Most of the suburbanites in Issaquah probably have no idea, but their mountainside town has one of the most illustrious collections of bongs on the planet. And they're all for sale. If you can afford them.
Inside an unassuming Issaquah storefront sits Washington's Own Glass, the only glass shop in the world where you can consistently buy bongs made by Mothership, a Bellingham company that makes some of the world's most sought-after glass pieces. These are bongs that can go for over $100,000—one-of-a-kind glass art that takes a team of artists to make. Mothership's Scott Deppe is the stoner version of Dale Chihuly: universally respected and thought of as one of the true pioneers of modern glass pipe making.
Mothership is far from the world's only high-end bong maker—other American glass artists sell similarly priced bongs—but Mothership arguably has the strongest following among collectors. When Mothership's bongs show up in head shops across the continent, people will stand in line to spend thousands.
Snoop Dogg has been pictured with Mothership's golden skull piece (which is on display at the Issaquah shop), Action Bronson and Vice News visited the company's Bellingham factory, and someone etched Mothership's logo into a crop circle in the United Kingdom. When Washington's Own Glass opened their doors this past January, people traveled to Issaquah from around the country.
So what is it about these bongs that attracts all this attention?
Part of their allure is their incredible functionality—these bongs can really deliver a smoother hit than almost any other piece. But it's also the marriage of craftsmanship and art. Each percolating chamber or glass joint is also an object of stark aesthetic beauty.
Colby Robinson, the owner of Washington's Own Glass and a collector of Mothership pieces since 2012, describes the bongs as "just a whole lot of perfect all in one."
"No one matches Scott's eye for perfection, and he's just a genius as far as what to do—what's the tubing size that creates the best smoke fluidity, what's the best restriction to have, right down to examining the glass to make sure there's no air bubbles or stress cracks in it," says Robinson.
Mothership's clear-glass pieces start at around $1,000—but prices rise quickly as more ornate details, such as precise geometric patterns cut into the glass or sand-blasted textures, are added to the design. With added splashes of color, Mothership pieces earn the designation "elite," and prices climb even higher, with some unbelievable pieces (often collaborations with non-Mothership artists) fetching upwards of $100,000 at auction.
Robinson has the largest collection of these elite pieces in the world on display; his shop on opening day resembled what you see scrolling through Instagram, and featured many of the most notable Mothership Elites ever made.
Foot traffic has been pretty light so far, says Robinson. But the Internet's thirst for Mothership glass has been insatiable—to the point where he has been unable to empty his email inbox because of the demand. So last month he decided to auction off some of his pieces.
In just four days, Robinson sold over $150,000 worth of bongs through Instagram, including several for more than $8,000 apiece.
Most buyers have to fly here to see this collection in person, but not Seattleites. The greatest collection of Mothership glass can be found just a few exits east on I-90. Washington's Own Glass is located at 275 1st Place NW in Issaquah; hours are noon to 7 pm Wednesday through Sunday, and by appointment Monday and Tuesday.
Go see what the internet can't get enough of, Seattle.