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Are All Bongs Hand Blown?
Yes, while some basic bongs can be made without glass blowing per say, most high quality bongs, for the most, are bench torched and hand blown by professional glass studios. This include mass produced bongs that uses a process of molding, spinning, and blowing air.
Here is a great video on the glass blowing process from Purr Glass. They make hand blown glass in the USA.
How are Hand Blown Glass Bongs Made?
The first step in any glass blowing project is first figuring out what you are going to blow! This might often start with a sketch, figuring out the exact dimensions of the glass, and coloration that will be used. There might be challenges, especially when creating more complicated pieces, but hey, it's all part of the art!
(Check out this Youtube video from Revereglass. They go deep into the glass making process from start to finish.)
All Processes start with cutting, marking, measuring and cleaning the glass that is going to be blown. Tools such as wet saws, lapidary wheels, drill presses are used to get that glass to the correct dimensions before Its blown.
Shaping the Hand Blown Glass
Putting a bong together is much like a puzzle, in this case, the glass blower will prep all the pieces first, and then put them together. This will include, the water chamber, neck, mouthpiece, downstem and bowl. The proportions must be accurate.
Many techniques exist to glass blowing, so its not uncommon to find collaboration attempts between different artists. It allows the exchange of different techniques and is one of the best ways to learn.
Various flame working techniques are used which can include flame polishing, rotating the glass and using a torch. The torch helps expand the glass and another tool called a blowpipe helps blow up and bulge the glass into its desired shape. The glass must be constantly rotated to prevent the bong from becoming uneven.
The glass blower will then shape each piece until it is the correct size and shape. A special tool called a punch is used to make holes that can be used to connect all the separated pieces together.
Adding Handblown Color
Color can be added to the bong in several ways, most commonly, by melting colored pigment chunks into the glass. The artist will manipulate and stretch the color into patterns and different lines. In a similar fashion, molten glass can be infused with color and applied over the bong.
Color can also be added in a process called "fuming." Different types of metals are vaporized during the glass making process and will will stretch and coat the glass in streaks of color.
Many artisans will focus on making one piece really good such as recyclers, a two chamber design that processes the water through two interconnected chambers.
The Vortex Klein Recycler is one of our favorites, a very technical piece that requires lots of precision.
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