Degenerate Art | Americana Legacy in Heady Glass


     Think about how glass plays a roll in your life. For many, it’s been a consistent medium between you and the elevated head-change you’re lighting up to. Glass pieces are convenient, especially if you’re not one to roll-one to blaze-one. With that said, not all glass is created equally. For starters, all production glass pieces be excluded; we’re here to celebrate the legacy of heady American glass. 

     Rewinding back to the 80’s to introduce a gentleman, artist, and cultural icon by the name of Robert Snodgrass who singlehandedly pioneered the heady glass movement. He knew no borders as he and his crew traveled the country to share his functional glass art. After traveling for some time, they chose Oregon as home for many reasons including quality herb. It was the originality of Snodgrass pipes and his early glass blowing techniques which influenced other glass artists to gravitate west in search of understanding and learning the rare art form. It was apparent that the younger generation of glass artists would help push the movement to incorporate new and innovative artistic styles and functionalities for herbal consumption.

     As lustrous bongs, bubblers, and intricate glass pipes made their way into American homes in the 90’s, the heady glass artists were beginning to see the fruits of their investments. Much of the movement, credited to the cannabis community, was the functional application of the pieces which gave birth to the new artistic perspective of heady glass. Glass artists continue to test the limits of art & functional glass, and from the untrained eye, it seems limitless. “The feeling of competition without threat or consequence or anything helped us develop new styles at just incredible speeds, from the first one layer outside silver fume to the first layer encasement, to the two-layer double layer patterning, to the inside out, each time something new has developed making the old thing obsolete.” said Jason Lee, Great American Glassblower. 

     “There is no doubt in the world that this color would not be here without the pipe industry.” said Abe Fleishman, Owner, Northstar Glassworks, “the palate has grown dramatically, when we had 12 to 20 something colors in the industry and now we are looking at roughly around 200-300 colors available to us as artists, it’s like a collaboration, it’s definitely the artists that have driven this to where it is.” said Fleishman. Northstar Glassworks and Glass Alchemy, two of the largest art glass manufacturers that call Portland home, have been working hard to supply the Heady Glass movement and in-turn, “we have seen a huge revival in lamp working because of the pipe movement. Because we made color readily available, we started seeing growth in color take place. Any advancement you have seen in the [glass] sculpture world, all came from the advance in the pipe.” said Henry Grimmet of Glass Alchemy.

     The American documentary, Degenerate Art, written and produced by M. Slinger, gives an unprecedented glimpse into this sub-culture. Narrated by glass-blowing icons, this film captures the essence of the movement and how cannabis influenced the evolution of the art, as much as the art elevated the experience of cannabis. As much as functional art has a purpose, some of the heady pieces being crafted today are clearly art over function, as these masterpieces should never be smoked out of. Yet for very good reason, the very bowl and functional mechanics of the artistic glass pieces signifies the very reason the illustrious heady art pieces exist in our world.   


M. Slinger Rig

M. Slinger | American Glassblower, Director of Degenerate ArtM. Slinger | American Glassblower, Director of Degenerate Art

Heady Head Piece by Justin Jenicke @ickeglass


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