Piper Dan Interview by Mike Stoked at GlassRoots Art Show, Madison WI, October 2016
Q: How did you get started & what was it like in the beginning?
A: “ I was a big fan of Bob Snodgrass when i was on dead tour. I was one of those dirty dreadlock bare foot hippies walking around dead lot selling lsd so i could get a bob snodgrass pipe. At the time I was making pipes out of pipe stone and it was just a dream to blow glass because back then nobody knew how to do it, bob was the only one who knew how, so it was a totally unobtainable thing.”
Q: When you started blowing glass did you strive to follow bobs footsteps as far as selling your glass at shows?
A: “Well when I started it was right around when Jerry Died, so there were no shows and i was still bitter so i didn’t go to phish shows. But eventually when i got over my sadness i started to doing phish tour and that was amazing.”
Q: What were you making when you began to blow glass?
A: “Mostly just pipes, i was trying to do snodgrass quality heady stuff. Obviously had no idea how to do it. We were all kinda teaching ourselves the tricks, but i always tried to make nice unique stuff and stay away from production.”
Q: At what point did you start to develop your own style
A: “That wasn’t until 2004. That was way after i got into marbles and when i first started doing marbles it was all about pinwheels, reticellos and murrine. Eventually it got kind of crowded and i needed to do something unique so i started doing city skylines.”
Q: Where did you begin?
A: “Ive been in Humboldt county the whole time. I started there in a school bus up in Maple Creek on a generator and a couple of K tanks kinda been there ever since, I’ve been too happy to leave.”
Q: When was the Skyline series born?
A: “2005/2006 i started with my first Skyline and it was all Marbles at that point but then in 2009 i started making them as functional stuff and then it really started taking off. Such a bigger market.”
Q: What was your favorite experience with glass when meeting someone who inspires you?
A: “Dang, thats a good question.. theres a lot of people. I’m gonna have to say Robert Mickelson i used to have a glass school in Arcata for like 2 years and we had 8 workshops, Mickelson came thru and taught us all how to do ‘Graal’ and that was super intense & we were grateful for the experience, yea he was great.”
Q: What is your biggest Inspiration for the work that you do today?
A: “Pretty much people, i like nature and all that but I’m really impressed with human accomplishment so I’m into architecture and then music is the fuel for the work, so its not that i like people but i love what people do.”
Q: Speaking of music, we know you dabbled as a musician as well, tell me about that?
A: “When i had the glass school i used to play music for the workshops and for the flame off and somehow i got it in my head that i thought i can be a DJ; i dunno there was a weird lull in the market and that was right when everybody was making a lot of money off of pot gardens so i just said fuck it I’m gonna take a year off and learn how to make electronic music and my friends in ‘The Disco Biscuits’ would let me play during set breaks. I realized after i learned how to work all the machines that i was a horrible songwriter and then i turned 40 and thats an automatic fail for a DJ. So that was pretty much just a huge failure but i had to follow that dream and see that i was bad at it. Then i went back to glass which ended up being so much better, in fact i was so happy the feeling was euphoric.”
Q: Tell me a vivid memory that you hold onto, and reflect on often?
A: “Back when i used to carve pipestone before i got into glass it was 1992 and i actually traded ‘Bob Snodgrass’ one of his glass sidecars for one of my long pipestone sidecars with a wooden handle; it looked like a tomahawk. And that was pretty much the high point of my pipestone career before i got into making glass. Thats how i got my name Piper Dan from carving things out of pipe stone.”
Q: Transition from the Nightline & the Viceline?
A: “I saw some iconic photos of Miami and i wanted to get into ‘Art Basel’ somehow so i just thought id do a Tropical scene. With lit up white buildings that glow at night and the palm trees.”
Q: What do you look forward to in the next year?
A: “I just want to come up with a new skyline, a good one, have it sell & have fun making it.”