The Legend of Colour-Changing Glass Pipes

H, The Grateful Dead, a leap of faith… and the rest was history.

If you are an adult person who is alive, you know that colour-changing glass pipes are as ubiquitous as the classic joint. Maybe you didn’t know what they were called or haven’t tried one yourself, but you’ve surely seen them on coffee tables, on the shelves of head shops and corner stores, or even tucked away in Dad’s bedside table stash (Oh, THAT’s what that was).

You know the ones… smooth and swirly, sort of like the glass pipe version of a tie-dyed T-shirt. Does any other kind of pipe exist? Well yeah, but we would argue that no other pipe is nearly as famous.

Maybe you’ve even heard the story of our great founder, Howard Franklin (we call him ‘H’), and how he launched the world’s first brand of colour-changing glass pipes. In fact, many fond memories of colour-changing pipes are connected to H’s Red Eye Glass® brand because he was the first one to make them available to cannabis lovers on a mass scale.

The Origins of Colour-Changing Glass

Legend has it that a glass blower discovered how to make colour-changing glass pipes by accident back in the ‘80s when he coated a glass pipe in silver and gold fumes. At first, the layers of metal looked translucent, but as the cannabis resin built up inside the pipe with each use, a dark layer formed under the metal that brought the colours in the metal to life. Glass-blowing artists soon realized that they could add different layers of silver and gold between the glass to create even more captivating swirls of colour as the resin built up inside.

The best thing that they discovered about the pipes was that you could experience the colour-changing fun over and over again with the same pipe. This is because the pipes don’t actually change colour—the colourful effect is only a kind of optical illusion created by the dark resin layer. When you clean the pipe and remove the resin, the pipe returns to its original translucent state and you can start the colour-changing process again.

Pretty cool, right?

You can imagine that seeing this transformation take place for the first time would be an exhilarating experience. That’s exactly what it was for H when he first saw a colour-changing glass pipe while he was on the road in the ‘90s following The Grateful Dead. He even tried his hand at becoming a glass blower himself, but he quickly snapped out of it and left that part up to the artists… he was more of a salesman, anyway.

Colour-Changing Glass Hits The Road

Always looking for ways to fund his ‘Dead Head’ adventure, H’s entrepreneurial spirit kicked in and he decided to go into the colour-changing glass pipe business. He had a feeling that anyone who experienced the magic of these pipes would fall in love.

But the love wasn’t exactly instant… at least with head shop owners. H took a case of the pipes on the road across the U.S. trying to convince shops to carry them. He brought along black tattoo ink so he could show them how the pipes changed colour by using the ink to mimic the dark resin effect. Even after seeing the colours change before their eyes, shop owners were reluctant to carry the pipes. Confident in their alluring power, H took a leap of faith and left the pipes at stores on consignment. Soon, the pipes started flying off the shelves faster than he could restock them, and colour-changing glass pipes had officially stolen the hearts of the masses.

Collage of the pioneer colour-changing glass from the old catalogue

Today, H’s online store continues to supply retailers and cannabis enthusiasts across Canada and the U.S. with classic, modern and innovative colour-changing glass pipes and other cannabis gear and accessories. Red Eye Glass® colour-changing glass pipes are an iconic symbol of cannabis culture, and they’re an essential piece for any true connoisseur’s collection.

What’s your first memory of colour-changing glass pipes? Share it with us on Instagram or Facebook… the more colourful, the better!