After struggling with internal components and experimenting with different forms for way too long, I decided to make some drastic changes in my approach to making bongs. As mentioned in my last post, the first and biggest change was the cessation of hand building problem pieces, such as the bowl and down-stem. These components were to be replaced by premade glass components. By making this switch, I saved myself a lot of headaches in the production of each bong, and it also made them more user friendly. This made things easier for me, because I no longer had to deal with the down-stem (which was prone to cracking) or the sizing of the bowl (it is easier to size clay to glass rather than clay to clay, as clay shrinks at semi-predictable rates). The bongs became more user friendly due to the glass down-stem being removable (easier cleaning) and the standardized sizing of the bowl (easier to replace if lost or broken). These changes to the mechanics of my pieces also led to changes in the design process. Since I had finally figured out the internals of my pipes, I finally felt comfortable moving towards regular production. It was at this point that I started working in series, my first being the Shatter series, of which all these pieces are a part.
An 8-bong series, Shatter is largely inspired by Kintsugi; a Japanese approach to ceramic repair, that utilizes lacquer, gold, and other precious metals, to reform broken pieces. The idea being that there is beauty in the cracks and that they should be highlighted rather than hidden. The main difference from this series to actual Kintsugi is that the cracks in my pieces are simulated and “filled” with gold luster rather than gold lacquer. This, and the form of the pieces, were the only constraints that I had made for myself when conceptualizing this group of pipes. The surface designs were left open for me to explore different ideas. That is why the pieces vary so much in decoration, and why a majority of the series is just finished with different, solid colors. Having put so much effort into the mechanics of the pieces, up to this point, I was just starting to actually think about how I want to design the most visible part of my pieces.