Glass and Hash in the Pacific North West: The Story of Stormin Norman
by Samuel Farley, @THC_Samuel
Stormin Norman has made a name for himself in the glass art community over the last few years. Norman grew up in Seattle, Washington, where cannabis is a part of the culture of the city. For Norman, the introduction came in high school, and the more he got into cannabis, the more curious he became about the utensils used to consume the plant. “Pipes are a tool that go along with cannabis, so I just became more aware of the culture when I first started smoking,” says Norman. In his early 20s, Norman stepped into his first high-end glass studio at Puffin Glass Studios, a shop formerly operating in North Seattle. “I went into the shop and they had local work from people like Scott Deppe and Quave, and the Deppe pipe had a spinning tetrahedral with some skulls and it was so beyond anything I had ever imagined that someone would take the time to make. I was used to seeing spoons and beakers, and then I walked into that shop and saw those pieces and it totally changed my perspective,” reflects Norman. “It was a wild experience.”
Portal collab with @takaomiyake for the #alljapanshow 🇯🇵 This piece was started in Japan and finished in Seattle. I had a lot of fun in Japan during my trip in March, it’s really cool to be able to bridge a cultural gap with glass. #storminnormanglass #takaomiyake #hellafuckingdotsman #alljapanshow2017 #portalsandshit #siennabrown #porknipple #areyoudoneyet #whyareyoudoingitlikethat #konichiwabitches #Arigato
It was around this time that Norman was bored with his production job and decided to start learning how to blow glass. His first time on the torch was with friend and fellow artist, Scoz Glass. The experience solidified that glass blowing was something Norman wanted to take seriously, and Stormin Norman officially began the craft in December of 2014. “I worked at Seven Point Studios that was started by Nate Dizzle and he taught me a lot and taught me the basics, and then Kevin Quave moved into the studio space and I learned from him and it built from there. It was basically learning bits and pieces from everyone I was around and had the chance to work with, and it was a natural progression once I got into the work. I got introduced to Quave early on when he was starting Quave Club Banger and really had the chance to learn when it was a small room with like four people working in it. I really had the chance to be a fly on the wall and that’s when I was introduced to Elbo, Joe P, WJC and some other artists in the industry,” he recalls.
Although new to the craft of making glass pipes, Norman was committed to learning and progressing as quickly as he could. “I was still working my regular job at the time and would work my normal eight-hour day and then go to Seven Point and blow glass till they closed the studio. I was basically making marbles, little trinkets and I was never really working for someone. I had some money saved up and eventually I quit my job because you can’t have a job and blow glass as much as you need to. You need to put in that eight to ten hours a day to see the progression you want,” says Norman. After putting in time on the torch making art and off the torch building relationships, he started to see serious improvement in his work. “I didn’t have many skills when I started so I was selling whatever I could make. After my first trip to the Burning Man festival with a bunch of friends from the culture I came back with a new drive and and had a lot of new inspiration and worked even harder and tried to push my limits to see what I could do and what I could make,” says Norman.
At the time, around mid-2014, many artists were making bubblers, banger hangers and other simple functionals, and the recycler had become a very popular functional design. Norman wanted to make something new, something different and after trial and error he ended up with his first Orbuculum, a crystal ball design that has become one of his signatures. “I draw a lot and sometimes it just helps lead me to new ideas, and a lot don’t have any function but it helps lead me to new concepts that end up working. The first orb was really tricky; I messed up the first one and then I realized it was going to be really hard to get my sculptures to look like the drawings I sketched up, and it naturally progressed into the first Orbuculum around December of 2015,” says Norman.
As the career of Stormin Norman has continued to expand, he continues to take inspiration from his friends. “WJC and Quave have been good friends and the most recent large inspirations for my work, and it’s fun to have mentors and people you can build off of. It’s all been building, the hash is getting better, the glass is getting better and the community is continuing to build itself among all of that, and I’m looking forward to pushing the boundaries and making more intricate work. I want to travel more and spread this culture to other places around the world. We are onto something. Making the best hash and best glass in the world is exciting to be a part of and we have to spread that,” he says.
Artwork by Stormin Norman has been featured in some of the largest glass art shows to date, including Heaterz, Wook Show, Intrinsic and the recent All Japan Show in downtown Denver. Glass pipes and other work crafted by Stormin Norman can be viewed on his Instagram page at @Stormin__Norman and can be purchased at various galleries across the country. ♦
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