Did You Break a Priceless Bong? Here’s What You Can Do
It’s an unimaginable situation for any glass collector. Somehow, a prized piece has been damaged, cracked, or even shattered. When the damage is done, most people ask themselves two questions: “How did this happen?” and “What do I do next?”
Often, the answer to the latter relies on the answer to the former.
When something “irreplaceable” gets broken, the first step is to establish if the break is something an artist can fix. Adam Kandel, one of the glass industry’s first legitimate appraisers, says that if a piece can be fixed, the cause of the break is often the deciding factor in (and how) it is repaired.
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Oops, I Broke It…Now What?
“If someone breaks a rare or a one-of-kind piece, what follows is mostly dependent on two things: the break and the treatment of the piece that led up to the break,” said Kandel.
On one end, he explained how breaks can sometimes be the fault of the artist, “If it wasn’t sealed correctly or the colors didn’t mesh well, it can cause internal breaks … They [artists] do their best to try to fix situations like that.”
However, if the break isn’t a reflection of a pre-existing flaw in the piece, there are other things to consider. “If it’s the buyer’s fault and it’s likely an effect of how the buyer treated the piece, it can be a totally different situation.”
When a piece is completely shattered, a buyer’s best bet is to contact the artist directly, keeping in mind that the fault of break often contributes to the artist’s willingness to help. An unfixable piece is hard to recover, but you can start the reparation process by determining its market value. Usually a piece’s most valuable traits are easy to spot:
- Type of style: the artist isn’t blowing this type of piece or no longer blowing glass at all.
- Limited editions: artists often retire certain styles and release limited edition sets at a higher value.
- Materials used: certain types of borosilicate can be difficult or even impossible to replace.
Why Originality and Sentimentality Reign
When making appraisals, Kandel starts by considering three basic factors: the artist, the amount of work done, and the piece itself, “Then I move on to the buyer condition of the piece and how it has been kept.”
Sometimes a piece gains value when multiple artists collaborate, making it harder to price (much less replace). When collaborative pieces are blown at popular events, such as Degenerate Flame Off, it contributes a sense of novelty to an already invaluable piece—even sentimentality. Yet according to Kandel, nearly any piece has a price, even if a buyer might not agree with it.
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“I think you can put a number on any piece,” said Kandel, “but sentimentality can be worth more than any monetary value.”
Many collectors say that using or looking at a certain piece evokes a specific feeling, which can be incredibly difficult to recreate. Often, this is one of largest hurdles in the process of agreeing on an appraisal for a piece.
“Some people have sentimental value in the pieces, which might make them feel it’s worth more,” Kandel said. “If I say the piece is worth ‘this much’ and they don’t agree, it might be because of sentimentality.”
Pricing From an Artist’s Perspective
According to Chris Carlson, a renowned glass blower with seventeen years in the industry, pricing is always difficult—even before a break.
“Pricing is really subjective,” said Carlson. “It is one of the hardest parts of all of this, trying to figure out what the prices are. And it’s more than just that, there are so many other factors to consider: what people have paid before, what it compares against, and so on. It’s a mixture of all of those things.”
And even if an artist is willing to work with a buyer to recreate a piece, Kandel notes each work of art is technically one-of-a-kind, “nothing can ever be done exactly the same,” said Kandel. “A second piece could mimic another piece, but with glass everything is one-of-one.”
If an artist won’t or can’t fix the piece, collectors are left wondering what’s next, but Kandel says there is a certain amount of responsibility a collector takes when letting someone else use their valuable piece.
“Most of the time, I think it’s handled privately between friends,” said Kandel. “If you’re going to pull out a certain piece that is worth so much money, I would hope you’re not just letting strangers hit it—especially if you don’t think they can cover it.”
“Art is a very temporary thing, but the art that matters is the art that stays relevant even after it’s gone.”
Joe Peters, Glass Artist
According to Joe Peters, a glass artist who has collaborated on pieces valued at $300,000, glass collectors are all too familiar with the possibility of disaster.
“When you collect glass, you need to be open to the possibility that you might lose it one day,” said Peters. “All you can do is find another artist that you like, or another piece that you like, and continue on.”
