“This Is a Pipe” is book about functional glass pipes and the glassblowers who make them. Glassblowers have been making cannabis pipes for years and just like any other art form, it’s undergone transformations.
“The evolution of the glass pipe, which the book talks about, is just that,” said the book’s co-publisher Brad Melshenker. “You went from dry pipes on lot, Dead lot, Phish lot, people traveling — following the band and selling their pipes — bubblers, flower pipes. And then the flower pipes switched over to oil rigs in 2009-2010, and artists really stopped making flower pipes. It was f*cking crazy.”
But the glass art-making community didn’t always thrive. In 2003, it was hit hard with “Operation Pipe Dreams,” a federal investigation targeting businesses selling glass pipes.
“Basically, what happened was they raided head shops and glass blowers. Most prominent were Tommy Chong got arrested, Jerome Baker, Jason Harris got arrested along with his whole crew, a couple other guys up in NorCal and the Pacific Northwest got raided, and it just sent shockwaves through the industry,” said Melshenker. “Some artists said, f*ck you, we don’t care, and 90% of artists said we’re gonna go back underground. It’s not worth risking our livelihood.”
The hit dealt a devastating blow to the glass world, but the artists stayed resilient, and “This Is a Pipe” celebrates what they’ve achieved and overcome.