Checking out hand-blown dookie chains and pieces by Bob Snodgrass and other legends
It never got better, for lots of us, than when the Dead came to town. All the local heads would make their way down to the parking garages near the Boston Garden. Say what you will about the Grateful Dead, but their contributions and influence on cannabis culture are always worth mentioning. It would be like a square mile or so of colorful folks with available “goods,” often some form of contraband like handmade weed pipes.
Many of the strains we now have and really the rich cannabis culture we enjoy today is thanks in part to all those pre-wooks touring with the Dead and sharing strains. Ancillary cannabis purchases account for a significant portion of the economy, and that’s nothing new for folks from this sphere. Theirs is a culture built on the ingenuity of people looking to sustain themselves while homeless on the road with the neverending hippie circus.
Notably, Bob Snodgrass is credited as being the grandfather of hand-blown color-changing pipes, and styles like the glass sidecar and hammer came directly from him. He patented his glass pipe design in 1971 and seems to be the first person to smoke weed out of one. Snodgrass was very much a Deadhead with a background in manufacturing, and somehow figured out how to make glass cannabis smoking devices. And using specific minerals in his glass mix, Snodgrass accidentally invented color-changing glass, with his pieces gaining immediate popularity and by word of mouth becoming highly sought after.
Ornamental and colored glass goes back to Roman times, and these ancient techniques were brought over from Europe to the New World and notably to Joseph Foster’s shop in Stoddard, New Hampshire in the mid-1800s. New Hampshire’s glass history is still alive today, as folks here blow glass using similar methods to those employed by artisans who came before them. The Hot Glass Art Center in Marlborough actively runs community programs and teaches people to blow beautiful ornamental works of their own.
New Hampshire’s rich hand-blown glass is also still good business. The Corner News in nearby Keene specializes in curating and displaying pieces by specific talents. Some artists are creating surrealist pieces that look like teddy bears, lobster claws, or even nautical scenes. They have at least a dozen area artists displayed at any given time, and tell me there’s a huge demand for the popular collections.
New England local Kyle Camyre is one such artist who has found his niche in glass. His Blingin Beads have become part of cannabis culture around here, and the “custom glass” rope chains have been given out as prizes at major cannabis contests. Camyre says he “wanted them but couldn’t find anybody to make him a set,” so he invented a process, not unlike those who came before him. He says his design method is very nuanced, and that he “has the customer base to support scaling up the operation, but the methods and techniques required to create them wouldn’t be easy to teach to somebody else, which is unfortunate because there is a pretty long Blingin Beads waiting list.”
In the meantime, there is plenty of remarkable glass to choose from.
Check out Graham’s interview with Stoddard Glass here