-made vs. hand-made artisan glass pipes
- Adding color and design
- Other types of glass pipes
Glass pipes are a long-time mainstay in the cannabis community used by generations of consumers. There are several reasons why many cannabis smokers prefer to use glass pieces over pipes made from other materials:
- Glass is an inert substance, which means it won’t leach any flavors or smells into the smoke — glass lets you experience only the smells and flavors of your weed.
- In general, glass withstands temperature changes well, making it perfectly suited for sparking up and smoking weed.
- When smoking out of a glass pipe, the piece won’t get too hot to handle.
- Many weed smokers like the stylistic flare imbued in glass weed pipes, which designers decorate with a huge range of colors, designs, shapes, and sizes.
- Glass can be crafted into a variety of different types of pipes, including classic spoon pipes, bubblers, chillums, and more complex pieces like bongs and dab rigs.
Cannabis glass hand pipes remain among the most popular and frequently used weed accessories. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Even as the cannabis market expands and new products are introduced, cannabis glass hand pipes remain among the most popular and frequently used weed accessories. Read on to learnere’s how they’re made.
The process through which cannabis glass hand pipes are made relies heavily on traditional glass blowing techniques.
The glass blower starts by adding heat to a tube of glass. Right off the bat, the glass blower can proceed one of two routes. They can either use the tube to create one weed pipe or they can heat the tube and break it in half to form two smaller weed pipes.
The glass blower starts by adding heat to a tube of glass. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
In the case of a single pipe a glass blower generally begins by completing what many blowers call the “neck stretch.” In this step, the glass blower applies heat to expand the glass into a fat cylinder. As it expands, the glass blower gently spins and stretches the glass to create the main neck of the pipe.
The glass blower applies heat to expand the glass into a fat cylinder. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
When the glass blower is happy with the length and size of the pipe neck, it’s time to create the bowl. They do this by applying the torch directly to the end of the neck while simultaneously blowing into the cool end of the glass tube to create a bulb at the hot end. As they blow into the glass, the artist continually turns the glass to maintain an even shape.
To create the bowl, the artist applies the torch directly to the end of the neck while simultaneously blowing into the cool end of the glass tube to create a bulb at the hot end. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
Once the bowl has been shaped, the glass blower uses a rod to gently press down in the center of the bulb. This step is called the “bowl push” and it’s what creates the depression in which smokers pack their herb.
The glass blower uses a tool to punch one hole in the bottom of the bowl for the mouthpiece and punches another on the side of the bowl for the carb hole. After, the artist places the bowl on a flat surface and gently presses down, giving the bowl a flat bottom so it doesn’t tip over when in use.
At this point, the final step is to shape the mouthpiece and then break the entire pipe off of the initial glass tubing. The artist smooths out the mouthpiece, eliminating any irregularities or sharp edges.
If a glass blower wants to make two pipes out of their initial tube of glass, the process is basically the same. The only difference comes at the very beginning, when the blower first applies heat to expand the tube of glass. If the artist is making two pipes, they will start by forming two stretched-out bulbs in the center of their tubing. The artist carefully snaps the tubing into two pieces once both bulbs are hot.
The bulbous ends become the necks of each pipe and the glass blower proceeds through the rest of the steps: forming the bowl, completing the bowl push, punching out the necessary holes, and forming the mouth piece.
Machine-made vs. hand-made artisan glass pipes
Today’s glass market is generally broken down between machine-made, mass-produced glass and hand-made artisan glass.
The process of making cannabis glass hand pipes by machine is much the same as the process for making glass weed pipes by hand, except the process is automated. Essentially, automated machines mass-produce glass weed pipes by applying heat to a tube of glass as it’s spun and maneuvered by another set of machines to create the desired shape and size.
Adding color and design
Style is big in the world of glass weed pipes, both in terms of the shape of the pipe and the colors used in the glass.
Style is big in the world of glass weed pipes, both in terms of the shape of the pipe and the colors used in the glass. Photo by: Gina Coleman/Weedmaps
To create a uniquely-shaped piece of glass, glass artists follow the main process outlined above with the added step of molding or shaping the glass. Unique shapes are created while the glass is still hot through a combination of spinning the glass to retain a smooth cylindrical shape and strategically blowing through the cool end of the tubing to create the desired shape and size.
Additionally, glass blowers employ multiple methods to add colors to their pieces. Some artists use heat to melt flecks of pigment into the initial glass tubing as they shape and complete the pipe.
Alternatively, artists perform what’s called “fuming,” a process in which the artist vaporizes some sort of metal — often silver, gold, platinum, or another safe metal — into the main tube of glass. This process adds layers of metal to the inside of the glass and creates streaks and swirls inside the finished pipe.
