For the last few years, Rosburg Glass has spent countless hours behind the torch making his signature flame-grilled burger carp cabs. This year, Rosburg Glass celebrates its 20-year anniversary, having survived the ups and downs the industry has faced over that time period and earning distinction for its food-themed carb caps, which are quickly gaining more fans than ever.
Rosburg Glass founder Ryan Rosburg said his adventure started when he was the ripe old age of 15, using only makeshift resources, because he decided he enjoyed cannabis and knew the pipes weren’t just going to make themselves.
“I was making polymer clay pipe parts for a local headship in Colorado Springs, and then glass caught my eye,” Rosburg said.
He quickly realized the possibilities of his newfound medium and grabbed some torches from the basement.
“I just broke some beer bottles and kind of figured it out from there,” he said. “I started from scratch and am self-taught.”
Rosburg doesn’t claim his initial setup was proper, given that the brazing torches he was using were designed for copper work and not borosilicate glass. But, as he continued to teach himself, Rosburg upgraded his equipment and materials.
“About a year in, I got proper equipment and opened my business in 1998,” Rosburg said.
This timeline, of course, means that Rosburg experienced the industry’s worst days. In 2003, then-Attorney General John Ashcroft conducted Operation Pipe Dream, targeting marijuana glass makers. Ashcroft used a delivery scheme to net indictments for 27 individuals on charges of trafficking illegal drug paraphernalia. The glass community across the country was devastated.
“I was still in Colorado and it was nationwide, it was terrifying for everyone,” Rosburg said. “That was the worst thing that’s ever happened to us. I was selling really nice heady pieces to galleries and stores all over the place, then literally the next day that was not happening anymore. It changed overnight.”
Rosburg said he was lucky to sell any low-end production pieces at that time, as stores were worried they would get raided by the feds.
“It really was this widespread state of mind, where we were all just living in fear,” Rosburg said. “People wanted to make money, but were just so scared of getting busted when they were driving with their stuff.”
As the environment for glassmakers rebounded over the past decade, Rosburg began to explore sculpting objects, and found his creativity was re-energized when he was making glass cheeseburgers and tacos.
A long time ago, in The Land Before Dabs, the inspiration for Rosburg’s first burger originally came to him after a rotation.
“It was super small and way before dabs or anything, but it was carb cap-sized,” said Rosburg.
He thought it was super cool, but at the time, purposeless. Still, he became obsessed with the idea and just rolled with it. And then, somewhere down the line, the little glass burgers became functional.
“First, it was just the burger, then I knew I had to start making them into pipes,” Rosburg said. “And then one day someone was like, ‘Carb caps are really hot, you should make some.’”
Rosburg took a welcome break from some of his other designs and whipped a few up. He was surprised at the results when he took the initial batch to auction. Understandably, people really enjoyed his creations.
Two years ago, Rosburg relocated from Colorado to the glass mecca of Eugene, Oregon. Among his new inspirations is Joey Malaquias, who he’s worked with since he first got into town. Rosburg has been particularly impressed by the uncompromising creativity that Malaquias has shown in his body of work.
Now that Rosburg has settled in to Eugene and celebrating his 20th year anniversary as a glass artist, he’s spending most of his time pumping out carb cap burgers, just to keep up with demand.
Originally published in issue 30 of Cannabis Now. LEARN MORE
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