The Reasons Behind the Cost of High Quality Glass

You may have asked at some point “Why does this pipe cost more than $100?” and been left a little confused when not given a good explanation. There are quite a few possible reasons for this, one of them being that glass is art! We know it can be hard to justify spending a pretty penny on a smoking device, especially in this economy, but we’re going to explain why to some it’s worth it. From Headies to artistic additions, we’ll get into why some glass pieces are so much more expensive than others.

The first reason we’ll dive into is Headies vs. Production. Production glass is made in an assembly line style, with each person focusing on one part over and over, while Heady glass is typically made by 1 to 3 people who have to plan out every step and make the piece functional alone. If there’s only one person making all of the glass, they may spend hours on one part, perfecting the details and adding finishing touches. Some artists just starting out undersell themselves to get into stores, which is why we see some talented glassworkers drop out and have to get day jobs. On the other hand, some artists charge what they deem their work is worth, and since beauty is in the eye of the beholder there really is no cap on the price of heady pieces in the industry.

Another reason a glass piece might cost more than you’d like is because of the material used. Soft glass will typically be on the more affordable side because it’s easier to obtain and work with, while the thicker, borosilicate is usually on the spendier side. An ounce of Boro glass rods can cost anywhere from $3 to $25 while the most expensive soft glass rods usually cap out at around $15. There are constantly new colors being created and some old original ones that have been discontinued and coveted to scarcity, so while the average eye may not recognize these colors, people heavy into the glass industry will appreciate the rarity.

The last reason we’ll talk about is artist additives to the glass. Fuming has grown in popularity lately, that’s the process of blowing the fumes of precious metals onto hot glass to give it a color changing hue, depending on the metal used. Most metals are very toxic when heated up so the majority of what you see will be 22k/24k gold or 99.9% silver as sterling silver contains copper which puts off toxic fumes.

You may also see Millies, small images encased in the glass, the artist will either stack glass rods in a specific pattern before melting them together and stretching them to produce a clear image, or they will purchase some from another artist to incorporate into their work, as it takes a steady hand and a lot of patience. Opals and Dichroic glass are another element that are now more available than ever, but it does present a challenge for the artists as all opals are lab grown and dichroic glass must be made in a vacuum tube because of all the metals it contains.

All of these aspects are added costs for the artist and they have to take this into consideration so they can purchase material for the next project, while still feeding their families and keeping the lights on. Although we all want to have the coolest glass from the most renowned blower, just like everything else, fame brings demand which allows artists to be more in control of their pricing and products. Sometimes that odd looking rig from a glass artist just starting out will appreciate in value as they get more recognition, meaning that pipe you spent $100 on will be worth more in a few years because it was an artist’s ‘first run’.

To see examples of some of the fine work of our American Glass Artists, come on by the dispensary on Fourth Plain in Vancouver, and ask for a Glasstender. We’re always willing to talk high quality glass and grass with you!