Pipe dreams: Cannabis artisans crafting novel accessories
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Cannabis artisans

Pipe dreams: Cannabis artisans crafting novel accessories

Words— Odessa Paloma Parker

As cannabis legalization continues to be championed and acted into law across North America, a batch of ceramic artists are using their craft to fashion novel accessories to suit every style. Here are five names that show the aesthetically pleasing points of going to pot.

 

 

 

 

 

Wandering Bud

 

 

Based in Kansas City, Riley Brain’s brand is known for charming tabletop pieces accented with gold. Brain began her artisanal journey after taking trips to Portugal and Oregon a few years ago. “In the summer of 2016, I took two influential trips,” she says. “In Lisbon, I grew so enamoured with the intricate mosaics and tile work around the city. Everywhere you look is so beautiful. I already loved creating art as a hobby, so I felt drawn to giving ceramics a try. The next month, I spent about a week in Portland. Oregon had fully legalized relatively recently, and it was the first state I had ever been to with completely legal cannabis. I fell in love with the vibe and openness of Portland. There were dispensaries, yoga studios, and vegan food everywhere. All my faves. I wanted to help bring a little slice of that culture to my home state of Missouri.”

 

Brain began experimenting and started to hone in on her aesthetic – one that marries simplicity with personality. “It’s been such an evolution,” she says about her work. “Since I am self-taught, I feel like I’ve grown my pieces around whatever class I’m taking or technique I’m working on at the time.”

 

In addition to watching her business flourish, Brain is starting to see hope for legalized cannabis grow around her. “Missouri just voted for medicinal legalization in November. Legal cannabis passed by the widest margin of anything else on the ballot. It made me so proud of my state! Growing up in Missouri and Kansas, I can say that feeling proud (politically) of my state doesn’t happen often. So I’m savouring that.”

 

 

 

 

 

High Noon

 

 

“When I was younger, I hadn’t really been ‘into weed’, as they say,” notes Leah Lavergne, Toronto-based founder of the cannabis accessory brand High Noon. “After some experimentation with the plant, there was no denying the countless benefits of such an incredible medicine – I just needed a way to make it my own. This is how my baby of a company was born.”

 

Lavergne’s pieces are designed for and named after ideal times for a puff (pot’s not just for 4:20, after all). “It came very naturally,” she says of the process for creating the understated shapes of her pipes. “When sitting down to think about what I wanted in a piece, functionality and aesthetics were two principles that were hard to ignore. On top of that, weed has always been one of my favourite things to share, and the only thing missing for me was a piece that I could happily share, too.”

 

Now, High Noon’s designs are being embraced by both those in the cannabis community and partakers alike, and the momentum is driving her business forward. “I love seeing entrepreneurs in the space not only bringing brands together but, also creating more room for others to feel comfortable in it,” she says. “Seeing much more inclusivity in what had already existed is very important and inspiring, [but] with regards to legalization, I’m still trying to work out whether it has been a positive change in my life. Although it’s a great start to acceptance and shedding shame, we’ve got a ton of work to do.”

 

 

 

 

 

Miwak Junior

 

 

Alice Johnson and Sebastian Boher are the duo behind Echo Park, California-based Miwak Junior, a line of pipes that resemble sleek stones that you’d perhaps skip across a still pond (the brand also sells similarly slick sculptures). Sebastian, a ceramicist and “long-time cannabis enthusiast” remembers “sneaking a forbidden pipe” into a kiln at the Glendale City College where he was studying, noting that “the design was so discreet they didn’t notice it was a pipe, which they didn’t permit.” 

 

Since the fledgling, contraband college experiment, the Miwak Junior brand has thrived, with Sebastian designing and crafting the wares while Alice manages the business side. “I'm pleased with myself for finding a professional use for my enthusiasm, and grateful to have landed here in the cannabis space,” she says. “This is my personal connection to what we do. I'm not the ceramicist. I'm the smoker, the hanger outer. I'm your host, and I'm happy you're here.”

 

Speaking of hosting, Alice divulges that she’s most excited about the potential for consumption lounges in the rec legal cannabis landscape. “I want us to make a whole lounge with all Miwak art and designed objects, to create a full sensory smoking experience,” she says. While increasingly relaxed attitudes towards cannabis are a boon for Miwak’s business, Sebastian highlights how important legalization is for personal use experience as well. “I’m looking forward to the possibility of having more accurate studies of the cannabis plant’s effects, and possible use in medical treatment,” he says. “We still don’t know much about this plant since studies weren’t – and still [largely] aren’t – allowed.”

 

 

 

 

 

Laundry Day

 

 

“The concept of Laundry Day was conceived from my own personal experience with cannabis,” says Victoria Ashley, the British Columbia-based founder of the emerging ‘smokeware’ line. After using pot to treat pain and act as a sleep aid, Ashley was resolved in the idea that the plant should be a bigger part of her life. “I decided that it was time for me to take ownership of this ritual, stop using my boyfriend's pipe from high school, and invest in something that I was going to be using every day. I headed to a local smoke shop to purchase my piece and after walking through those doors I left feeling unwelcome, embarrassed and defeated. I had just spent money on something I was ashamed of and already wanted to hide under my bed.”

 

Laundry Day’s array of pipes and ashtrays redefine the concept of glass cannabis accessories, and Ashley notes that the momentum behind legalization is helping to push many aspects of the industry forward as well. In addition to new publications and brands cropping up, she’s intrigued by an emergence of “conversations based in research and personal experience [that] are being shared by experienced writers and industry workers like Mennlay Golokeh Aggrey Lida.” 

 

She also highlights that these steps forward must spur us all on to recognize and right what prohibition has caused in the past. “It is super important to celebrate the victories and advancements, but even more important to recognize that we still have a long way to go in terms of cannabis equity and social justice,” Ashley says. “Companies that are benefiting from an industry which has previously and currently negatively impacted communities, specifically Black, Hispanic and Indigenous communities, have a responsibility to give back and aid those who are working toward providing fairness in opportunities in the space.”

 

 

 

 

 

Stonedware

 

Ariel Zimman launched her line of angular smoking accessories in 2015 after realizing the pipe she used wasn’t appealing to her. “As a maker and a cannabis consumer, the idea came to me when I was in the process of putting away my rainbow glass spoon pipe that I just didn't want to look at on my coffee table.”

 

Stonedware’s offerings include geode-style shapes done in bright hues, and some even feature lush floral images that are pure works of art. “Once I set out to create a ceramic pipe, I realized that there was no need for it to be the standard ‘spoon’ pipe,” Zimman says. “After all, this shape is so frequently used due to the process of glass-blowing, but I'm a ceramicist, [so] the same rules and operations do not apply.

 

Zimman recently created custom pipes for the ‘In Bloom’ event held by Broccoli magazine in Portland, and supporting platforms like the female-founded pot-focused publication is one of the aspects of legalization that she’s most excited by. In addition to all adults obtaining safe and legal access to the plant, I'm really inspired by the number of women taking charge of the space, creating products and businesses with forward-thinking ideas of community, design and industry as a whole.” 

 

Read more on Odessa Paloma Parker's cannabis articles, Cannabis consumption's tech update , Redefining the cannabis user , Cannabis in Canada: A history and How Canada is blazing a legalized trail

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