Leaf Nation Logo
Photos by Alex Reyna

Leaf Glass Special 2024: Molten Art Classic

The crew had so much fun that they decided to make it an annual event, and it's grown exponentially bigger ever since.

Far more than just cool, heady bongs, the pieces crafted by the Molten Art Classic crew are some of the most elaborate and unique functional glass sculptures the world has ever seen.

What began nearly a decade ago as an excuse for a few glassblower buddies to get together has evolved into one of the world’s most ambitious glass art collaboration projects: the Molten Art Classic.

First organized in 2015 by glassblowers Carlos Ali, Steve “Hops” Hoppenfeld and Adam “Hoobs” Whobrey, the project was initially called “The Ziggys Classic” – named after Ziggys Smoke Shop (Ali’s glass gallery in Huntington Beach), which hosted the live glass blowing event to celebrate the shop’s fifth anniversary. Over the course of a week, six artists worked together to create a phenomenal, functional funny car called “Tow U.” 

The crew had so much fun that they decided to make it an annual event, and it’s grown exponentially bigger ever since. In 2016, nine artists contributed to the creation of the “Ziggy’s Correctional Bus” piece. Then, in 2017, things really started getting serious: Before the event began, Hoobs and Hops spent two weeks constructing a preliminary framework upon which 16 other artists would then contribute their own unique elements. The result was a vaunted vessel weighing over 18 pounds and standing 29 inches tall that they dubbed “The Sea Cow Pirate Ship.” 

By that time, Hoobs and his partners recognized they were onto something big. So in 2018, they rebranded their annual mega-collab as “The Molten Art Classic,” created a website for it, brought in sponsors, and made arrangements to film a documentary and publish a book about the project. That July, their “Glass Odyssey Space Station” art piece became the largest glass art collaboration in the nation – weighing in at a whopping 50 pounds, standing 48 inches tall, and featuring over 3,000 hours of work from 27 different artists. 

That was followed by another boat, “Shipwreck 420 Leagues Under the Sea” in 2019, and then the mean, green “Grave Dabber” monster truck in 2020 – featuring wheels that actually roll, made of rubber-coated glass with ball bearings and sandblasted tread (which later won first place for Best Collab at Glass Vegas’ 2022 World Series of Glass competition). Sadly, due to Covid, the MAC was canceled in 2021 … but the group returned to Hoobs’ Classic 33 Studio in fall 2022 to create another badass borosilicate behemoth: the “Kiln Buster” Samurai Robot (over 2,500 hours of work, 33 inches tall, 45.5 pounds), which again won first place for Best Collab at Glass Vegas in 2023. 

Due to the vast amount of time and resources necessary to produce one of these epic pieces (thousands of hours and tens of thousands of dollars), the MAC team has decided that going forward, they’ll only have the bandwidth to produce their pieces biannually. 

“Currently, our goal is to complete one more project this year, complete the filming and editing of a short film about the project, and plan a nationwide museum tour of the entire decade-long body of work that will tentatively begin in 2025,” Hoobs tells us. “After that, we will be transitioning into a new series of even bigger ideas that will span multiple years to accomplish each conceptual collaboration, with the goal of creating pieces that will truly stand the test of time as some of the greatest flameworked sculptures ever created.”

I think I speak for our entire community when I say we can’t wait to see what epic insanity MAC’s torches conjure up next. 


Photos by @areysocal

About Bobby Black

Bobby Black is a marijuana media icon. He spent 21 years at High Times magazine as an associate art director, senior editor, and columnist. He is currently the Content Director of California Leaf and Competition Director of the Leaf Bowl cannabis competitions. He is also the Executive Director of the World of Cannabis Museum project, host/writer of the cannabis history podcast/column Cannthropology, and co-founder of Higher Way Travel.

Are you 21 or older? This website requires you to be 21 years of age or older. Please verify your age to view the content, or click "Exit" to leave.