Ever wondered how blown glass pipes get created? In this blog, Tako goes into detail about how he creates his pipes, from start to finish. Like learning how a wizard creates spells, this is a really cool look into the physical process from the artist himself!
How it All Starts
Most pipes start out as clear glass tubing. The tubing varies in size from 50 x 5 mm - 38 x 4 mm. These clear tubes come in 5-foot sections by the case. I break down the tubes into 4 to 5-inch sections and add a 9.5 mm blow tube to the end of them. I usually break these tubes down on the glass lathe in the morning. I might make myself 10 blanks in the morning to warm up and those blanks go into a kiln at 1050° F to keep them warm.
When I’m ready to make a pipe, I pull out a blank and head over to my workbench with my big Herbert Arnold torch. I open up the end of the big tube. I add crushed-up colored glass called frit to the inside of the blank; this is where the insane colors come from and why it’s a different result every time. Then, I carefully heat up the blank, while I’m spinning the tube so that all the frit sticks to the inside of the tube.
I then close up the other end of the tube. I attach a handle (called a punty) to the now-closed end of the tube.
Two-Hands on Deck
Now I have two hands controlling this glass blank, which makes the process pretty interesting. I like to start on the left-hand side of the blank where my blowtube is and heat that area until the glass frit melts smoothly on the inside of the glass. Next, I stretch that area to form the mouthpiece and neck of the pipe. Here, I will knock off my punty on the other end.
Next comes the work with the right-hand side. I give the pipe a puff of air and this forms the bowl area or the head of the pipe. Using my torch with a very small flame, I choose the area where I want to place the bowl’s hole. When decided, I’ll put that pinpoint flame right in that area. Let the heat soak in and then puff and I’ll blow out a tiny hole for the bowl hole.
Furthering the process along, I’ll heat up the surrounding area and use my five-eighths-inch graphite rod that has a tapered end and push in to create the bowl. I’ll move over to the left-hand side of the pipe with that same pinpoint flame and blow out a carb.
Next, I move to the bottom of the pipe and heat that area, and then flatten it on my table. At this point, the pipe is pretty much done. I grab my claw grabbers and put them around the bowl/ head area of the pipe and clamp them down.
Now I can tear off the blow tube and I’m still hanging onto the pipe. I melt the blow tube off and then pick it open with tweezers and glass rods to thin that mouthpiece area to open up a hole. I melt the hole in and then round it out with my octagonal graphite reamer.
Method to the Magic
If you have a Tako Glass pipe, friends, this is how it was most likely created. While the intricacies, details, colors, opals, shape, and style may vary from piece to piece, this is the technique I have developed to get the results I’m after. Turning minerals and glass into a functional work of art is alchemy and it sure is satisfying to create!