Like magic, transform molten glass.
Photo by Connor Fyfe
While glancing at the wondrous variation of colors and designs of your bowl, you might not realize all the work that went into making it. But behind every quality glass pipe is an artist who, with a set of steady hands, the right amount of flame, and keen attention to detail, transformed molten glass like magic.
The process of blowing a glass pipe should never be understated. In addition to requiring considerable precision, it takes a great deal of experience to make the perfect bowl. But can the art of glass blowing be taught? Why certainly. Award-winning glass artist Jerome Baker says blowing glass is like playing guitar: learn the chords, learn the scales, practice, and you can play any song you want. Here’s a step-by-step guide on how to get started.
Humans have blown glass pipes since around 30 BC. Yes, 30 years before christ. At the time, the Romans would form their glass pipes using the blowpipe technique. In other words, blowing glass into a bubble with the help of a blowpipe. To this day, many talented glass artists continue to use that very method.
When it comes to making your own glass pipe, it’s worth noting that for your safety, as well as that of those around you, it’s not advised that you try glassblowing at home without the help of someone who knows what they’re doing. After all, you will be handling glass at extremely high temperatures. If by chance you manage to drip glass onto your skin, it can cause some pretty severe damage.
Here are the materials you’ll need to get started:
The first thing you need to do before you start making your own glass pipe is to suit up. Make sure your goggles are securely in place and that you’re wearing heavy duty clothes. That way, glass is less likely to find its way into your eyes or onto your skin. Also, if your hair is long, then you should tie it up to avoid burning off any strands.
As for the other materials, you’ll need to arrange them away from anything flammable. The room shouldn’t be too cold. If your glass cools down too quickly after heating then it may shatter.
Now it’s torch time. After igniting your torch, adjust your gas so that the flame has a feathered-pointed end. Once it’s ready to go, you can start applying heat to the un-opened portion of your tubing.
Next, begin blowing through the opposite end of your tube to form the bowl. It’s vital that you evenly apply heat to the bowl while doing this so that it remains fixed as it blows out. Once the bowl has reached a desirable size, then you can stop blowing and give your device some time to cool down.
Creating a hole in your pipe is essential so that all that tasty weed smoke can flow in and out. To do this, add heat to a small area somewhere along the outer border of the bowl. Then, blow forcefully from the opposite end until you achieve your hole. Afterwards, give your device some time to chill.
Moving forward, you’re now going to apply heat to the area surrounding the hole until the glass becomes malleable. But don’t overdo the heat to the point where the material starts to liquify. If you do, then it’s likely that you’ll ruin your hole. Grabbing your carbon rod, you’re going to press ever so gently onto the area until you’ve formed a deep enough hollow for your bowl. After that, allow the pipe to cool off.
You’re almost done! But first, you’ll need to create a carb for your device. On the outside of your bowl, apply heat to a small area while blowing from the other end until you get a hole. To keep air from getting inside, use your carbon rod as a safeguard. Then, let the pipe sit until it’s cooled off.
Finally, you need a mouthpiece. On the open end of the tube, add heat to melt any unevenness. Your mouthpiece should always be smooth since that is where you’ll be taking in those powerful hits of herb. When it’s looking beautiful and polished, you’re going to give your brand new pipe time to cool once more before it’s all set and ready for toking.
When it comes to how to make a glass pipe, a general step-by-step guide, such as the one above, is not something to rely on alone, although it does help. Every glass artist has had their fair share of accidents, from explosions to injuries. To make a glass pipe the safe way, the best thing you can do is call in the experts that have been through it all.
Several professional glassblowers offer classes that teach you everything you need to know about the art of glassblowing. For example, The Furnace: a glassworks in Lakewood, Colorado provides a 3-hour long glass pipe course, and you can even bring along a friend. And in Seattle, Washington, there’s The Boro School, which has a whole series dedicated to pipe making, including a fundamentals class for beginners and a course on multi-section dry pipes.
You can even catch a preview of what the experience is like beforehand via YouTube. For instance, Revere Glass has a channel filled with videos on how to make a variety of devices, from the classic spoon pipe to pendant pipes. Once you gain some experience, you can always refer back to their videos on everything from safety to blowing much more extravagant smoking instruments. Next up? A bong.