Glass has been around forever and has many stories regarding its origins. It has been identified as far back as Ancient Egypt, and was rediscovered accidentally by Phoenician sailors during the Roman Empire. From decorative Egyptian beads to Venetian stained glass windows to modern vases in our everyday decor, glass has found a purpose in human lives for millennia. Glass formation has given us choices in what we use every day: we drink from glasses, eat from delicate tableware, and look through glasses to improve our vision. Glass has been never been as practical, functional, or as profitable as it is today.
The Great Canadian Glassblower
When we see men with long, lush beards, we sometimes think of the bearded gents with burly occupations like lumberjacks and motorcycle mechanics. However, in the Canadian cannabis community, men with beautiful scruffy beards are likely to be glassblowers, the ‘manly men’ of the cannabis industry. They can be found working both indoors and out, withstanding high degrees of torched heat, blowing, bending and shaping molten glass with their instruments to earn a living for their families.
Their beards are a statement to the manliness that these glass-bending masters represent and are a sexy mystery that have ladies on their toes. When I think of beards, I think of one I really dig: the one on Patrick “Redbeard” Vrolyk, the great Canadian glassblower.
When once handcrafted glass was thought to be a dying art it has resurfaced with the dawning of a new glass era, gracefully making its way into a culture well-suited for it, by supplying cannabis using glass collectors with art and function.
My personal favourite glass, of any of my glass, is my Redbeard silver and gold, fumed ‘Rosey’ glass piece. It goes beyond the means of multifunctional, and with seven pieces as a whole set it really gave me more than its value.
It has honeycomb work and rose bitch windows delicately blossomed from the bottom of the beaker style base. In addition, the beautiful swirling of the silver and gold fuming pop out now since I have used it.
Exquisite, detailed, and mysterious, it stands 24” and demands its own space. I gave it a home on my fireplace mantel, where its meticulous designs catch the light of the sun when it dances through the windowpanes during the day.
As previously mentioned, every year Redbeard holds an event in Birken, BC, ‘humbly’ named ‘The Great Canadian Glass Gathering’, the GCGG. This year marked the eighth annual gathering, and it has grown to be one of the coolest, most entertaining, Canadian cannabis “to do” things during the summer months. Families across the country pack their stuff and travel to Birken for this event, and every year the population increases as we build an outdoor event we have all come to love.
This is an event not only for the blowers to create great art on their own, but also an opportunity for them to make larger, intricate pieces as collaborations, aka collaborative efforts. Collectors really enjoy this event. I myself spent a small fortune there two summers ago, and have some beautiful unique pieces to show for it made by some cool glass designers.
2015 was amazing, with so many wonderful people, both familiar and new. On the property of Michael Milner — who literally lives off of his land by raising goats, planting vegetables and drinking glacier water — attendees camped out in style. GCGG goers were popping their tents, and emptying U-Haul trucks rented to bring their heady-gear up. I drove my packed car with a friend and a two day head start.
For this year I decided to barter my homemade infused chilli for glass. A nice thing about cannabis is that we can use it as a currency in our community, and who wouldn’t love infused chilli? So off I went to make some trades. I acquired four pieces this year, one being a fantastic collaboration between Gibson Glass and Clark Glassworks.
I would like to close by saying that I chose to highlight Redbeard in this month’s interview because he truly represents not only a handsome — and bearded — gifted glass artist but also personal values that I am eager to share with my readers. In all the fluff of life, I am reminded that you only get to where you are by working for it. Patrick is a prime example of this. I am proud to call him a friend, business sponsor, and someone who inspires me and others with everything he does. This week you can enjoy the highlights of Patrick “Redbeard” Vrolyk, and learn what real labour of passion is through his life story.