Fuming is how glass blowers create “color-changing” pipes. As you smoke out of one of these pipes, the tars and resin from your weed smoke develop a dark-colored buildup inside the pipe, which provide dark background against which these streaks of color become increasingly visible.
Along with adding color to the glass, artists can also etch designs into the surface of the glass while it’s hot or create other designs by adding molten glass to the outside of the pipe and molding them into specific shapes.
Other types of glass pipes
This guide focuses primarily on the classic spoon pipe because the techniques used to make this type of glass weed pipe are the same foundational techniques used to create many other types of glass smoking pipes.
In addition to spoon pipes, glass blowers or automated glass factories make:
- Chillums – These glass pieces are similar to spoon pipes, but they do not include a bulbous bowl on one end.
- Steamrollers – Essentially giant chillums, these are made by creating an especially fat tube capable of holding tons of smoke at once.
- Bubblers – A spoon pipe with an additional water chamber blown into the glass to hold water, giving the resulting smoke some water filtration.
- Bongs – Bongs reside in a universe of their own, with bongs of all shapes, sizes, colors, and complexity. Despite their variety, bongs are all made with the same fundamental techniques of heating tubes of glass and spinning, stretching, molding, shaping, and blowing the glass while it’s hot and malleable to obtain the desired size, shape, and design.
How glass pipes are made Copy article link to clipboard. Link copied to clipboard. Contents The basics Machine-made vs. hand-made artisan glass pipes Adding color and
How to Make a Cannabis Glass Hand Pipe: The Hands Behind the Flame
This article is sponsored by Smoke Cartel, an online retailer and head shop made up of a close-knit team of glass lovers dedicated to making sure you get the best possible smoking gear.
The American glass industry is huge, and behind every American-made glass piece is an artist who spent countless hours in front of a scorching-hot torch, harnessing inspiration day in and day out to create something beautiful. There are thousands of glassblowers around the country, forging everything from streamlined spoon pipes to intricately decorated one-of-a-kind headies as you read this. We set out to draw attention to the hard workers behind the flame who make our favorite hobby feasible.
How are Cannabis Glass Hand Pipes Made?
It takes an insane amount of knowledge, experience, and practice to create flawless glass art with your hands. When you hold a handcrafted dry pipe, you don’t see the hundreds of pipes the artist cracked to get to that point, the colors that were overheated and boiled, or the pipes that didn’t function or weren’t perfectly shaped. Picking up a handmade spoon means you’re holding the epitome of that glassblower’s craftsmanship. Nothing less leaves the studio.
When first starting out on the torch, glassblowers typically begin with hand pipes. Cannabis hand pipes – also known as glass bowls – are a phenomenal way for artists to get their chops down before moving on to more complicated pieces. The streamlined design of hand pipes makes them a bit easier to create than highly functional water pipes, because these dry pipes don’t have elaborate percs and filtration systems like bongs and dab rigs do.
To create them, glass artists begin by taking a long glass tube and breaking it down into sections about four inches long. The artist then decorates each section, choosing from a variety of techniques depending on the specific look they’re going for. Fuming, dichro, striping, wrap and rakes, caning, latticino, latticello, reticello, or the use of millefiore or murrine techniques (to name just a few) can be as simple or as complex as the artist desires and is capable of.
From there, the artist begins to create the shape of the pipe by heating and then stretching the neck. After the neck stretch, they shape out the mouthpiece before moving on to the bowl. Glassblowers carefully shape the bowl by blowing into the end of the tube and working the glass in a circular motion in front of the flame to make sure the shape is even and consistent. Next, the artist adds any accents or grips along the side of the pipe before doing their bowl push and popping the carb.
The last step is to press the hot pipe onto a plate to flatten the bottom. Finally, glass artists either place the bowl in the kiln or break it clean from the handle to let it cool.
The following video shows the stunning process in full:
Why Purchase a Hand Pipe by Your Favorite Glass Artist?
Hand pipes are arguably the most commonly used glass pieces, and even though there are fewer variables in constructing a hand pipe than in a water pipe, making them still requires a large amount of training and experience that you can’t acquire by simply reading a book or taking a crash course. As Aaron Galloway of Burner Glassworks puts it, “Glass is not a really easy medium to work in. It’s hot, it can burn you, it breaks and can cut you. It takes a long time to figure out how to make it do what you want it to do.”
That sort of familiarity is only earned by spending time on the torch and perfecting an array of glassblowing techniques, so the hand pipes that result from this level of experience are not only a classic and effective method of smoking, they’re a wonderful way to show off your favorite artist’s work.
If you own a dispensary, headshop, or smoke shop, and are interested in purchasing wholesale glass pipes, bongs, accessories, and more, check out Glassheads Distribution.
Learn how glass hand pipes, one of the more popular tools used to consume cannabis, are made. Also get an inside look at a pipe being made in the studio.