Hello World of Bongs Community, we are back for a interview with Suuze Rateliff (Coolhandsuuze), one of the participants at the Tournament of Fire:
WHAT GOT YOU INTERESTED IN GLASS IN THE FIRST PLACE?
I started smoking herb in my teens, glass pipes were just becoming a thing. I would go to the head shop and look at all the newest stuff weekly. I loved all the glass right away. Then one day I was at a rainbow gathering in Missouri and I saw a guy out there in the woods making pipes and I was entranced. I sat there all day watching him. Right then I knew that I was going to be a glass pipe maker.
WHERE DID YOU LEARN YOUR SKILLS?
I learned a little something from every pipe maker I came across in the 90s, I mostly just learned by doing it. Then I went to Salem Community College to get my degree in Scientific Glass blowing and learned how to use the lathe. From there I spent a lot of years working in labware manufacturing. After working for the man for so long I was stoked to come back to pipes and art.
DO YOU CREDIT ANY OTHER GLASS BLOWERS WITH HELPING YOU ACHIEVE YOUR SUCCESS?
When I started out, I got some tips from Cosmos and Freeman Corbin. Then I met Hamm, and I started working for JBD. I learned a little from both of those outlets. Hamm shared my garage shop for a few years and was always great to talk to about glass stuff. I wouldn’t say his style influenced mine really, but more his drive and inspired spirit helped me to find that within myself. To this day we remain friends and he still inspires me to push my boundaries.
TALK TO ME A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR STYLE. IT´S VERY TECHNICAL.
I’d say my style is a good mixture of technical and classical. I’m drawn to clean lines, few attachments, and classical forms like amphoras and older venetian style vessels. I’m a huge fan of the Victorian era and the renaissance, so all that old stuff really gets my juices flowing. I’m also really into fantasy novels, so I tend to find inspiration from that realm as well.
WHAT MATERIALS DO YOU MOST LIKE TO WORK WITH?
I lean toward blocks of solid colors. There really isn’t a color I don’t like. I enjoy finding pleasing combinations of colors. The great thing about the borosilicate color palette currently is that they’ve added textures to the colors as well. There are glittery colors, colors that have multiple colors in one stick, colors that change color in different light, matte finish… the list goes on and on.
WHAT’S THE MOST FAVOURITE PIECE YOU’VE EVER MADE?
At the moment, my favorite piece I’ve ever made is this tripod lamp style piece that has flowers all over it. It’s in a store down in Orange County at the moment. I’m never really great at picking favorite things because as I make more things a new one will be my favorite tomorrow. Who knows, the piece I finished last night might become my favorite this morning when I get to my studio!!
WHAT WAS YOUR WORST MOMENT ON THE PATH TO “MAKING IT” AS A GLASS ARTIST?
This one time way back in like 2000, I got a custom order for a rooster sculpture from a guy that worked at the oxygen supplier I frequented. I was working on some other things so I couldn’t get to his order right away, but I had to go to his store every week so he just kept asking about this rooster. I finally started it like 3 weeks later. I made it out of solid glass and it was about 6 inches tall and 2.5 inches thick at it’s middle. Then I got to his legs. The body was so heavy I that it wouldn’t stand on those tiny chicken legs. I tried for days to get this thing to stand. Of course it’s a huge hot piece of glass and eventually cracked. I fixed him, and finally got some legs under him. I was so happy! I set him in the kiln and told my man to turn is off in an hour. Well in that hour the kiln melted that rooster into a puddle. I had spent weeks on this thing at that point and I came home to a puddle. I had to go back to the oxy store tell the guy I failed and that I couldn’t make him his rooster again after so much time spent. Then I had to go there all the time and face that guy.
AND WHAT WAS YOUR PROUDEST MOMENT?
I’d say it was the day we turned on the gas for the first time at Acala Studios, my current studio here in Oakland, CA. I spent half a year planning and building this studio with my friend CernGlass. He came to me and said he wanted to build this amazing studio space and that he needed an experienced artist to build it. He picked me. We worked so hard for this space, and here we are nearly 4 years later and I’m still running it and working there everyday.
WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO NEW GLASS ARTISTS?
Don’t run before you can walk! Spend lots of time making very basic things until you get more knowledge of the material. So much more learning happens when you make the same simple thing over and over. Don’t just make one and think you’ve mastered it. Spend time working!!! This stuff doesn’t happen over night. You can take all the classes you want, but if you don’t spend time working the glass and learning how it moves as a material, you’ll waste a lot of time breaking things.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE STRAIN/EXTRACT, AND WHAT’S YOUR FAVOURITE PIECE TO DAB IT IN?
I tend to lean toward flowers lately. My favorite strain ever is the old Holy Trinity, but I haven’t seen it in a quite a few years. Recently I’ve enjoyed Ingrid and a couple Jack Herers. My two daily drivers live in my nightstand. I have a great little hammer from Banjo and a beautiful classic sherlock from my good buddy Germ.
IF YOU COULD MAKE YOUR “DREAM” PIECE, WHAT WOULD IT LOOK LIKE?
It would take a month, maybe more. I wouldn’t work on anything else for all that time. Probably a very elaborate chandelier that has a bong in it somewhere that has power pulleys to lower it for use.
WHO WOULD YOU LIKE, MOST OF ALL IN THIS WORLD, TO HIT YOU UP FOR A PIECE, AND WHAT PIECE WOULD YOU MAKE FOR HIM/HER?
I would love to make a ship in a bottle rig for Dean Ween of the band Ween. Or maybe a huge fish rig. He’s really into fishing and I’m really into his music, so I think that would be fun to do.
WHAT DOES THE FUTURE HOLD FOR GLASS ARTISTRY IN THE CANNABIS INDUSTRY?
I think we’re seeing it with things like the Puffco Peak attachments. People like gadgets and accessories they can add to that gadget.
IF YOU WERE SHIPWRECKED ON A DESERT ISLAND AND YOU COULD ONLY HAVE THREE ESSENTIAL PIECES WITH YOU, WHICH WOULD YOU CHOOSE, AND WHY?
A KJH water bottle, cuz I’d be thirsty. A magnifier pendant to start fires with. I’m not sure who makes those, but I’d want one! And probably a Robert Michelson piece with a naked lady on it. I think the local villagers would want to worship it as a shrine and I could trade it for supplies. If there were no locals at least I’ve have something beautiful to look at.
WHAT’S YOUR FAVORITE MUSIC TO WORK TO/DAB TO?
I listen to tons of different genres! I think my favorites are big band jazz and psytrance or DJ stuff.
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