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A Tribute to Bob Snodgrass: OG Glass Artist and Pipe Maker

Natasha Winkler

by Natasha Winkler

July 30, 2020 05:38 pm ET Estimated Read Time: 3 Minutes
A Tribute to Bob Snodgrass: OG Glass Artist and Pipe Maker

Bob Snodgrass is well renowned in the glass blowing industry. Originally a  lampworker, Snodgrass is now known for his contributions to the art of glass. During the 1970s and ’80s, he began honing his techniques while following the Grateful Dead on tour. There is no doubt that Bob Snodgrass is the Godfather of artistic hard glass in this country and his techniques have changed the field of glass blowing forever.

Working with glass since 1971 in Ohio, it wasn’t until a decade later that glassblowing became his full-time occupation. Snodgrass and his family traveled the US until they came to Oregon in 1990. In previous interviews, Snodgrass discloses they stayed in Oregon because they decided they liked the weather, the people, and the atmosphere. His longtime presence in the area has created one of the greater concentrations of glass artists. Due to him and his students in Eugene, Oregon there is no comparable region of highly skilled glass artists. 

He’s Been Called the “Godfather of Glass” and The Godfather of the Bong Renaissance.”

The prestigious Emerald Cup created an annual award in his honor called the Godfather of Glass. Of all the renowned glass artists, Snodgrass is held in the highest esteem both in the field and out. One of the methods that created the Snodgrass Family Glass movement was the result of an experiment, which according to the family website, is now a technique he refers to as “Scientific Glassmaking.” This technique and many others were pioneered by him.

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Snodgrass Invented Many of the Foundational Techniques of Pipe Making

Through years of determined experimentation, Snodgrass created through his experience a series of groundbreaking techniques that set his work apart from everything that preceded it, most notably fuming. When he first started working with glass he was not satisfied with the results so he continued experimenting. Snodgrass discovered that metals sprayed into hard glass would change colors when the back was blackened.

He also invented the popular sidecar style pipe after spending the night on a friend’s waterbed and finding it impossible to set down his standard pipe on the unsteady surface. Snodgrass is seen as the father of borosilicate, aka ‘hard glass’ pipes and smokeware. The basic ‘spoon’ shaped glass smoking pipe you see everywhere for its simplicity came from his experiments. The use of meticulously crafted marbles also came from him. In addition, many of the modern glass blowing tools owe their existence to him.

The work that has been inspired by Snodgrass is some of the most exclusive and expensive cannabis glass art in existence. Because of Snodgrass’s inventive spirit spreading, the Northwest does not have an exclusive claim on the current high-end glass market. In fact, Philadelphia, Denver, and Southern California have very active prestigious markets.

Today, Bob Snodgrass and his family carry on the tradition that he cultivated from a love of cannabis and his incredible skills in glass art creation. Currently, at least five of his family members are official glass artist apprentices and regularly teach hands-on instruction. Generations of glassblowers yet to come owe their six-figure pipe sales to this man, Godfather of so many things glass!

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