Introducing Bendable Glass!

3 Dec

bumped straight bendable glass dildoIn October, Secret Pleasures joined several other amazing vendors at The Crucible’s semi-annual  LF&P (Leather Flea Market and Play Party). It was a fantastic event and while we were there, we got to meet Benjamin Mathes , a glass artist with 13+ years of glass blowing experience. Ben is the artist and owner of Bendable Glass and he creates, among other items, absolutely stunning glass sex toys. Needless to say, we immediately fell in love with them and knew we had to have them. Cut to a month and a half later and we are now proud to announce that Secret Pleasures is the first retailer in the US to be carrying Ben’s stellar, one of a kind toys! We asked him to sit down with us to discuss how he began creating hand blown glass and what pushed him towards making toys. Here’s what he had to say:

Secret Pleasures: When did you first get into glass blowing?

Benjamin: I’ve been an artist all my life – I painted, drew, took extra curricular high school and summer classes, things like that. When I got to college, Virginia Commonwealth University, they have a standard art program, fine arts.  I did that but while I was there, I saw that they had a glass studio. I went in there and saw it and thought “Wow, this is fascinating”. I just kept watching and watching and I don’t know that I had ever seen it before but I immediately gravitated towards it because my grandfather is a ceramics artist and it was sort of like that but with a different material, on a different axis and I sort of understood it innately. And so I was just blowing glass at midnight, 2 AM, every day of the week, filling up all the bins at the studio so the other students couldn’t work … kinda hogging it but I loved it. I excelled at that class … so much so that my other classes sort of failed because I was so in love with it. So I did it for 4 years and realized I would be there for much longer if I actually wanted to graduate so I started to work in Williamsburg and Jamestown doing production. Basically making things as quickly as possible to sell for low-cost because it’s a tourist area. I learned tons of information I could never have learned at school because they were more analytical about HOW to do it as opposed to just doing it. And so I kept doing that for a year, and then moved up to Northern Virginia. I saw that there was a studio about 20 minutes from my house so I went by, saw that there was a guy working there by himself and I asked if I could help him and we just kind of became inter-meshed. Working with somebody is kind of a dance and it has to be the right partner. So we worked really well and I worked with him for about 4 years in Glen Echo and now I blow glass up at DC Glassworks in Hyattsville. I sometimes teach classes but the commute is hard around here so I try to make my living doing something else. I just have to be dedicated to being unemployed / self-employed!

SP: So, when you started, was the intent to create toys? How did that come about?

B: In college, the professor  didn’t teach you how to blow glass. He taught you how to cast glass … do all these other things with it so we learned from the other students who were there. So I learned from Steven Cornette who made this glass dildo out of milk glass which is just opaque white and he handed it to me one day and said “Here, just break it up and use it as color”. I thought it was clever. You know, there wasn’t much texture or anything so I just saved it. Years later, in college someone said “Hey, make the whole cock and balls”. So I was like “ok” and I made it. It wasn’t very functional, it had some sharp edges and then a couple of years later, while I’m working in Glen Echo I’m thinking “What can I do to focus my intent” and I thought, well I like giving people pleasure so why not – why can’t I do that with my art work? And so it just kind of evolved into that. I worked at Night Dreams for a little while as a manager just to make ends meet and I learned about what people like and why they like it and it just developed from there.

SP: So working at Night Dreams and seeing the different toys that they sold – is that sort of what inspires or informs you when you create toys?

bendable glass prostate toyB: Yes. I mean, for the prostate stimulators, they are directly influenced by something I saw there having never seen it before. I was thinking that I could also make it at a much more reasonable price from a much better material so I might as well.

SP: So, speaking of materials, I know recently there has been a lot of talk about glass  in the sex toy industry in terms of what is actually contained within the glass. Many people were concerned about the possibility of there being lead that could leach out of colored glass and things like that. What do you do in terms of safety for your glass and do folks need to take precautions with them such as using a barrier?

B: The only precaution is don’t boil it. As far as leaching lead out of it, it’s not lead based at all. All of the softeners that are used are entirely not of a toxic nature. It’s called soda lime glass which is soda ash and lime – those are the two ingredients, other than silica which is sand that has been purified. Pyrex is created with borax. And we know borax is toxic to roaches but it doesn’t leach out of the glass. Once something is inside the glass and it’s melted at 3,000 degrees, it’s not going to come apart unless there is some kind of chemical reaction. Some lead crystal, if it goes through the dishwasher with the wrong kind of soap, it might dissolve it a bit, cause  etching and make it frosted. But that’s over many, many washings with the addition of a chemical. You don’t want to be using chemicals on insertable toys in the first place. I hand wash all my glass but I can put it in the dishwasher too. But I don’t ever boil them to sterilize them. It just seems like exceedingly too high of a temperature.

SP: Now, the decision to not boil them – is that because of potential breakage issues? We have heard some people say “oh, go ahead and boil glass” and then other people say to never boil hand blown glass because it can destroy the colors. Is that true or is the issue something else entirely?

