Story by E. Keet
Photos by Dan Skye
If you ever thought that the only pipe you’d ever see on your coffee table would be your own, check out Smoked Volume 1 (GritCityInc.) a full color paperback introduction to the works of more than 30 of the sickest glass pipe makers in the country. It’s a collection of photos that will squash any doubts whether smokeware artists belong at the head of the class in the new school of glassblowing. Smoked, the brainchild of designer Brian Jacobson and glassblower Nate Purcell, aka “Just Another Glassblower,” features 150 photographs from top Philly lensman M. Scott Whitson, capturing the intimate details of pieces that look nothing like the pipes of yore.
“One day we will look back at this time as the beginning of something bigger, and this book is one of the documents that will be used to inform people about the history of this movement,” says Smoked Volume 1 contributing artist Slinger.
We recently caught up with the publishers (Brian and Nate) in Philly…
You both have an appreciation for glass that goes beyond just the smoker’s appreciation. Describe how your love of glass pipes got to this level.
NATE: Making pipes was a way of making money to live. Just being creative and trying to make trademark pieces that were recognizable, and would say, this is the person that made that piece. Then I started making bigger stuff, better stuff. It just evolved from there.
BRIAN: My love actually came from meeting Nate. I knew of the glass pipe industry and I had a few, but when I met this kid I just saw how different it could get. The appreciation grew as I met more people involved. I came to realize that it’s bigger than us, it’s more of a movement. It’s more than just a pipe, it’s actually an art form.
BRIAN: There are the rock stars of the industry that everyone knows. That was the best place to start. We relied a lot on Nate’s network of people and his knowledge of the industry to fill in the gaps.
NATE: I’ve been involved in this scene for 10 years, so I know most of the people out there that are really good. The community is spread far and wide, but not very big.
BRIAN: We also put out a post online, a call for entries for whoever was interested. We’re hoping that next time around, people see the quality of Volume 1 and we have a whole spectrum of people we’ve really never heard of before.
NATE: But for the next book, fewer people and more pages per artist, so you can see a full spectrum of the one person’s body of work.
BRIAN: We want everyone to push the limits as much as possible. Letting the blowers know they are competing for limited spots in Volume 2 will generate a much higher quality of work.
The pipes in Smoked are equal in artistry to other hand-blown glass artwork. Is this the objective for more glassblowers?
NATE: That’s exactly what it comes down to. All these people have felt like outcasts for so long, they never thought there’d be a time when pipes would ever make it to the gallery scene. It’s cool to see that change.
BRIAN: Hopefully the book serves as something that will help the artists who really don’t know how to market their pipes as anything other than pipes in order to bring them to the mainstream.
NATE: I think this is a jumpstart for a lot of these people’s careers.
And make sure to visit the GritCityInc. Blog for a look at some of the work featured in Smoked Volume 1 and the March 2009 issue of HIGH TIMES.