LANSING, Mich. — When it comes to glass blowing art, Ben Birney is a pro. What makes him different from other glass blowing artists - is his drive to create products that spark his passion. That’s how he started making bongs almost two decades ago.
“What we do is very diverse, but over the years I follow my passion,” he said. “So, if I find something new that I’m passionate about, I may just follow that path."
Birney has made all kinds of things ranging from jewelry to decorations, but one particular product has stood out to him.
“There’s a historical context of a bong being a demonized word that was used against us in an aggressive way,” Birney said. “So, that’s a little context of a bong being something that was demonized in our history, but we’re now coming out of that.”
Birney and his team of four make the bongs and other things in his north Lansing studio, Global Glassworks.
The bongs come in all shapes, sizes, and colors, and some of them aren't cheap.
“We specialize in pieces that range from $200 to $2,000,” Birney said.
But he says sales have been good, especially since Michigan legalized marijuana.
“It didn’t exactly skyrocket, but there has been a slow and steady increase in sales,” he said. “So as more and more people get into making the glass, there’s been an increase in demand that allows a steady solid growth within our industry that provides more opportunities.”