Craft: Wes Griffiths, Glass Blower & DJ

Written by BlackbirdGo March 7, 2018
The People

We visited the home studio of glassblower, Wes Griffiths, to observe his creative process and chat about what it means to be a maker. Read the full discussion below, and follow Wes on Instagram.

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Photo: Alisha Funkhouser

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Photo: Wes Griffiths

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Photo: Alisha Funkhouser

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Photo: Wes Griffiths

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Photo: Alisha Funkhouser

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Photo: Wes Griffiths

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Photo: Alisha Funkhouser

Tell us a little bit about what sparked your interest in becoming a Glass Blower? Was it the art form itself, your interest in Cannabis or something else?

WES: I needed a job. I was doing house painting, tile, graphic design, but they were all a bad fit. I met a glass blower by the name of Joe Gentry and he talked me into giving it a try. I had another friend offering me a tattoo apprenticeship, but playing with fire sounded better than getting anywhere near someone else's blood.

How did you learn your craft?

WES: I took an apprenticeship and learned how to pull points and make spoons. Spoon is an industry term for a simple hand pipe. I quickly fell in love with the process and materials. I learned a lot from my apprenticeship. I also learned a lot through experimentation after I started working alone. I took some demonstration classes from very accomplished glassblowers, Banjo and Eusheen. That was a real eye opener as far as possibilities in scale, detail, and level of precision that could be attained in the world of glass pipes.

I learn the most through repetition. To this day I can't really make anything without wanting to make it again and again, refining the shape and the process. Glass is mysterious and magical, especially at first, but it will teach you so much through your interaction with the medium. There is so much to learn, so many challenges. It never gets old.

How has both your art and your career evolved since becoming a glassblower 8 years ago?

WES: I used to make a lot of spoons. These days I make mostly mini-tubes, really small bongs. When I started I wasn't really aware of dabbing. Now the majority of my work is for vaporizing concentrates and I rarely find time to make the spoons I used to. Along the way my work has gotten cleaner and simpler. I like to focus on the quality of the details rather than the number of features or designs incorporated. Less is more has been a guiding philosophy for the last 4 or 5 years.

When creating a new piece, what is usually the biggest influencer on the direction you take (i.e. color, product, mood)?

WES: I rarely work in clear glass, so color is the starting point. The color available is the biggest limitation, but every year the pallet is expanding. Once I've acquired colors I like, it's just a matter of finding color combinations that excite me. Sometimes the color scheme is inspired by a sunset, sometimes a running shoe, sometimes it's more abstract. I have shapes I would like to and will explore more in the future, but most of my work is a variation on the same shape. Like I said, I really like repetition.

How has mentorship helped you in your development as an artist?

WES: I have had a lot of mentors. It's so much harder to do anything in this world all alone. Joe taught me how to do this and I will be forever grateful to him. N3rd glass has also been quite the mentor, he is a wealth of knowledge. I have so many wonderful friends I have learned from, and I would consider them all mentors. I feel it's important to be open to learning from anyone. I had an apprentice for a while and he taught me things about glass.

Do you feel mentorship is an especially important aspect to crafts like glassblowing?

WES: I don't think they are absolutely necessary to acquiring skills in the crafts, but if you can find a mentor, you've found an amazing resource.

If you could describe your artistic ethos, what would it be?

WES: Simplicity. Cleanliness.

Who are some of your biggest influences?

WES: Eusheen Goines, Hamm, Alex Ubatuba, Adam G.

As successful as you are in your craft, your voice in the cannabis industry is well respected - especially in California. Are there any specific issues that you care about currently in the newly legalized market?

WES: I do think it's a huge symbolic step in the right direction, outright recreational legalization; but I think new laws in California make it harder for small businesses and entrepreneurs to thrive in the industry in favor of big business. This industry already exists. I'd hate to see the small guys pushed out. The best Cannabis is grown on a small scale. Small businesses spend money and are a tremendous benefit to local economies. It would be a real shame if the only good cannabis in your state was illegal and your state was recreational.

What has been the most challenging aspect for you as a working Glass Blower?

WES: Time management. That's probably a boring answer. I'm torn between a desire to work nonstop but also being a present father and husband, all while having no desire to watch a clock, and then there are distractions. There is never enough time.

Where can people purchase your work?

WES: At The Peacepipe Smoke Shop or The Mighty Quinn those two stores have the best inventory of my work, currently.

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