The art of glassblowing has a long and fascinating history in Orillia, Ontario.
Glassblowing is the art of creating glass objects by blowing air through a pipe into molten glass, shaping it into various forms, and then cooling it down to solidify the shape. This art form has created multiple objects, including vases, bowls, and intricate sculptures. In Orillia, however, glassblowing has also been used to develop bongs and specialized water pipes for smoking cannabis.
Early History of Glassblowing in Orillia
The history of glassblowing in Orillia dates back to the mid-19th century when the first glass factories were established. These factories produced a wide range of glass products, including bottles, jars, and window panes. In the early 20th century, glassblowing became more specialized, with artisans focusing on creating decorative glass objects, such as vases and bowls. However, it wasn't until the 1960s and 1970s that glassblowing in Orillia began to take on a new dimension. The emergence of Bongs in Orillia In the 1960s and 1970s, cannabis became more widespread in North America, including in Orillia.
As cannabis use became more prevalent, there was a growing demand for specialized smoking devices, including bongs. Bongs are water pipes used for smoking cannabis. The smoke from the cannabis is filtered through water, which cools and purifies it before it is inhaled. Bongs come in various shapes and sizes, with some featuring intricate designs and patterns. In Orillia, glassblowers began experimenting with creating bongs, using their skills to create unique and functional smoking devices. These bongs quickly became popular with cannabis users in the area, and their demand grew.
Glassblowing Techniques Used in Orillia
Creating a bong requires unique skills and techniques. The glassblower must work quickly and carefully to shape the glass into the desired form while also ensuring that it is structurally sound and capable of withstanding high temperatures. One of the most common techniques used in creating bongs is the "inside out" method. In this technique, the glassblower first creates a transparent tube, which is then filled with coloured glass. The coloured layer is then carefully melted and shaped, creating intricate designs and patterns within the mirror. Another common technique used in creating bongs is the "fuming" method. In this technique, the glassblower adds small amounts of precious metals, such as gold or silver, to the molten glass. When the glass is heated, the metals oxidize, creating a beautiful range of colours and patterns within the mirror. These and other glassblowing techniques have allowed Orillia glassblowers to develop a wide range of unique and beautiful bongs, each with its distinct style and personality.
Legalization of Cannabis in Canada
In 2018, the Canadian government legalized recreational cannabis, opening up new opportunities for the cannabis industry in Orillia and across the country. With the legalization of cannabis, the demand for bongs and other smoking devices has only grown, with many cannabis users in Orillia and beyond seeking out high-quality, handcrafted bongs. In addition to creating bongs, Orillia glassblowers have continued creating various other glass objects, including vases, bowls, and sculptures. Many artisans have gained a reputation for their skill and creativity, with collectors and art lovers seeking their work.