The glass world is on fire, and we have cannabis to thank for it.
Amidst the spread of cannabis legalization and its growing social acceptance, we're also seeing a surge in both the popularity and innovation of the glass forms we use to consume the plant.
Whether you're a dabber, bong ripper, or even an old-school pipe enthusiast, there's so much impressive glass work out there that will delight and amaze you. And if you're gearing up to celebrate 710 this year, consider upping your concentrate game by supporting an independent glass artist.
Below, check out a collection of five incredible artists. Though we highlight a few, there are so many more truly talented individuals contributing to this art form.
Ashley Ann Austin aka Trip A
Ashley Ann Austin, better known as Trip A, is a Minneapolis-based artist who got her start in a local smoke shop that blew glass. Cutting her teeth in a high-production environment gave her the solid foundations she needed to branch out on her own, while her love of art, culture, and cannabis paved the way for her signature COOGI-inspired style.
“I'm really inspired by cultures and fashion from around the world,” explained Austin. “Since around 2014, I've been inspired by the sweaters you'd see in the 80s and early 90s worn by hip-hop artists and professional athletes made by the brand called COOGI.”
She's currently working on a show called “Trip A's COOGI Zoo'' that will feature collaborative works with artists from across the US. She'll be sending them her “COOGI-tech” to create animal pieces wearing the iconic Australian brand's sweaters. The show will kick off on September 16th, 2023, at Glass2Grass in Miami.
“I think the reason so many people like the [COOGI] sweaters and the patterns on them is because it reminds us of the common thread that makes us all humans and a family.”
Speaking of family, Austin's collaborative spirit, and the community she's built amongst her fellow artists, is a driving force in her work. “The amazing community really does feel like a family,” she said. “We can see new ideas come to life when we combine powers.”
To say her work is dope would be an understatement. With pieces ranging from $100 to collabs priced at over $10,000, anyone from the daily toker to the serious collector can add a little Trip A to their consumption experience.
LA-based artist Sibelle Yüksek's work makes me want to dance. Her female-forward appreciation of shape and movement is balanced, graceful, and powerful all at once — things I am decidedly not when I dance, but a girl can still be inspired.
She's inspired by the elements of fantasy, sensuality, dynamic movement, and female power, her fantastical style draws upon various sources, such as Japanese comic books, animation, and mythology.
And though her work looks effortless, it's the intense challenge of glasswork that fuels her as an artist.
“It may sound strange, but I don't instantly think of love when I think about glass,” she said. “It challenges me more than anything, which is fine, but it's not comfortable.” The intense work she faces as a glass artist is part of what drives her forward. “I'm curious about how much better I can be at manipulating the material. It's the hard times that keep me going.”
In this love-hate relationship, she also recognizes the medium's many moods. “Some days, you just can't win and have to walk away. If you fight with it, it fights back, but when you let go and let it flow, it can be the most rewarding and spiritual experience.”
The inherent difficulty of glasswork is something that makes her work (and all glass artists' work) that much more impressive. It's also what brings a lot of these artists together, and indeed collaboration is an important part of their community that helps drive the art form forward.
“I think it's natural for flame workers to bond over toiling away on pieces together,” said Yüksek. “Many pipe makers share communal spaces which naturally leads to exchanges of ideas, techniques, and collaborations. When artists travel, it's normal to hit up a local studio or artist to discuss work.”
Yüksek aims to offer a wide price range and a variety of items, with glass-adorned apparel starting at $40 and smokeable pieces that range from $80 to upwards of $6,000 for complex structural rigs.
She'll be teaching a class at the Corning Museum of Glass in Corning, New York this July. She will also be competing in the Degenerate Flame-Off with collaborator Coldberger this August in Portland, Oregon, and teaching a 3-day class at Level 42 Gallery in Asheville, North Carolina in September.
Steve Sizelove's use of fractal patterning, geometric shapes, and color gives truly mesmerizing effects. As an artist who's been in the game since 1995, you witness what nearly 30 years of practicing this craft can achieve.
