A brief history of the artform and who is carrying the torch today
Heady glass refers to artistic pieces that often utilize multiple glass blowing techniques to create wonderful works of art, some so intricate that they belong in a museum. High-end heady glass is truly beautiful. It resembles sculpture more than functional scientific bongs and pipes. . . But the top-tier pieces can cost thousands of dollars—even millions. They are so pricy that chances are you would never want to smoke out of one. This collaborative Pirate Ship, for example, displays with multiple cannons and delicate linework. It was created by artists Joe O’Connell, LaceFace Glass, and Buck Glass and costs over $30 thousand. This is just one of many elaborate displays of heady glass that is on the market today.
Heady Glass History
Pipes have been around since humans discovered they could smoke, but the heady glass culture started gaining traction in the 70s, partly due to a Deadhead. Bob Snodgrass was a novice glassblower when he saw his first heady piece in a head shop window. Then his passion was ignited and he began to experiment. Snodgrass followed the Grateful Dead tour on tour and would sell his original pipes, which eventually popularized the artform. As interest in artistic glass blowing grew, so did the quality of the work.
Empire Glassworks is one brand that carries the torch. There are a lot of American glass artists who create impressive pipes and rigs, but Empire Glassworks has earned a distinct reputation. The California company's heady pieces speak to your inner child that loves colorful and endearing subjects, like its popular avocado pipe and accessories. Adorableness aside, Empire Glassworks' creativity is unrivaled and they put in extra thought and time in the details that add a life-like quality and feel to their designs. And unlike expensive gallery-level designs, you'll actually want to use an affordable Empire Glassworks piece.
Empire Glassworks artists started creating glass jewelry and borosilicate beads, which later evolved into a smoking and smoking accessory brand in 2013. Various techniques such as free blowing, lampworking, deep etching, sandblasting, dichroic coatings, and lathe working are all utilized in Empire's work. Each technique results in a different look. Sandblasting, for instance, creates a frosted look, while etching adds texture and detail.
Empire Glassworks is recognizable by its design. They often reference foodie culture, pop culture, and animals. Their miniature versions of items like a sashimi, result in a cuteness that is distinctly Empire. Another Empire Glassworks signature is their use of dichroic glass, which creates a mesmerizing effect. The glass displays a slew of colors that change with the light, similar to an opal. They use UV material that glows in under a blacklight and custom-mix colors to up the originality as well.
Purchasing Your First Heady Piece
When shopping for a piece of artistic glass , first establish your reason for wanting the piece. Is it mainly for display, or do you want a usable piece that will impress your friends? Research what artists you like, and find out how functional the piece is. Investing in heady glass is a no brainer for the design-conscious, as beautiful glass art can elevate your space and your mind.