Pubdate: Sun, 12 Oct 2014
Source: Herald, The (Everett, WA)
Copyright: 2014 The Daily Herald Co.
Author: Andrea Brown, Herald Writer
Page: D1


Glass Bong Maker Doesn't Have to Disguise the Purpose of His 
Functional Art Anymore

For Jared Betty, the glass pipe has gone from being half empty to half full.

Recreational pot in Washington has been a boon for the glass artist 
specializing in pipes.

"The terminology before the legalization was you couldn't say 
'bong,'" said Betty, 38, owner of J-Red Glass.

"All my pipes had to be labeled 'For Tobacco Use Only.' And I could 
only sell under the tobacco use only category or I faced criminal 
charges for selling marijuana paraphernalia. Now I can say it because 
that is what it's for anyway."

His clear glass pipes with colorful swirls and patterns are primarily 
sold wholesale to stores and at cannabis trade shows. Prices average 
$200 to $500 for basic pipes, the bread-and-butter of his product 
line. The elaborate "art pipes" go for $2,500 and up.

"The cheaper stuff always moves," Betty said. "A lot of people just 
want to have a nice pipe. A nice bubbler. They just want to use it, 
they don't want an art piece. Functionality is key. It's more about 
the function and how cool it looks while it's working."

The pipes are a fusion of art and science.

"The glass out there in beer bottles and stuff is a lot weaker," 
Betty said. "This is a scientific quality glass. Originally it was 
used for apparatuses for scientists. They would make their beakers 
and test tubes and all sorts of stuff. Originally chemists had to 
have the skill set to make their own equipment."

His studio is an old red barn in Arlington. It is there that he heats 
glass into a molten state to make objects of beauty and purpose.

"I take multiple colors and layer them. Chihuly does it way 
different," he said.

Betty is among the 25 glass artists from around the world 
participating in Seattle's PipeMaster Collab, a 10-day event starting 
Wednesday. Many glass demonstrations are open to the public at Boro 
School & 7 Points Studio, 1300 S. Dearborn St., Seattle.

He recently competed in the Boro Derby, a Seattle charity event where 
glass artists make a derby car out of glass, then race the cars down 
a pinewood derby track.

Glasswork has been a challenging course for Betty, an Everett native 
who lives in Mukilteo with his wife, Gabrielle, and their toddler son, Sylas.

For years he was part of the underground pipe movement toiling in 
garages making this glasswork.

"Seventeen years ago when I started doing this it was looked at as a 
renegade job or taboo job to have. You wouldn't get any recognition 
for making pipes," Betty said.

"I did it because I'm an artist and I liked the media and playing 
with it. And it paid for my snowboard habit. I was an aspiring 
professional snowboarder at the time and I competed for 10 years. I 
didn't make much money at first, but I was snowboarding so it didn't 
matter. I got better at glassworking and it kind of surpassed my 
snowboarding and I realized I was never going to get paid for 
snowboarding on that level, but glass was profitable, so I kept 
pushing and pushing. Now I'm doing all sorts of crazy artwork and sculpture."

It's supply-and-demand economics. "I can't sell a vase. Nobody wants 
to buy it," he said. "I can sell a pipe. I can sell as many pipes as I make."

The pipes take from 20 minutes to more than 40 hours to make.

James Sheran of Arlington is his apprentice of four years.

"It's a very competitive business," said Sheran, 38. "I was a welder. 
I like working with my hands. I kind of fell in love with this."

Paul Darrow of Marysville volunteers at the studio to learn the craft.

"I call myself a molecular fusion detection specialist," said Darrow, 
31. "It's like a box of chocolates. You never know what you're going to get."

Betty's wife has less explaining these days when asked about her 
husband's profession as a glass artist.

"When people ask, 'Where can we find his work,' you are always kind 
of apprehensive," she said. "I say, 'Well, you know, where we can 
make our money right now is in pipemaking.' I try to go into the 
background of how it has become more of an art and how people like to 
display something in their house that doesn't necessarily look like a 
pipe or a bong. Something they can put it on the mantle and it looks 
like artwork."

As for Betty's mother, well, she's coming around.

"My mom has gained a lot more appreciation for it," he said. "She 
doesn't like that I make pipes, but she deals with it. I make her 
lots of cool gifts. Like vases and trinkets."
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MAP posted-by: Jay Bergstrom