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Dichroic Glass Pipes - Smokin Js

Dichroic Glass - Space Age

If you’re anything like us here at Smokin Js, you often wonder about the origins of the beautiful pieces that deliver our sacred herb. Ever see the pipes that appear as if they are reflecting the heavens? A perfect rainbow suspended in glass...That’s dichroic, baby! Nasa’s gift to pipe smokers everywhere.


Significant commercial development of reflective glass was spurred by the military and aerospace industries in the 1950’s and 60’s to protect astronauts from UV radiation. That means some Earthy glass has resulted spacey science dude. 

Dichroic glass, a.k.a dichro (glass blower slang), is defined as the property of having more than one color, especially when viewed from different angles, or transmitted versus reflected light. The first of the two colors is referred to as the “transmission” color, which is the color one can see through the glass, while the other is the reflected color and can be seen when light bounces off the surface of the glass. Dichroic coatings transmit certain wavelengths of light, while reflecting others, thus creating an interference effect, similar to the iridescence observed in nature’s fire opal, dragonfly wings, or hummingbird feathers. This gives dichroic pipes not only an endless rainbow of color, but also imbues warmth and life into each one.   


Dichroic glass takes intentional effort and knowledge to create. The artist must have a fundamental understanding of dichroic glass’ characteristics to work with the high-tech material. The filter materials are all clear or black and have no inherent color present. Furthermore, there is effectively no absorption of visual light. This is unlike typical colored glass, which derives its color by transmitting one band of light while simultaneously absorbing the remaining part of the color spectrum.

Dichroic glass is expensive to produce due to the highly scientific and complex nature of the process. Glassblowers purchase their dichro in sheets from manufacturers, and then apply it to traditional glass tubing during the blowing process. Dichro glass is produced through a process known as thin film physics, and is generally referred to as a color separator. The initial process is completed in a vacuum deposition chamber by vaporizing quartz and metal oxides with an electron beam gun, and condensing micro thin layers on the surface of the glass in the form of a crystalline structure.  That sounds like some Star Trek space-age stuff right there!

And we put it in a glass pipe!!!


Dichroic glass for the artist community would not have been possible without the partnership of Murray Schwartz and Jerry Sandberg. Jerry (of Coatings by Sandberg) was working for the GM Vacuum Coating Laboratory when he found Murray dumpster diving out back for rejected aerospace mirrors to create sun catchers and artistic mobiles. They became quick friends which led them to create the first three dichroic glass colors specifically designed for the glass art community. Ray Howlett is the first known artist to develop sculptural dichroic glass pieces. He constructed magnificent light boxes that bounced light and color to infinity. These artists focused on ascetically pleasing pieces, the likes of which the world had not seen before. Their efforts allowed for artists like K-Mac and Atlantis Glass to create not just incredibly beautiful pipes, but fully functional pieces of art that deliver the sacred herb in style. 

Check out the wonderful world of dichroic glass pipes we have for sale at Smokin Js HERE

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