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Meet The Glassblower Who Turned A Hobby Into A Full-Time Job

"It's like a form of meditation: the only thing you're focused on is what's in your hands. You're not even thinking about breathing," says glassblower Jesse Briggs, 23.

Maritimer Glass, Briggs' business for the past two years, exemplifies the term "cottage industry": his workshop is a tiny, well-maintained shed in the backyard of Briggs' suburban home and studio. Creating intricate and beautiful glassware became his full-time pursuit after an injury at his former job at a mechanic's shop forced him off work for a month.

During his convalescence, "as soon as I was out of bed I was blowing glass," he says, using a torch his girlfriend purchased for him as a birthday gift. He started experimenting with creating one-of-a-kind, hand-crafted pieces incorporating an elaborate range of layered colors, made by experimenting with the flame chemistry, to create an exceptional sense of depth.

Photo: Isabelle Smith

He soon realized, the six to 12 pieces he was making each week were sufficiently lucrative to make his hobby a full-time gig.

"The more time you put into it, the more money you make," he says, adding that the handcrafted quality of his glassware gives it a different appeal than mass-produced pipes, bubblers, and dab rigs.

"People stare at it and wonder how it was made, and it brings up so many questions. People's reactions to it are the same as to a magic trick: there's no real way of explaining it until I show it to them."

Photo: Isabelle Smith

"I like pieces you can see into, that have more going on than just the stuff on the surface."

He adds that for many, the idiosyncrasies of the product are what draw them to his work.

"Sometimes the goblets that sell the fastest," says Briggs, "are the ones that are a little bit off-centre, because people want to see it's handmade."

"People that use glass don't have any clue how much work goes into it," he says. "The hours: the long, long heat and burns."

"A lot of love goes into what I do: I wish I could keep every piece I make."

Watch this short documentary on Briggs produced by Brock Jorgensen, Dan Culberson and Julia Wright:


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