I caught up with local glass blower Mongo, who is not only blowing glass for Orion Glass, but has just launched a line of Medi-kal Glass water pipes. Mongo sent one of them over for me to review and itâ€™s my new favorite piece! Itâ€™s thick 9mm glass with a heavy bubble and glass-on-glass fittings. This thing is SICK! Iâ€™ve had a grip of bongs in my day and this one stands out with amazing quality and functionality. I had to take some space and let him introduce himself to the NUG readers.
NUG: Mongo, tell us how you got started in the Glassblowing arena?
MONGO: In 1996, I met a glass blower who gave me a few ideas of how to set up a shop and get going. The first few years I was self taught, and once I thought I had enough of the basic skills down, I decided to take a trip to Eugene, Oregon, the epicenter and birthplace of the color changing glass industry. Naturally, I wanted to meet the man who not only started the glass culture that exists now, but helped turn a group of pot smokers into glass art enthusiasts and appreciators of fine art.
NUG: Who was that?
MONGO: Bob Snodgrass was the glass pioneer, the yoda of the glass world, the first Jedi who would go on to apprentice others with his craft. All pipe makers at the time could eventually trace their roots and their teacherâ€™s roots to Bob.
NUG: Has that fact changed? How did you meet Bob?
MONGO: I think after 2000 there were so many glass blowers that the lineage didnâ€™t continue like it did before. After meeting Jason Harris, then the owner of Jerome Baker at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam, I looked him up when I got to Eugene. Jason is one of the coolest, most down to earth dudes; he really had a huge positive influence on my glass career, exposing me to soft glass and many things glass. He showed me around his glass factory and even let me watch for a few days. He also gave me Bobâ€™s number. After speaking with Bob, I headed over to his house and got to check out his shop in an old Air Force flight simulator. After some talking, I convinced Bob to do short classes on the weekends; up to that point, apprentices spent a year with the person learning, doing whatever is asked of them. I spent quite a bit of time there with him and came back for a weekend of classes. My skills would be forever changed for the better after hanging out in Eugene so much and taking the Snodgrass class. In the late 90s, I took neon at the Eugene Glass School and spent a few weeks working on my glass skills with some professional artists from around the country and a few from Germany.
NUG: I heard you also took glass blowing classes locally, can you tell us about those?
MONGO: From 2003 to 2005, I took 5 semesters of Glassblowing at Palomar College in San Marcos, California. This type of glass was soft glass and done at a furnace with a huge blow tube. My torch work is with borosilicate glass and known as â€œlamp workingâ€. I thrived for text book glass knowledge and performed well in an academic atmosphere. My lampworking technical skills improved immensely as a result of years of learning how to work this new glass. This new style allowed me many artistic freedoms not present in pyrex. With the larger forms, soft glass staying hotter longer allowed me to make huge bowls, vases, and these fish, one of which is a 3-eyed devil horned fish that sits at my buddyâ€™s house, Eric Wilson, the bass player from Sublime. Not only did I blow glass, but I worked for a band called Long Beach Shortbus, performing many duties and eventually managed them until they decided to take an extended break after years of exhaustive touring in 2007. Shortbus was made up of members from Long Beach Dub All Stars after they broke up. LBDAS started in the wake of Sublimeâ€™s abrupt halt. Eric has had my glass for years now. I always laugh whenever he knocks a piece over because it doesnâ€™t break; it just spills all over his floor. I worked for Sublime with Rome for a little while until I had a kid and decided to stay home full-time to focus on my family and glass. Rome seems happy with my monster 9mm thick walled tubes.
NUG: Nice, we actually interviewed Rome for this issue also! I would have totally asked him about his piece if I would have known! Small world! Tell us how the Medi-Kal line came to be.
MONGO: I felt that my glass could help medical patients, so I created this â€œFor Medical Useâ€ line of glass products, and thatâ€™s when Medi-kal was born. We all know a vaporizer is the healthiest way to medicate, but most of us still use the glass water pipe. What the water pipe allows the user to do is cool the smoke that otherwise would cause major damage to human tissue. The tip of a joint is on the inside around 1100Â°F, and on the outside itâ€™s around 700Â°F! This is all about 2 inches from your 98.6Â° body. When you decide to use a water pipe, the water cools the smoke to a temperature that is considerably less harmful to your body. The water pipe increases the distance between where you light the marijuana and your body. The increase in distance also allows for a reduction in temperature depending on the length of the water pipe and amount of water you put in. Rounder diffusers also allow more smoke bubble surface area to get cooled by breaking a large bubble up into smaller bubbles.
NUG: How can patients get your Medi-Kal glass?
MONGO: People interested would have to contact me through my website. Since I only sell Medi-kal glass in or at clinics, or to medical marijuana patients, the â€œFor Medical Useâ€ label under the green cross informs all those who might be concerned â€“ the medical intent of the person using the water pipe. I also make matching glass-on-glass jars that let people know, who might find your meds, what your intent is. I canâ€™t sell Medi-kal products in head shops due to the tobacco laws. Even if marijuana was legalized, the head shops would still have to fly under the tobacco banner. Our puritan, archaic society really blows my mind sometimes. Now, Iâ€™m making glass for medical patients. I can also repair your broken glass; you can bring your CLEAN broken glass-on-glass fitting to a drop off place in Oceanside listed on my website www.theglassdude.com, and for $50, Iâ€™ll fix it so it never breaks again!
NUG: Thanks for your time MONGO! Anything else you want to let our readers know?
MONGO: Iâ€™m one of the only people I know who doesnâ€™t use a lathe. I make all my water tubes on rollers, so I make everything by hand. Follow me on twitter.com/orionglassworks to see when and where Iâ€™ll be (at a clinic) with glass on me, doing my 4:20 Fryday FREE glass giveaway.