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PHOTO ATTRIBUTION: Encalmo Windowpane Set, photo credit to Wind Home – Gun and Retticello, photo credit to AReySocal – All other photos by Ariel Schulze – All pieces by Hamm Vitrifex. The 3 photos with mushroom, fern and tree sandblasted imagery are a collaboration Hamm x Ariel

Hamm – Eugene, Oregon

The common recycler wasn’t always so common. Like every type of pipe, it had to be invented, and the glass artist that earns credit for that goes by simply the name of Hamm.

“I was trying to make this sculptural piece of kind that had a story theme and needed a couple of characters that needed to be distracted by something ‘bong powered’ that I could build into the piece,” says Hamm, who’s early childhood fascination with glass marbles and bottles, led him to start blowing glass and creating functional pieces more than 20 years ago. “My thought was ‘old school coffee pot percolator’, so I figured out how to make water splash into a bowl. Then I had to figure out a way to get all of that water out of the air stream — it turned out I made the best drip catch ever that even when it caught too much water it was able to cycle back into the system.”

It worked flawlessly. Instead of the water staying in the base, or just bubbling through a percolator, in a recycler, it travels from the base into a second chamber near the mouthpiece. As the vapor releases from the water, the water falls back down into the base to be “recycled” for the next hit.

Hamm originally dubbed his creation the “Hurricane Perc.” Some smoke shops sold them as “Hamm Scientific,” and from somewhere in the recesses of the internet, glass fans started referring to them as “Recyclers.”

As they say, if only he had a nickel for every one that’s ever been made (or knocked off). Same goes for another of his inventions, the G-Bubb — a bubbling gravity bong. So innovative was this diffuser that it won the silver medal at the Cannabis Cup in Amsterdam completely on the merit of write-in votes.

In the last few years, Hamm has turned his creative brain to reimagining basic forms and shapes, like cubes, spheres, cones and triangles, as clear glass water pipes. He’s also reinvented the standard spoon and bong by turning them outside-in.

It’s no wonder, Hamm, who learned to make pipes by melting test tubes with a welding torch, is often tagged as a mad scientist. He’s also legendary for making an eleven-foot tall glass rocking chair — claimed to be the largest piece of lamp-worked glass in history, and then shattering it into a million shards by driving his suburban through it at 69 miles per hour. He recently completed a massive clear glass dining table, the creation of which required construction of a giant homemade kiln and a five-foot long torch with 31 jets that drinks a gallon of propane per minute and throws out a ten-foot flame.

“Life as a glass blower has given me reason to stick my feet in a lot of other trades like welding and carpentry,” Hamm says. “I came into this industry as a novice kid with no real skills, but I love to make and invent shit.”

Since the very early days, when Hamm was focused on small sculptural hand pipes and bubblers, he’s covered a lot of territory in pipeland, pioneering a number of the techniques have become fundamental to the craft; styles like ribbon builds, chip stacks and back stacks. A lot of the skills and methods Hamm has learned or developed, he gladly shares with others eager to learn the how and whys of blowing glass.

“I want this world to be full of beautiful glass,” he says. “It feels good to be able to facilitate that by passing down some tricks and some knowledge to people and helping to bring the community closer together.”

Hamm – Eugene, Oregon

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