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The 2021 Glass Issue

The best of the best in glass across America.

© 2021 Mothership Glass

Today, glass culture has blown up into an accepted form of mainstream art that’s rapidly exploding in awareness and value. Custom pieces fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars and get millions of views on social media – transfixing the heady community with innovative displays of art that will get you stoned just looking at them. And on a more functional level, each piece made by hand carries the energy of the artist into each sesh – with the intention of the creator carrying the smoke and vapor into the lungs of a lucky recipient. We hope you enjoy the 2021 featured artists as much as we do!

Haaps Glass in Washington

Photo by Jamie Zill
Photo by Jamie Zill

Hailing from the PNW, Ian Haapala is easily one of the most prominent up-and-coming glass artists in the game right now. Living in Washington state his entire life, he moved to Seattle with the motivation and inspiration to learn more about borosilicate and the art of pipe making. For the past five years, he has diligently spent his time blowing glass nearly every single day. With a primary focus on spiral cane millie, Haapala continues pushing himself to produce unique and innovative patterns. As featured, this style of rig named “quasi” showcases Orange Sunshine from Portland, Oregon’s Glass Alchemy.

High Grade Mike in Washington

Making a living doing what you love is paramount to a true artist. So when High Grade Mike attended Barter Faire in 1999, where he witnessed first-hand a community of creators making their living by crafting unique works, his aha moment arrived. All that was needed to set course was a torch of his own – which he scooped up a couple of years later – and in 2005, the journey began to take shape.

High Grade Mike’s studio is packed with all types of art, but his true love is creating glass masterpieces in bongs, rigs, bowls, cups, and other functions of glassware. You’ll notice in his details that there’s a mixing of line work with wigwag that is inspired by space and color, especially those of the Crayola nature. In his studio, the background music will always be a source of inspiration that he blends into the busy pieces, through the love of reggae and other conscious vibes.

Stan Alba in California

Stan Alba apprenticed with the legendary Bob Snodgrass after meeting the master in the parking lot of a Grateful Dead show as a teenager and learned the intricacies of the “fuming” style that Snodgrass invented. Alba moved down to California’s Humboldt County in 1998, blowing glass in the Emerald Triangle, where he currently lives on his own swath of property. Alba’s stunning style of fuming and building pieces is intensive, sometimes taking him three months to create one piece. Alba loves to collaborate with other glassblowers, creating lasting friendships with every stunning work of art.

Bluegrass Glass in California

Bluegrass Glass owner Ari Rom brings a hyper-scientific approach to his artwork. His introduction to glassblowing began in a lab equipment shop in New Jersey, where he crafted glass for laboratory equipment before getting into the Cannabis world. “The big kicker was the economy crashing in ‘08,” Rom said. “The market was all fucked up. The whole scientific industry was going to shit, and at the same time, the weed industry and the glass industry was booming.” Now living in Humboldt County, Rom’s distinct lamp-style pieces have garnered such a following that he has a six-month waitlist for a piece, and most of his new creations go to collectors who already own one. 

Jeff Spaga in Maryland

Jeff started blowing glass in 2014 when a buddy of his returned home from California, where he had just learned the trade himself. His friend wanted to start up a studio and needed someone to work with. “Naturally, he asked if I wanted to join him and I picked it up pretty quickly, and began doing it as my main source of income,” Jeff said with a grin. As a self-taught artist who mostly creates functional pieces with out-of-this-world line work, Jeff draws inspiration from some of the line work greats like Eusheen and Cowboy. Occasionally on the nonfunctional side he makes marbles, and has plans on making some larger ones in the future. Custom orders are also available.

GlassKid in Maryland

Jerrad Santmyer, aka GlassKid, has been crushing the game with his miniature glass items – from bowls the size of a grain of rice to nature-scene-in-a-bottle pendants, including mushrooms, slugs, and crystals throughout a vast and detailed forest. Jerrad attended Salem Community College with a focus on glass art, working among some truly inspiring classmates in a massive studio. He draws inspiration from his childhood, where he had a passion for collecting miniature items. Jerrad noticed that people had a strong appreciation for miniature glass objects and wanted to fill that niche. Instead of going for his usual forte of making large pipes, he decided to make a tiny one instead. The rest is history.

