So, How Are The Made?
Though many changes and innovations have come throughout the years regarding design and style, the same basic, tried and true method stands for making blown glass pipes and bongs even today. To create a glass pipe, artists first begin with several different sections of glass, usually cut to size at about 4 inches long. It is at this point that artist can begin to make decisions about the design of the pipe and how they’d want to make it. It is during this stage that Snodgrass’ legendary fuming technique can be utilized to make pipes change color, among many other different techniques and styles developed over the years by glass artists such as wrapping, raking or striping, just to name a few. These designs can be as simple as unique as the artist desires, the only real limitation being their own abilities.
After the artist has cut their sections of glass and decided what style they want to make their pipe, they begin the process of slowly sculpting the glass into the desired shape. This process begins with the artist heating the glass to create the neck, slowly stretching it out to take the desired form. After finishing the neck, the artist finishes off this section by shaping the mouthpiece before moving on to what is arguably the most important part of the pipe: the bowl.
To shape the bowl, the artist first heats their glass over open flame and, when this is complete and the glass is sufficiently heated, the artist will begin to shape the bowl by blowing into the nearly molten glass with a tube to give it the rounded shape we’ve all come to expect from blown glass pipes, or any other non-basic shape the artists desires to give it. As the artist blows into the forming bowl, they take the glass, still heated by the open flame, and work it in a circular motion to make sure there are no inconsistencies in the glass. The artist is free to then add any accents or frills to the pipe that they wish, such as adding a wrapped glass grip along the neck of the pipe or other types of accents and designs, before moving on to the next stage of pipe making.
After this step, the artist takes his still flaming hot pipe and presses the shape of the bowl itself into the pipe. After doing this, when the artist is pleased that the bowl is deep and wide enough as well as the bowl itself being properly formed and symmetrical, the artists makes a hole in the side of the pipe to serve as a carb or choke. This allows the user to close off or open up airflow to the pipe as they so wish while it is in use, making the pipe functional.
The finishing steps involve the artist taking their completed pipe and placing it on a hot plate to flatten the bottom, making sure that it is not allowed to roll off of wherever you decide to sit it and break instantly. The artist then places the pipe in a kiln to let it finish and harden, or break it clean from the handle and let it cool as is.