Glass creations for your smoking pleasure

Mike+Porter%2C+owner+and+head+lampworker+at+Glassphemy%2C+makes+a+goblet+from+scratch+on+Friday.

WILLIAM ZIEHL III | The Daily Evergreen

Mike Porter, owner and head lampworker at Glassphemy, makes a goblet from scratch on Friday.

LAUREN ELLENBECKER, Mint reporter

What started as a traveling business throughout cities in Washington has transformed into a local retail and lampworking studio called Glassphemy, created, owned and operated by Mike Porter and Willow Falcon.

Glassphemy was established in 2009 and contains an assortment of all things smoking related. There are vaporizers, hookahs, gas mask bongs, “normal” bongs, grinders, pipe cases, ash catchers, bowls, wood pipes, hologram pictures to stare at when you’re stony bologna, and other accessories.

The store’s name derives from two perspectives: pipes have a cloudy stigma, and the way they are used could be considered acts of “glassphemy,” Falcon said.

Glassphemy can be referred to as a community-built store because its inventory is constructed on customers’ wants and needs, Falcon said. People give suggestions regarding what they would like to see in the shop and that’s why there is so much variety in the store, she said.

Products sold in Glassphemy are purchased from other independent glassblowers, in addition to things produced by three lampworkers and Porter, who is a lampworker himself. Crafting glass is technically called “lampworking” and it entails technical and creative work. Porter said this room for creativity and the technicality of the work has pushed him to continue practicing his craft for 15 years.

“[Lampworking] is not like most things you would encounter in your daily life,” Porter said. “It’s a great joy.”

Lampworking is similar to making a pizza. It can take a small amount of time to assemble something, but then you have to bake it, which can take hours or days, and then there’s a cooling period before you can “bite into it,” he said.

His favorite things to make are coils, which aren’t technically finished products, but in them he can display his imagination. It’s hard to explain the appeal of making coils, Porter said, as bending the glass takes a great deal of control, but is very relaxing and feels good in general.

“I guess you don’t know until you try it,” he said.

There is a whole process to making a glass piece: every new color, shape or addition to the product adds more time to its creation. The scary thing about the craft is that a person can work on a piece for days and then have it break in a second, he said. However, this can prove to be a blessing and a curse.

“Glass making really helps you get to know yourself,” Porter said. “Learning how to deal with failure and frustration makes you think. Do you give up or keep going, do you turn it into something great or just hate it?”

He holds this mentality closely. When making custom pieces, a lot of experimentation is involved, and this means there can be some “duds.” However, Porter said he sees this as an opportunity to learn from his mistakes.

In addition to experimentation, it is important to hear advice from other artists and learn their techniques. Going to trade shows allows Porter to network with other artists and find out what’s happening in the glass community.

Around this time of the year, April 20, individuals indulge in a holiday-like celebration of cannabis consumption. As a smoke shop, Glassphemy is guaranteed to participate in the holidaze.

This year, Glassphemy decided to hold a giveaway of four signature pieces from the store’s production crew, Falcon said. In addition to this, almost everything in the store will be 20 percent off.

Normally, there is a spike in sales around 420, but afterward there tends to be a lull in sales. Therefore, it averages out, Porter said.

Glassphemy hopes to stay current with new and innovative products within both the smoke shop industry and the lampworking community, Porter and Falcon said.