Behind the Scenes: A look at glass blowing
Jason Turturici, owner of Smoking Jay's Degenerate Art Studio in Medford, began his glassblowing journey in 1997. While he is now flourishing in southern Oregon, he says he found the glass scene to be unwelcoming in the 90s. "Until very recently, all pipe makers were shunned," he says.
Turturici explains that glassblowers were unsociable: "None of those people wanted anything to do with us because we made 'paraphernalia.'"
Turturici says that pipe makers had to build their own community to learn and share techniques because the glass blowers weren't willing to teach them anything. "I think it was mostly fear," he says. "They were thinking we were doing something illegal." Turturici says people are finally recognizing pipe makers as craftsmen and "not just some stoner on the corner."
"All the smoke shops were pretty into weed and smoking and counterculture," he says.
Turturici explains that smoke shops were different before the legalization of cannabis, but now, because of cheap imports and large companies entering their market, glass artists are often undercut. "It's always been little shops. Somebody in their garage with their buddy or their wife," he says.
With the new influx of legal cannabis stores opening, Turturici says they aren't focused on the high quality glass. "They don't know as much about it, so they're selling a lot of low-end, cheap imports," Turturici says.
He says the smokeshops who know about higher-end glass and quality aren't able to sell more expensive products because, "everyone's buying a 10 to 20 dollar pipe at the dispensary."
"I'd imagine in all types of art forms, people don't want to make the cheapest thing," Turturici says. "We all want to grow and advance."