It’s easy to be obsessed with stoner aesthetics. From the ol’ timey marijuana tax stamps in the 1930s to the rich romanticism depicted in photos of people puffing and passing a joint in the 1960s, it seems like no other plant has been immortalized in such an artistic way.
Smoking devices like rolling papers, pipes and bongs aren’t exempt from this reverence and it’s safe to say that potheads have even doubled as industrial designers refining and tweaking the most efficient ways to inhale.
Wander into any headshop and the options are endless from trippy, hand-blown Alice in Wonderland glass pieces that will surely send you down the rabbit hole, to the multi-chambered wizard staff that will land you in Mordor. Enter Liam Kaczmar, founder of Summerland Ceramics who, after seeing all this, invented a more sophisticated way to smoke.
“I lived on Haight street here in SF, which is lined with headshops. When I broke my first bong, I went looking for a new one—a wild search that wasn’t satisfied until Summerland,” he remembers when asked what inspired his coveted designs.
Each of Summerland’s finely sanded pieces could easily double as a vase perched on a mid-century walnut wall unit. Kaczmar walks us through his intricate slip-cast process, which starts by pouring viscous clay into plaster molds that helps it harden from the outside in after sucking up all the moisture. After each mold is pulled apart the bong is set aside to dry. A hole is drilled later for the downstem and then it heads to a sanding wheel. “From there, each piece is hand-sanded on a wheel to round out the edges and create a pleasing tactile finish to the raw clay. Now it’s finally time for the kiln, first fired to bisque, and then glazed, cleaned, and fired again to cure the glaze. Now it’s cooling and soon will be ready for quality control and packaging,” adds Kaczmar.
The result is true objet d'art that is seemingly indestructible due largely in part to the materials and craftsmanship that is carefully managed from start to finish. The sifted minerals come straight from the source, Mother Earth, and unlike other mass produced bongs, Kaczmar assures a deeper connection to the ritualistic practice of smoking only enjoyed through a Summerland piece. “Sounds like hippy shit, but for real, smoke one of our bongs and you’ll get what I’m talking about,” he jokes.
This limited edition special collaborative piece with Old Pal marries a similar Summerland aesthetic with a thicker sage green clay body that is unique to this organic relationship. A hand embossed special Old Pal stamp sits just above the carb tying together the nuanced look and feel of both brands.
So the next time you’re thumbing through the Whole Earth catalog or find yourself ogling alternative peace pipes behind the glass case at your local smoke shop, consider this collaboration.
“Today’s cannabis consumers exist across so many different lifestyles. The design of our bongs is so minimal that they can be appreciated by so many different types of people who are all into very different things beyond weed. These bongs are a blank form that doesn’t necessarily force any type of style or outlook and can complement any interior,” adds Kaczmar. We couldn’t agree more.