KGB Glass in Maine

Brian Owoc moved to Portland, Maine in 1998 and was staying at a YMCA when he got his first job working the night shift at Dunkin’ Donuts. He really enjoyed making them, because “donuts make people happy.” During this time, he decided to rent out a section of his garage so that his friend could build a small glass studio, with the promise that the friend would teach him to blow glass. 

It wasn’t long before he started to get the hang of it and decided to try and make his first Donut Bowl. 

While selling his pieces of glass to local headshops, he met his girlfriend Sarah Marblesbee, who was working as a manager at one of the stores. That was 10 years ago. They now share a studio in Portland where she also blows her own glass pipes, as well as adding her business degree and background to his creativity and workaholic style.

Some glass artists teased him about making Donut Bowls, but that didn’t stop Brian. Now his Donut glass pipes, rigs, and pendants are collected and sold throughout the world. Some people have accumulated more than 100 of his pieces!

Glass Mafia in Maine

Mike Miller learned how to create glass art from his father while they were following Rainbow Festivals. Mike’s dad, a glassblower known as “Capt,” bought a school bus in 1995, loaded his five kids into it, and started teaching them the trade, while also selling glass pieces at different musical events. 

Mike tells Leaf Nation, “I was blowing and selling glass before I knew how to read, and teaching people how to blow glass by age 13.”

After converting his home garage into a glass studio, Mike and his girlfriend Hanna (@sirenglass), plus three other glassblowers now make pieces for the store and for online sales. Mike’s dad, who no longer blows glass due to health issues, is often at the studio watching Mike and his oldest son creating glass art with pride. 

For the past five years, Mike has organized glass blowing demonstrations at events such as the Community Bonfire. He’s a licensed Maine caregiver and operates the Maine Daze Smoke Shop in Portland. “It’s all about providing for my family and helping people. It’s our family business.”

Chris Carlson in Oregon

Photo by Chris Carlson

Beginning his glass blowing career in Los Angeles in 2001, Chris Carlson is well known for his perfectly executed sherlock pipes and basket weaving technique, amongst many other creations. Now living in Oregon, Carlson pulls a flat ribbon of glass with beautiful stripes, then chips the glass into smaller squares. From there, he rearranges the glass to form incredibly intricate patterns. Carlson also offers unique crate and collector sets that often include matching rigs, dry pipes, pendants, and jars. This 2021 chip collectors tube has 164 pieces and is a part of a big crate set in the collection.

Skyler Baisch in Alaska

Shipe Shots Photography Photo by Shipe Shots

Skyler Baisch spent his early years on a horse ranch in Colorado before moving to the wilds of Detroit. In his early teens, he was uprooted again and found himself deep in the backwoods of Wasilla, Alaska. Predominantly known for producing some of the state’s best Cannabis, Baisch’s new home was the catalyst behind his love of the plant and blowing functional glass. Although Baisch was actively producing glasswork in his early 20s, he put his passion aside to start a family. After years of working in landscaping, the perils of COVID-19 put his small business on the ropes and signaled his return to glass. 

“The landscaping business was falling on its face. I mean, who wants to call somebody to mow the lawn or cut down a tree when you have to worry about a pandemic,” explains Baisch. 

With a focus on providing for his family, Baisch has set up shop in a gutted 1969 Shasta trailer in his yard. For the moment, the cost of shipping glass materials, limited space, and the Alaskan market have dictated that Baisch focus on creating spoons – but don’t be surprised if you see big things coming from him soon.

#Vinë in Alaska

Shipe Shots Photography Photo by Shipe Shots

In a state as grand as Alaska, bigger is almost always bigger – except when it comes to how we consume our Cannabis. In lieu of grandiose dab rigs, most Alaskans opt for the functional artwork of petite spoons that are perfect for sparking up before hitting the mountains. But size limitations haven’t stopped #vinë from creating memorable, fantastical pieces to suit every style. Using techniques that range from Ratachello to Incalmo, #vinë has asserted himself as one of Alaska’s best blowers. 

This article was originally published in the April 2021 issue of all Leaf Magazines.

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