Click here to read our blog article - Evolution: The Works of Salt Glass


Video Transcript


John:                Tell us who or what inspired you to become a glassblower.

Salt:                 As far as becoming a glassblower, it was part of my path of figuring out what I wanted to do with my life.    I knew I wanted to be an artist somehow or at least be creative as my career and I was just exploring different mediums, taking whatever classes I could, building up basic credit to plan to transfer, and then a friend that I went to high school with was like "Oh, you got to come check out my new job.   I'm making pipes for this guy" and I went by and watched for a couple of hours and it was pretty much like I have to try to do this, and I just jumped in head first, whenever I did get the chance, and I ended up finishing the Associates degree I was working on, but by then, I was making a little money and I just ran with it since then.   

John:                What are you doing now that you were not doing before?  Are you using any new techniques?

Salt:                 Yeah, I just have been pioneering some techniques recently, something that I call the Salt perk or the Gil perk.    It's sculpturally applied linear tunnel and it's just basically a way to make something bubble.    It's super functional, it allows for some stuff that wasn't really possible for me before to happen because the downstem is not prohibiting my ability to sculpt a piece, so I would have to show it to you.    I have this piece in my hand, I can show it if that works for you guys?  

                        I don't know if this is in the shot or not, this is a piece that The Cupboard has picked up, so the dome comes off, there's a little ...    This dick head is the dabber, so this the joint, and the downstem actually runs the link down the bottom of the piece here and is completely fused to the wall, it's part of the wall, so instead of it being the weakest point, it's actually one of the strongest points in the pipe and it allows me to direct the flow of smoke and water like however I want at the bottom.  Then that allows for… that direction is actually into the back wall and so the smoke can change directions but the water can't, so it pulls the water out of the air and you can get a more functional piece with a smaller chamber, but it also allows me to not be prohibited, aesthetically, as much.    I can incorporate the downstem into the design of the piece rather than having to design around the downstem.   

                        I'm really excited about that, and then I've taken that basic idea and applied it in a bunch of different ways now.    I have some stuff that it's very detailed so it'd be difficult to explain but it allows the smoke to be just directed and allows the apparatus to be in different areas, different locations on the pipe that were more difficult to pull off before, so I'm kind of running with that, and then I have various aesthetics and new colors that I'm using.    Continuing to move forward is part of my brand identity I guess, like the evolution of my style.    My pieces just started up small and maybe looking like something that would be in the water because it didn't have any particular appendages, and now they have arms and legs and they're more evolved.

John:                I know this is a tough question, but do you have a favorite piece and what piece would that be?

Salt:                 That's tough.    If we're talking about just in general pieces that I own, I own a Lord pipe that I actually bought last year that I really love.    It's just a really well designed pipe.    It has everything that is like the features of his style, it's like very square, looks like a little Indian or something.    That would be my favorite piece in my collection.    Favorite pieces I've worked on, top of the list would be this piece called "Last Transmutin" that I made with Robert Michelson and Snick.    It just represents a progression of surrealistic mash up style that speaks to me and it's very big piece, plus Robert is one of my favorites from way back and it was cool to get to work with him.    Does that answer your question?

John:                It does, and what would you say, if somebody asked you, what's the biggest perk to being glassblower?

Salt:                 Probably just the freedom to express yourself in the ...    The best perk is basically that I get to make what I love and then I get to connect with people.   Because of that, other people who love what I make, so to me, the pipe is a tool that is used to bring people together in all these different, more specifically, like if you're going to smoke, it's a social experience a lot of times.  But in these other ways, the pipe has also linked me to some of the people who are my closest friends, it allows me to express myself, and those connections are through what I make, usually, and I don't know.    To me, that's amazing.    The artwork's highest function is to make those connections with people I think.   

John:                The Cupboard wants to help you stay in touch with your fans using social media, where can we find you?

Salt:                 I'm at Salt@saltglass is my email.  I'm at Saltglass on Facebook and on Instagram, those are the main ones.  Can't keep track of more than that right now.    Just the communication,  giving me a chance to talk about what I do and then passing that on to people and just being ...    I see the shops that I deal with like The Cupboard as a partner, we're in this together, I make the work, and then they buy it and take it and put it in a nice environment so people can see it, and they then take the things that I tell them why I'm making what I'm making and transfer that over to the customer base, so we're in this together and I think that doing stuff like this, I couldn't ask for more.

