This week, we are doing the first of a series of posts highlighting our awesome vendors. We were so fortunate to have Jeff From Lab Rat Glass spend some time with us, answering questions and offering insight into his process as an artist. Keep reading to learn more, and definitely check out some of his incredible work on our website!
30 Years Trailblazin’
From humble beginnings hanging out at the Toledo Museum of Art, watching glassblowers work their magic to being one of the first glassblowers in the Midwest focused on cannabis products, Jeff has a deep history in the craft of glass. He has been at this for around 30 years; longer than most in the commercial blown glass pipe scene. As a legacy player in the world of paraphernalia, he has seen tides turn and experienced it firsthand as the industry changed over and over again. Jeff hails from the days when even as a professional artisan, the minute you mentioned you created pipes with your torch, rather than something a little more traditional, you were looked down upon. However, as one of the few artists on the torch in Indiana, regardless of judgment, he managed to carve out a very lucrative niche over the past 3 decades, offering true art pieces that appeal to collectors and avid smokers alike.
How he Got Started
Jeff invested in the glass pipe market for the cannabis industry before glass pipes were even readily available. He owned a shop that carried an assortment of products, including acrylic and gas-mask pipes. When glass pipes started showing up, Jeff was mind blown and quickly got inspired to delve into the art. After watching someone else blow glass a few times, he bought a torch and began practicing. Owning a store afforded a great amount of freedom, as well as immersion in the industry. He was able to progress artistically at his own pace, without pressure to meet anyone’s demand. It gave him a platform to sell on, while also enabling him to see what the demand of the market was like.
Perfecting the Techniques
It takes years to learn new techniques and to become fluent in them. It requires immense discipline. At the time Jeff started, in the early ‘90s, there were only about 9 colors available to create “metalwork” with, or fume as it’s now known. Color-changing pipes were the hottest thing on the market, as people became fascinated with the possibilities of glass. Jeff became deeply intrigued by the color possibilities of dichroic glass and learned to maneuver this very difficult, very temperamental medium over time. Time, patience, losses; it takes a ton of commitment to stick with dichroic, but Jeff perfected his technique and has achieved some of the sickest results since.
Jeff comes from a different era of glassblowers, literally straddling the old world and the new world with a keen dedication to the heritage of glass. He considers himself of the old school when glass craftsmen maintained a serious “Venetian glass” secrecy, and you were sworn to silence regarding sharing trade secrets. A pioneer of the modern movement, however, he learned the old methods as he developed new techniques. You may be hard-pressed to find younger artists capable of creating lampwork, tubing, or millefiori; Jeff makes it known that in the early days, you had to learn these skills.
Eyeing the Future
Jeff is a treasure in this industry, offering heritage and immense artistic devotion. Lab Rat Glass is presently very focused on their carved niche of super heady pieces at affordable prices; bringing superb art to anyone interested in having top-quality. Lab Rat is known for its intense colors, great workmanship, and bold creativity, however, it’s the mystery of what each glass piece will ultimately turn out like, that keeps Jeff inspired.
Looking ahead, Jeff sees glass pipes as a true art of this period in time. He believes the works being created by today’s glass artists are unlike any other ever and these items will be collected and displayed in museums in the future.
Jeff, it is with the most humble appreciation that we could have this time to learn more about you and your incredible work!