“I started working with glass in Boulder, Colorado. I shared a National hand torch with two friends in a little metal shed next to their trailer,” he remembered. “We made shitty spoons for a few months until we had enough money to buy our own torches and rent a studio space. There were fewer than 10 pipe makers in the whole state of Colorado at that time.”
As an art form, Steve sees glass as amazingly diverse. “There are limitless ways to grow into the medium,” he said. When it comes to his functional art, he relies upon classical shapes and forms. “I'm probably best known for my 'bubbletrap' pattern using gold and silver fume,” said Sizelove. “I like simple designs with clean construction.”
If you're in California, you can find Steve at a collaborative show with Slinger at Piece of Mind OC in Newport Beach on August 12, 2023. In September look out for him at Next Level Glass in Buffalo, New York, and an anniversary celebration with Glass Bunker in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.
Steve's work starts at $350 for slurper marble sets and can top $3,500 for recyclers.
When artist Sarah Hancock started her apprenticeship as a glassblower in 2010, she had several friends who were already established glassblowers in the Texas pipe scene. “I was surrounded by the medium and culture of the pipe scene even before I started learning,” she said. “There was so much excitement surrounding the pipe scene because everything was new and techniques were quickly being discovered by those early artists.”
Having studied art in college, she could also see the beginnings of what has become a popular cultural niche amongst cannabis consumers. “I love art history, and I could see that this fringe scene was its own art history movement,” she said. “Today, the artists in the glass pipe scene continue to push the envelope and have helped to open doors and minds to this incredible art form in the mainstream world.”
Since 2010, she's gone on to create a style and approach to the art form that is heavily inspired by her upbringing. Having grown up in a family that collects antiques, Sarah was surrounded by “beautiful pieces of timeless objects,” and fell in love with the aesthetic.
“My personal style is heavily influenced by my love of antiques and vintage style,” she explained. “I reference such elements as floral wallpaper, old quilts, cloisonne vases, etc. when deriving inspiration for my work. I have also traveled internationally quite a bit, and these travels always inspire new directions for my work.”
Check out Sarah's newly launched and growing lifestyle brand on her site, with pieces starting at around $40.
Sarah will be judging at the Champs Glass Games happening July 19-22, 2023, in Las Vegas, Nevada, and will be a part of Jake C's show “Pints with Friends” at the Explore Gallery in Denver, Colorado on August 26, 2023.
Artist Matt Campo's use of lines, shapes, and colors would pair exquisitely with a nice Sunset Sherbert, would they not? Or anything Haze, dessert, citrus, or summer is what I would load into his psychedelic and ethereal creations.
After taking a soft glass course in college, Campo fell in love with the medium and upon his graduation in 2013 decided to give glass a shot as a career. “One thing I particularly enjoy about the medium is the scientific approach to attaining the results you want,” he explained. “Glass is different from other mediums because if you do something wrong, the entire piece can shatter or become ruined in a myriad of other ways.”
It's this appreciation of the science behind glassblowing that has helped shape his personal style, characterized by a technique called “fuming” which involves vaporizing metal in a flame to create color and patterning.
“I work primarily with gold and silver fume for the color patterns in my work, and this technique in particular lends itself to a scientific approach,” he said. “The ways in which the metals interact with the glass and produce different colors can change from even the slightest variation in technique.”
As a coloring technique that was very prevalent in early pipe-making, Campo derives a lot of inspiration from classic pipe styles. “I try to get as much inspiration from as many sources as I can, from ancient chillum designs, classic wooden tobacco pipe shapes, and from all of the amazing work being put out by other artists right now.”
Matt offers a line of affordable pieces from $35 to $100, with custom and higher-end work generally in the $250 to $700 range.
Keep your eye on his IG for updates on a coming live demo and product drop at Witch Dr. in Salem, Massachusetts.
Featured image by Ashley Ann Austin/Trip A — collab with Saltglass