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Can’t Go Wrong With A Glass Bong

Kind Creations Embraces Local Artists and Beautiful In-Store Blown Glass
Emily Januszewski
Two unique pieces of art by artist Perry (Skye) Norton complement each other March 24.
An In-Depth Perspective into Kind Creations, based out of Fort Collins, CO.

When entering Kind Creations Smoke Shop, you’re immediately greeted by an inviting environment and an array of glass cases lining the wall, full of stylish, artistic bongs and glass-blown art. Opened in 2001 by current owner Brandon Fike, Kind Creations is Fort Collins’ oldest smoke shop and has never left its original location on 828 S College Ave.


The shop is full of enthusiastic employees, ready to assist with any smoke-related needs, including five onsite glassblowers. These artists do their work right in the back of the store, allowing customers to watch the artistic process. Along with the glass blowers, several artists from all over sell their bongs and pipes at Kind Creations.


Jeremy Hartpence, an employee at Kind Creations came into his job as a cashier, knowing nothing about glass blowing but has come to appreciate the artwork over the years as he has been able to get a closer look at the creation of each piece sold. 


“Working here I have learned a thousand different things about everything here,” Hartpence said. 


Hartpence describes the environment of the store as relaxing but never without excitement. Whether joking with his coworkers or conversing with customers, there is always a welcoming space right when you walk in the door. 


Skye Perry Norton: A Quick Hit of Rebellion


Glassblowing artist Perry (Skye) Norton smiles while holding up one of his creations outside of the Kind Creation Smoke Shop in Fort Collins March 24.
Glassblowing artist Perry (Skye) Norton smiles while holding up one of his creations outside of the Kind Creation Smoke Shop in Fort Collins March 24. (Emily Januszewski)

The back of the shop houses the glass-blowing studio where Skye Perry and fellow glass-blowers perform their art. Perry was introduced to glass blowing during a third-grade field trip, afterward, he was immediately hooked. 


Perry has been selling his glass bongs to Kind Creations since 2001 and began working on-site in 2014. He’s mostly self-taught, taking a couple of classes and workshops from other local glassblowers. 


His work consists of mostly bongs that have been sold at the shop, but he expressed that he also enjoys blowing goblets, bowls, and various other forms of glass. Perry picked up working with bongs in the 1990s when cannabis became largely stigmatized. 


“When I started blowing glass there was a big taboo with glass bongs and cannabis in general,” Perry said. “There was a little bit of rebellion there, I think, with getting into making pipes. People said you’re not supposed to do this so I’m going to do it anyway,”


Perry is an artist who uses glass as his medium He enjoys creating themed pieces but is especially proud of a smaller bong that is heavily inspired by the psychedelic rock band ‘Grateful Dead’. 


Rows of small glass artifacts lay in a display cabinet March 24. (Emily Januszewski)

He uses techniques of double-layered line work with incorporations of what Perry calls  ‘wig wags’. The outside of the bong has only a bit of color but is mostly clear. Both interior and exterior were specially crafted for this piece and he ‘double-sleeved’ it to add a unique element of design. 


Perry described ‘double sleeving’ as placing both the outer layer of glass with the inner layer. It creates a multi-dimensional look while establishing a sturdy piece.


“I really like the way that it looks, it magnifies what’s in the background and it adds design that you can’t add otherwise,” Perry said. 


Etched on the side of the bong is the head of the infamous Grateful Dead bear. To transfer that photo onto the piece he used layers of metal that were stuck onto a sheet of glass with 10,000 volts of electricity to laser etch the image onto the bong. 


“The art of fire and playing with fire and being able to manipulate something that’s both a solid and a liquid is really interesting,” Perry said. 


As best said by Perry, the creation of smokeware is based on artists and their passion for the art behind the cannabis and smoke industry. 


Bryan Ratcliffe Speaks About His Shift in Specialty Glassware  


Bryan Ratcliffe shapes a new piece inspired by mountains and snowboarding Nov. 2, 2021.
Bryan Ratcliffe shapes a new piece inspired by mountains and snowboarding Nov. 2, 2021. Ratcliff’s favorite part of glass blowing is, “how immediate it is, how you can imbed things with it right away.” (Milo Gladstein)

Bryan Ratcliffe, a close friend of Perry similarly performs the art of glass blowing but over the years, his specialty has shifted. Ratcliffe originally began blowing glass in 1998 during his sophomore year of college. Over the years, he has learned from local glass blowers and used his skills to create an online presence where he can display his work and sell pieces to consumers. 


Ratcliffe began making pipes when he was younger and eventually moved into smaller pieces specifically for bongs and glass pipes. Now, he is using his knowledge of smokeware to create cups heavily inspired by bongs and pipes. 


“Now I make a lot of drinkware that is in the theme of bangers or pull slides for bongs.” “That’s been the direction I’ve been going in the last 4 or 5 years,” Ratcliffe said. 


He uses his social media to create a presence online to sell and speak with consumers whilst working out of a local Fort Collins studio as well as his home.

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