John:                You have a long history of selling your gargoyles through The Cupboard, tell us a little bit about that lineage.

Salt:                 The gargoyle's actually a specifically a new design, that one.    I first linked up with The Cupboard at the first Galleria that we did and got to develop a relationship with Barry and really see his vision for it because I feel like what I remember was it was just about to take The Cupboard to this next level and incorporate these more artistic pieces.  So, here we were at this place where we were really trying to create that environment and show shops that this is the way things are heading and with this new direction, there's a new type of customer, and just creating that dialogue and now, together we're figuring out like each area is different, what are people interested in here.  I think that now if listening to what Barry's planning, I feel lucky to be involved with somebody that's that forward thinking and wanting to progress the medium as a whole.

John:                Tell us about a piece that currently is on and in the store.    Tell us about a piece and the one that we'd find in the store right now.

Salt:                 Honestly, I currently don't know exactly what you guys have left of my work.    Hopefully, not much because we haven't seen each other in a while, but this piece, I don't know if I'm too close here, this piece will be in the shop in a few days, I'm guessing, and there's actually quite a few others.   This is one of the first gargoyles, one of the first 5 gargoyles and it is actually designed, if you'll allow me to set this down first, it's actually designed to be a wearable too, so there's a lot of these pendant rigs that I've seen people making and in my opinion, they're a lot of times, like gaudy or they just look like, I don't know, a wearable felony, so I decided to make something that was a little more subtle  and kind of like a sugar glider almost, so I have this little design as a rig too and it has some of the new technology.   

                        This downstem is actually used into the back here and wraps around bubbles through the tail here.    It has lots of little detail, little purple ears and purple belly.   It's a cool piece, but this will be at The Cupboard very soon, as soon as I can get it shipped out.

John:                For the customer who buys this piece and actually takes it home and it becomes part of their life, what story would you like them to know? Tell us a little bit about what went into making them.   

Salt:                 Absolutely.    What I would like them to know, and this is something that is part of ...    There's a lot of themes that are a part of my work and it started off with me just telling myself the story of what are these pieces about and what are they doing in order to enrich the process of making them and make them more interesting and to make it interesting for myself too, but what it has become is these pieces have evolved and become what they are as a product of the environment that they grew up in, so the pipe was always not viewed as art to the community that I was participating in.    It was like you keep the art and pipe separate, and also the pipe was always considered pseudo-legal, so my pipes in that environment have grown up with these defense mechanisms.   They have eyes and teeth and claws and they are also camouflage, they don't look like pipes, and that is designed to protect themselves and protect the end user and also to fight back.   

                        I challenge the notion that this is not art.    I say that it is and I can back that up.    I have reasons why I think that there are plenty of ideas that the pipe, as a vessel, is predisposed to carry those ideas, and so I think that those are the types of things that I am putting into my work and the end user, I would want them to know that that's the kind of thought that I have that I'm putting into these pieces.    That's why the term gargoyle, even though I spelled it cleverly to try ...    Because I'm participating in this culture too, the idea of a gargoyle is to protect the building, to ward off bad stuff and so.  That's where I'm coming from.   I want to protect our community, protect the people, and at the same time, lift it up and shine a light on what's good about it, I guess.

John:                You consider yourself a perfectionist?

Salt:                 Not really.    No, I wouldn't say perfectionist.    I think that, if anything, the only thing that I would look at as something that I want to perfect is my overall contribution.  So, it's not about it being perfect in the moment every time, it's about always continuing to try to move forward and get better.  So, when I look at something that I made 5 years ago, a lot of times, I'm like "Wow.    That does not look good" because I have come so far since then.  So, being a perfectionist would be exhausting, and I try to perfect individual things but I also accept that when something happens to one of my pieces and it goes wrong, if I can, I fix it because it's like one of my children.  So, I'm not just going to give up on it if it has like a scar or something or even it's still damaged, it could still be given to somebody or it still has value.   

