Justin McCall speaks in terms of energies. The owner of Funky Buddha Glass talks of the energy used to light his torch, to melt his glass and to transfer a sliver of zen into each creation.
"Our goal is to give people a positive experience through something we are able to make with our hands," he says. "It's something we can put our positive energy into."
McCall bought out Funky Buddha Glass in 2012 from Piece of Mind owner Justin Wilson. He and his young crew — Colton Day, Tom Law and Sam Arrants — have transformed the glass studio into a specialty product line and brand. McCall describes his crew as "musketeers," a family making oil rigs and bongs to pay the bills.
"Every glassblower who owns a torch wants to make art," he says. "That's all they want to do. ... We understand that in order to do that, we have to make what sells."
Funky Buddha Glass specializes in scientific glass and offers 15 pieces in its product line, including 14-milliliter beakers and banger hangers (a type of glass bong), their most popular pieces. The crew makes about 100 pieces each week by hand in a production-line assembly.
"One person makes mouthpieces, one person makes a bowl, and then we all come together and assemble it," he says.
The pieces are sold locally at Green Light, Satori and Royal's Cannabis, but will soon only be sold at Piece of Mind. Most of their orders are shipped to the East Coast and Midwest.
"We just couldn't survive strictly in town," McCall says. "It's too easy to get something cheap from China. That's the huge struggle right now."
Despite the struggle, McCall says Spokane's glassblowing community is vibrant and supportive. Although his business hasn't grown since the state legalized marijuana, it's helped to pull the underground community into the public eye.
"A common misconception is that we're not a community — that we're just degenerates blowing glass in our basement," he says. "That couldn't be further from true." ♦
Glassblowing demonstrations • Fri, July 10, noon-4 pm • Free • All-ages • Funky Buddha Glass • 12 W. Lacrosse • facebook.com/funkybuddhafirenation