We believe in supporting American-made products and the local cannabis community – and so we’ve partnered with Southern Oregon local glass blowers, a collaborative co-op team of artists named Ed Wolfe’s Got Glass, to offer hand and water pipes directly from our site. You’ll be able to find unique pieces on LeafPon soon!
Ed & company are known for their intricate ‘wrap and rake’ color technique and ‘triple donut’ pipe configuration style (more on that later.) We got together to get a little backstory on this historic glass blower’s team and find out more about the makers of these fine products. Available to meet with us was Betty Wolfe, Ed’s wife, marketer and crucial part of the EWGG operation.
How did Ed Wolfe’s Got Glass get its start and evolve into what it is today?
We work as a co-op, and everyone who contributes to our pieces have worked for other companies in the past. The company everyone else was working for went out of business, so we got together and just decided to just do it on our own.
So there’s a team of you, all working together?
Yes, there are five people, including myself, who contribute to what we do.
Was there a pivotal moment when Ed decided to start being a glass blower?
Ed had been a mechanic for years, and when we moved to Oregon, the pay just wasn’t very good for auto mechanics and weren’t really paying what he was worth. So a friend of ours offered him a job as a glass blower, and that’s how it all started!
Can you tell us about the process of making your work?
The water pipes start on clear borosilicate tubing, which is put on a lathe and heated. Then, we use color rods to apply color stringers to the clear glass. That’s melted in and gone over with another coat of either clear or different translucent color. Then all of that is heated back up, melted and shaped on the lathe.
Tell us about the signature ‘triple donut technique’ used in some of your pieces.
The people who work for us were actually the first people to do a donut in the neck of a water pipe, and the tripe donut was actually them just showing off. Everyone our group worked for prior to us were putting donuts in their little hand pipes. Someone had made a remark to our lathe worker about not being able to do it, and he responded, “Not only can I do a donut, I’ll make a three way donut!” After he made the first one, they just took off and customers loved them because no one had ever seen something like that before. That’s why we put ‘Original Triple Donut’ on all our advertising, as our lathe worker was absolutely the first person to pull it off.
Where does the inspiration/ideas for the more intricate pieces come from?
Usually it’s just from the hang out sessions we [the employees and owners] have together. We’re all close friends, so it’s then that we’ll come up with a new idea or color pattern, when we are hanging out together.
Which piece of artwork would Ed like to be remembered for – does he have a favorite project?
There is one piece that we all worked on – it’s a 24 inch water pipe with four 4-way donuts, mushrooms, and all kinds of crazy stuff. It’s probably one of the greatest pieces we ever did.
What are some of the challenges of being in the glassblowing business?
I would say that the greatest challenge most American glass blowers are facing right now is that the entire industry used to be run by people who smoked, for people who smoked. With legalization, the industry is now all about big business, and so we have to do things in a big business style. Our industry used to be more like a family party, where people were the value. Now the profit margin is the value. Hopefully, this trend will reverse itself.
There used to be a very tight community all across the United States, of people who owned smoke shops and made pipes, even when the industry was completely taboo. We all had a certain loyalty to each other then, and we’ve noticed there’s a lot of money coming now that isn’t part of that community. Their bottom line is profit, and so it doesn’t bother them to sell imports. There used to be a concentrated effort to sell and represent American glass, and that’s not so much the case anymore.
What’s the most rewarding part of doing what you do?
It is somewhat like being part of a legacy. When you’ve been glass blowers for as long as we have, you’ll go through a lot of legal ups and downs. It wasn’t so friendly about 20 years ago – we were kind of considered outlaws. As far forward as things have moved in the cannabis community, to be a part of that, is a great legacy. We’ve been here the whole time. We were there before it was cool to be there.
What advice would you give to someone interested in pursuing a similar career?
Probably to be aware of how fast the industry is changing and keep on top of the trends – it’s a very trendy industry now.
So customer demand influences a lot of the work you make?
Yes. What people want changes every day, and it’s become pretty difficult to keep up with the trends. So, you have to be out there and on top of it, and know what the public wants!
You can find more examples of Ed Wolfe’s Got Glass signature pieces and keep up with their trade show touring via their Instagram, @edwolfesgotglass. Be on the look out for these one-of-a-kind hand and water pipes on LeafPon coming soon!