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Tips for Buying Your First Heady Glass Pipe

Published on May 22, 2018 · Last updated July 28, 2020
(Patrick Bennett/Leafly)

Shopping for Your First Heady Glass Pipe

Purchasing your first cannabis pipe can be a bit confusing. Between finding reputable vendors, learning the lingo, and selecting a piece that suits your individual needs, there’s a lot to learn and consider before diving in. Fear not: this series will give you an overview of the purchasing process, including how to choose your first flower pipe or dab rig, where to shop for glass online, and an introduction to functional and non-functional glass art.

Over the last couple decades, the world of artistic glass—sometimes referred to as “heady glass”—has blown up. Heady glass refers to pipes that emphasize aesthetic and artistic skill over pure functionality. These glass masterpieces demonstrate the breadth of technical talent and the height of human imagination, combining both in astounding proportions.

But how exactly does heady glass differ from the mass-produced pipes lining the shelves of smoke shops? Just take a look at Illuzion Glass Galleries in Denver, Colorado. Among the incomparable selection of world-class glass art is a piece called “Double Rainbow.” A collaborative project inspired by the 2010 viral video, this breathtaking pipe took the talents of five glass artists: Adam G, Darby, Buck, 2BA, and Eusheen. It sports a price tag of $33,000—costing more than a 2018 Mercedes Benz CLA.

Believe it or not, this price tag pales in comparison to some of the other works on display at Illuzions. “The Throne,” created by Clinton Roman, Scott Deppe, Darby Holm, and Banjo in 2010, is a one-of-a-kind piece priced at $1,000,000.

Not all heady glass costs as much as a luxury car, but they do tend to run for a higher price due to their complexity and originality. Whether you’re an aspiring collector or a curious spectator of glass art, here’s what you’ll need to know about this extravagant corner of the glass market.

Functional vs. Non-functional Glass

Cannabis pipes are regarded as “functional glass,” or glass that you can smoke out of. And then there’s “non-functional glass,” which is purely aesthetic.

Functional glass art is relatively new to the scene. Consumers have been slow to embrace it, but between cannabis legalization and the explosion of social media, functional glass art has found its place in the industry.

The cannabis industry has also boosted the popularity of non-functional glass. Many glass blowers have established aesthetic styles that have transcended functionality. Glass pendants, for example, are non-functional art pieces highly revered by collectors in the cannabis space, and they reflect some of the earliest traditions in glass art, tracing back thousands of years.

Value and Pricing of Heady Glass

Heady glass can cost hundreds or thousands of dollars, but how can one piece of glass art be worth so much money? The answer is somewhat complicated.

On one side, art prices fluctuate based on demand. Famous glass artists can afford to sell their work for more. However, this paints an incomplete picture of how the market functions. Critics, collectors, artists, curators, gallery owners, convention operators, and retailers all play a part in the perceived value of a glass art piece.

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What’s more, the internet—namely social media—has allowed for self-promotion on a level that has never been seen before. Artists can share their work with massive audiences across multiple highly visual platforms to promote their work with ease. Establishing hype around glass art has never been easier.

Tips for Buying Heady Glass Art

Throwing down large sums of money for a single rig is an investment one should not take lightly. If you plan on entering the world of high-end glass, there are a few ground rules you should know:

  • Know your seller. This cannot be stressed enough. Only buy glass art from a reputable source. These may include art galleries, established head shops, collectors at trade shows or conventions, or buying directly through a trusted artist. If you are unsure about the authenticity of a piece, ask for certifications and proof. Unfortunately, knock-offs are out there and plague the industry.
  • Test the functionality. Don’t be afraid to ask for a demonstration when considering a piece of functional glass. Many glass pieces incorporate farfetched and outlandish features that may not be readily observable.
  • Research the artist. When collecting glass art, there are thousands of artists to choose from. Not all artists are selling their work for tens of thousands of dollars, either. Find an artist that meets both your aesthetic and functional needs while maintaining a price point you can afford.
  • Protect your glass. Many artists include protective casings for their work, especially at higher price points. Either way, never leave a sale without some level of protection for your glass piece.
  • Share the love. Art is meant to be shared. This sentiment should continue beyond the point of sale. Many functional art pieces may not be used in the traditional sense, but allow others to at least appreciate the beauty of the work and the talent it took to create it.

Lead image by Patrick Bennett/Leafly

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Patrick Bennett
Patrick Bennett
Patrick lives with his wife and daughter in Denver, where he spends his time writing, photographing, and creating content for the cannabis community.
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