Peters adds, however, that while a piece may no longer exist, the feeling it evokes can live on forever, “art is temporary; most of it doesn’t last the test of time. You can do everything right, leave your piece at home and still have your house burn down. Nothing is guaranteed. Art is a very temporary thing, but the art that matters is the art that stays relevant even after it’s gone.”
Glass experts weigh in on what it takes to replace an expensive or sentimental bong. Tip: don't panic—there's a way to make peace with a shattered piece.
How to Repair a Broken Bong Percolator
Introduction: How to Repair a Broken Bong Percolator
Note: This tutorial will work on tobacco waterpipes (bongs) with 4mm glass. It is easier to do than it looks. You just might have to practice with the glass cutter. If you like your bong a lot or if it was expensive, it is definetely worth it. Besides, once you have all the materials you can fix many bongs in future, too. Also, it is a fun project.
You will need:
– A simple glass cutter, for example this one: Amazon.com link*
– Two component epoxy glue without solvents (you also can get food
grade epoxy if you want), DON’T use glass glue unless it is food grade and water resistant. Normal glue will not work! For example this one: Amazon.com link*
Advantage of epoxy: once dried out it is very hard, not toxic and the one I
have is also resistant to acid and bases (good for dishwasher tabs when
– A jetflame lighter or candle (for thicker/ thinner glass)
– Not to forget: A broken bong (whole percolator broken off or if an arm of the perc broke off)
* = These links are all amazon.com affiliate links
Step 1: Using the Glass Cutter
– wash your bong from the inside and outside with dishwasher tabs and hot water (that yellow thingy is the rest of a tab that didnt dissolve properly)
– then dry it off well on the outside
– find a stable and easily turnable position to (ideally) cut a perfect ring around the neck of your bong
– apply a little oil to the small cutting wheel of the glass cutter
– mark the place where you want to cut (in my case at the bottom so I can
get at the bottom of the percolator when glueing it back on later)
– place the glass cutter straight onto the glass
– gently apply force on it so you get a deeper cut while slowly turning it
– (practice on a normal glass before if you want to)
– don’t panic – the glass cutter doesn’t really cut the glass deep at all, more looks like a scratch
Step 2: Open Up the Bong
– Now carefully heat the small cut the glass cutter made. Use a jetflame
lighter (thicker glass) or a candle (thinner glass) for around 20-30
– try to only heat the small cut
– then immediately cool the glass off with cold water
– the glass will crack after this. If it doesn’t, try heating the cut longer or
you have a bong made of heat resistable glass.
– do this over and over again bit by bit until you have a nice crack going through and all the way around the glass
– you might have to re-cut some places
– after you have a crack around it it will either easily come apart or you have to gently knock it on an edge (of a wooden table)
– once apart, wash the inside out with hot water and dry the perc and the other two parts well with a hairdryer
Step 3: Fixing Your Percolator
– Firstly, take the epoxy and make an equally long line of each the epoxy and the hardener and mix it up well (you don’t need very much)
– apply it to whatever you want to stick back together
– hold it in place for 5 minutes
– (if just one of the arms broke off you can either put it back on or block
the hole with epoxy and throw away the one arm)
– wait 10 minutes and apply another layer around the outside just to go sure it won’t leak any water (only if your whole percolator broke off like in the pictures)
Step 4: Putting Everything Back Together
– Now, mix some more epoxy
– Find the exact position where the two parts were together before
– Apply it to both sides (not too much or it will flow out on the sides when
put together -> not so nice)
– push from the top so everything goes together tightly without air bubbles
– stabilize the position otherwise it moves slightly while drying and then you have edges
– it will be smokeable in 18-48 hours
– CONGRATS! You will have fixed your bong!
I fixed two bongs this way. Didn’t find any tutorial with this method so I decided to share it with you!
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How to Repair a Broken Bong Percolator: Note: This tutorial will work on tobacco waterpipes (bongs) with 4mm glass. It is easier to do than it looks. You just might have to practice with the glass cutter. If you like your bong a lot or if it was expensive, it is definetely worth it. Besid…