Empire Glassworks: Origins, History, and Techniques

Empire Glassworks is one of today’s premier functional glass brands. Their work ranges from simple hand pipes to well-decorated heady glass water pipes. All their pieces are handcrafted in the USA using special techniques and high quality American or European raw materials. They are known for their quality and creative designs.

 

History

 

Empire Glassworks was created in 2013 by a group of experienced glassblowers and jewelers. With over 40 years of experience, the pioneering artists set out to provide artistic accessories to smokers and vapers around the world. Based in Placentia, California, Empire distributes across the United States as well as abroad to Europe, Australia, and Canada. Their experience in soft glass figurines and borosilicate glass blowing has led to their reputation as one of the most consistently innovative functional glass companies.

 

Techniques

 

Every piece is handblown by an expert glassblower using traditional glassblowing techniques. First, the piece is placed and annealed in a 1000 degree Fahrenheit kiln. This allows the glassblower to expand the piece. The high temperature reduces the micro-fractures in the glass and makes it very strong. Intense heat exposure also deepens the glass’ color.

To get the finer bends in the glass, the piece goes through a process called “lampworking” where the glassblower molds the piece under a torch flame. The intricate designs seen in Empire Glassworks pieces are made possible by the patient work of these artists. Empire’s signature peace signs, animal figurines, and raised plantlife are all handmade using these techniques.

 

The Glass

 

Empire Glassworks only uses fine American glass or imported European glass. Starting with great raw ingredients is essential to achieve quality color and durability. All of Empire’s colored glass is hand mixed.

Dichroic glass is another Empire specialty. Micro-layers of metal oxides, ranging from three to five millionths of an inch, are melted into glass. The effect is a myriad of shifting colors. Metals like gold, silver, titanium, chromium, aluminum, zirconium, magnesium, and silicon are melted in a kiln and fused to borosilicate glass. The extremely thin nature of these metal oxides causes light to be randomly reflected and refracted. A dichroic glass pipe appears to change colors with different lighting and at different angles. NASA originally used dichro glass for astronaut’s glass reflectors. Today it’s used for other spacely activities.

Dichroic Glass Hand Pipe

 

The Pieces

 

Empire’s line features a variety of themed and colored glass. They are well known for turning food into smoking devices, with pieces like the Avocado Bong and Kitty Donut Bowl being hallmarks in their collection. Animals are also a common theme in their line. The Panda Dab Rig and Owl Themed Spoon Pipe are some of our favorites.

Above all, Empire Glassworks consistently puts out unique glass art. Their designers are constantly working to innovate and turn new ideas into heady glass. While most glass brands stick to the fundamentals, Empire brings a fresh perspective to the market.

Panda Dab Rig

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