                        I'm not a perfectionist.    I am more of I guess a realist, I don't know.    Maybe I'm pessimist.    Who wants to call themselves a realist?  I don't know.    My compass is just that progression.    Myself, my work, to help the other people around me.    I try to lift up the other artists and that's why I participate in Galleria because it gives me a chance to make an environment that is conducive for this creativity and for reaching a little further, but if I was obsessed with it being perfect, then I would never get anything done.   

John:                We all know that glassblowing can be a little hazardous sometimes.    Have you ever suffered any injuries?

Salt:                 Yeah, I get cut and burned on the regular.    It's usually pretty minor, but just cleaning up your bench can be dangerous because there's sharp stuff or whatever.  But it comes with the territory and you get little things, what I call "Bacon grease burn," where you'll heat something up and a little piece of hot glass pops off and hits your hand and it burns enough to hurt pretty bad, like a bacon grease burn.    After 10 years, you start to get used to it.    You just get burned and you wipe it off or you get cut, you wipe it off.    The worst thing is when I hurt doing something else and then I can't work.   

John:                Have you ever traveled outside the US to work on your craft?

Salt:                 I have, actually.  I got to go to Japan one time and I taught a class and did an exhibition over there.  It was awesome.  Japanese artists are amazing.  I also have been to Amsterdam, the  Don Crain Gallery brought me over there, I did an exhibition with them and participated in ...    They have a Cannabis Cup over there too and they do a best glass so they submitted some work from us over there too and I was really fortunate to get to do that.   It seems like that's starting to open up too, that the rest of the world is paying attention to what we're doing now.   

John:                What was the most eye opening thing that you saw over there?

Salt:                 Probably the fact that so many countries legally are moving forward in terms of marijuana law.    It always will affect us directly, obviously, so I saw people from Spain, Germany, Denmark, other places like in South America, there was Japanese artists there, so I think how much the culture has spread is probably what is most exciting to me.

John:                Any words of wisdom for glassblowers?

Salt:                 Pay your fucking taxes.  Excuse my French.   

John:                Sounds like you have a story to that answer.

Salt:                 No, I just think that if we want to be legitimized and treated as equals, then we have to participate fully.   I think that they're not going to mess with us anymore probably judging by the way the laws are moving, but if they are going to mess with us, it's going to be because people don't pay their taxes.  It sucks.  I don't like doing it but nobody does and it is necessary to be legitimate.    Drive on the roads and everything, right?

John:                Tell us a little bit about this piece that we can find the The Cupboard.   

Salt:                 This is Crowl and he is one of the first "Gargoils", spelled OIL.  Again, also meant to like you can put a color on them and wear them if you so choose, but he's functional, his dome comes off right here, and it's cool.    A lot of my pieces are like this too.    He's meant to be like a pet.    You're going to interact so much with this type of thing, and that's one of the best things about pipe making too is that it's an art form that instead of hanging it on the wall and looking at it and talking about it every once in a while, there's this interaction.   

                        You touch it, you pass it around, you get a level of intimacy with the art that it's just not there with any other art form that I can really think of.  Maybe like a tattoo or something, but that unique quality lives itself to my design too because it has this little creature and he's got ...    I made some marini last year.    Marini is picture cane, so you make a design and it's solid, you pull it down and so that every time you cut, it has the same image, so this is one of the first marini that I ever made.    It's like a little guy with a mouth, and so I use that to make the face of this creature, and so I think it's cool because it's the first time I did that and I was all tickled about it or whatever and then he's his little opal and it's kind of hidden.    It's like the hidden gem of pipe making, a little subtle symbolism.

John:                For the lucky customer, who takes this home, tell us a little story about what you would like them to know.   

Salt:                 Just that this guy is meant to be interacted with.    It's like their little buddy and that he's designed so that he can be displayed out in public and you don't have to worry about people wondering like "Why is there a pipe out?" You do not even necessarily know it's a pipe.    He's compact, he won't make a mess, he's potty trained, I don't know.    How about just that I appreciate so much, your interest in my work, and I just want to keep it going.    High five.

John:                Thanks.    A great pleasure having you as part of the The Cupboard's Artist Insights.    Follow the whole series at