The History Of Heady Glass & How Social Media Has Forever Changed It:
Over the past decade, social media platforms like Instagram and Facebook have had a significant impact on the heady glass industry, driving its rapid growth and expanding its reach to a wider audience. Prior to the advent of social media, the heady glass industry was relatively small and insular, with a few dedicated collectors and enthusiasts who were passionate about the artistry and craftsmanship of glassblowing.
The Birth Of The Industry
The history of the heady glass industry can be traced back to the 1960s and 1970s, when a group of artists in California began experimenting with glassblowing techniques to create functional and artistic glass pieces. These early pioneers of the heady glass movement included artists like Bob Snodgrass, who is often credited with developing the technique of fuming, and Marcel Braun, who is known for his intricate and colorful glass designs. This scene remained relatively isolated; the industry remained relatively small and focused on a niche audience of collectors and enthusiasts.
Riley McDonnell the Founder of GlassPass, an App for buying and selling Glass that is very popular in the industry had this to say about the early days of the scene,
“Even before social media was popular, back when most people use the Internet through a computer rather than a phone, there were websites dedicated to the glass art community. For example, glasspipes.org has a couple thousand posts with some dating back as far as 2004 or so. The scene added the community back then, before I ever even knew about it, was so small and very tight knit. If you read through some of the posts dating back to 2006, you’ll find a lot of popular artists of today posting super intricate and beautiful OG style glass. There’s an ‘06 post from Illadelph of some worked cups, martini glasses, and figurine sculptures; stuff you would never see them go near today”
Introduction Of Social Media
This all changed with the advent of social media in the early 2000s. Platforms like Instagram and Facebook allowed glassblowers to showcase their work to a much larger audience than ever before, and to connect with collectors and buyers from all over the world. Glassblowers began using social media to share photos and videos of their work, offering a behind-the-scenes look at their creative process and building a fanbase of dedicated followers.
“All the big artists of now were a bunch of fledgling lamp workers back then, and they really all relied heavily upon each other to build the beginnings of the community that exists today. You can tell in the way they put a lot of effort into every caption, describing the techniques, technicalities, and colors to help each other grow. Every post ended with a 'tysm for looking' sort of phrase, and it was clear the passion was strong”(Riley McDonnell)
Birth Of The Secondary Market
This had the additional effect of increasing demand to the point that a secondary market developed. In the beginning sales and acquisitions were fraught with scamming. Initially it was Facebook groups and instagram communities that attempted to police themselves, removing or blocking members who had broken communities rules. Riley explained to us that this was a driving force behind the concept of GlassPass,
“Glass has always been underground and hidden on the internet, first existing on old, slow, ugly websites. As the various social media platforms grew popular, artists were able to connect with their collectors more easily, and spread the reach of their work much farther than possible before. But, social media was never designed to be sales-oriented.”
With the invention of GlassPass, marketplaces designed and engineered specifically for buying and selling glass, this process has become much more accessible and eliminates any risk when transactions are done through the app.
What Does The Industry Look Like Today
Today, the heady glass industry is thriving, with glassblowers from all over the world creating stunning and intricate pieces that are highly sought after by collectors and enthusiasts. Social media continues to play a major role in the growth of the industry, with platforms like Instagram and Facebook allowing artists to connect with a global audience and build a brand around their unique style and aesthetic. While there has been an massive influx of glass artists market prices have somewhat stabilized. Allowing the best of the best, artists like Banjo for example to charge upwards of a hundred thousand dollars for certain pieces.
In conclusion, we asked Riley what the future of GlassPass looks like?
“Now, with Meta actively blocking glass posts daily, there’s a new shift coming in the industry. We’re building a home for glassblowers, lovers, and collectors that will have anything you can imagine about glass. We want to show the world that our functional glass art community is just as legitimate, valuable, and important as any other form of art. We want to help spread that message”
So ultimately the impact of social media on the heady glass industry over the past decade has been enormous, driving the rapid growth of the industry and expanding its reach to a much larger and more diverse audience. While the industry was once a niche community of dedicated collectors and enthusiasts, it has now become a global phenomenon that continues to evolve and push the boundaries of what is possible with glassblowing.