B: The technical answer is the difference in coefficient of expansion. When things heat up and cool down, they expand and contract at different rates depending on how much thermomass they have. Glass has a tremendous thermomass that will hold it but you have to do it a certain way because it is very rigid. Now Pyrex has a .2 coefficient of expansion which is very, very small. That doesn’t mean it doesn’t expand, it just does it very little which means it will stay solid. Now, conversely, soda lime glass has about a 6 coefficient of expansion … I may be off on the exact digit but it’s significantly more. And what that basically means is that you can’t heat one side and keep the other side cold because the expansion will be too great and it won’t hold it’s shape – it will crack. Colors are necessarily different coefficient of expansion than the clear glass but when we buy colors, we buy exactly the same coefficient of expansion so there shouldn’t be that problem. So what you are really dealing with when boiling a toy is the colors expanding at a different rate than the clear glass, thus creating a crack. They should be the same. If something is off or not crafted correctly, even Pyrex, if it forms a little divot, it can crack during heating. There are little tricks of the trade that you learn that allow things to stay together such as proper annealing. Annealing is bringing the temperature of the glass down to the point where you can hold it. So it’s coming from about 3,000 degrees to 100 and if it happens too fast, it will just pop. So it takes about 12 to 13 hours just to cool a piece down to where we can hold it.

SP: How often do you lose a piece due to that?

B: Due to thermal expansion? Never but I buy my color to be the same coefficient of expansion as the glass that I use and that’s fairly easy to do. But I can’t mix, say, stained glass, with what I use because that might be 102 coefficient of expansion and mine would be 96 because we use a type of clear glass called System 96.

SP: So if someone wants to be able to disinfect one of your toys because they are using it with a partner or partners, what would you suggest? Put it through the dishwasher with no soap or just hand wash it with mild soap and water?

B: I would say just hand wash with mild soap and water. If you are really worried about it being entirely sterile you can wipe it down with alcohol and then rinse it well.

SP: Do you have any plans to create new types of toys. Have you thought about creating harnessable toys or anything else?

B: I can make whatever people would like – it just depends on if someone would want it. I can’t sit around with too many things so if it came to that, I could make a harnessable toy, I would just need to make the base wider and that would be more of a custom piece. Maybe later I can make and sell 10 of those but I need to make it into a larger amount before it’s really worth it to make them ahead of time. I’ve been making whip handles and I can be really artistic with that. I wanted to make one that was a snake head with the body and texture of a snake and scales and then make the leather go perfectly in line with it – same color – and make it look like a snake. I can almost do it and I’ve been working with a leather worker to get that done since I’m not a leatherworker.

SP: When you are creating pieces, do you go into the studio with a specific shape in mind (a sketch or measurements) or do you create them as you go?

B: When I start I’m gathering a molten blob of honey like glass, flowing with increasing viscosity as it cools. I have to constantly turn the blowpipe to keep everything centered. If I stop, pause, change directions, touch it with tools or even if I wait for a few extra seconds, everything influences the glass to change shape in some way. It’s very subtle but each move and sequence combined, works to form the glass into what I will it to be. That being said, with so many mineut moves, there is a multitude of ways things can get thrown off from the desired result. So in the end, Glassblowing is always a compromise between the artists’ desired form and the glass’ desire to fall on the floor. A huge amount of the physics of glassblowing deals with gravity. In a zero gravity atmosphere, molten glass would naturally form a ball, on earth we have gravity affecting the material at all times, so I use it as a tool to achieve my desires. So, to sum up, I usually draw new ideas out, try them in the studio, find problems with implementing the creation of my desire, let the glass talk back to me and tell me what it wants, then finish the work. Then go back to the sketch book and draw, exactly as I can, what I had just made (because no one could have predicted the glass’ intentions & then I will look so much smarter when historians look at my sketchbook in the future!) That’s a little joke of mine, but truly the reason to draw after is because the only way accurately make a finished idea is to hone down after many trials and attempts, finding what isn’t possible and perfecting all the movements that are possible, until the design is what actually comes out….and then rinse an repeat. The teacher in me says to students “blowing glass is easy, making something beautiful is difficult” and “practice doesn’t make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect”

curved bendable glass dildo

Well, we think that Benjamin has perfected his practice because his toys are some of, if not the best we have ever seen. Each toy we have selected for the store is a unique piece of art to be used and cherished. Benjamin’s passion for his art is apparent not only in the objects he creates but in how he talks about the process. We asked him to share a bit more about himself and he told us that he is a pro board certified firefighter and has played Djembe and didgeridoo in fire circle festivals since he was 15 years old.  He went on to say that “I guess you can say I’m a wielder and craftsman of the element of fire, so much that the making of my art is not only fun, but actually the creation of a magical instrument of pleasure, created with intent and purpose to spread joy into the world”. We here at Secret Pleasures think that you have something truly special when the object that you receive not only looks beautiful but is created with beautiful and joyful intent!

We are thrilled about our partnership with Bendable Glass and we can’t wait for all of you to come into the shop to see these amazing pieces. Each one is truly striking and every single toy is one of a kind. We have every confidence that you will love them as much as we do!

One Response to “Introducing Bendable Glass!”

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Bendable Glass Dildo | Secret Pleasures Boutique - March 18, 2014

    […] Details:a. Product Name – Glass Dildob. Product Manufacturer – Bendable Glass c. Material – Borosilicate Glass  d. Warranty – N/Ae. Power Source – Manual (3 diet cokes, pizza, & a dance partyf. Waterproof Status – Waterproofg. Size – Varies toy to toy, color, size, textureh. Strength – 5 Star Rating Scale – 1. No vibration.i. Noise – Silent (the toy is, anyway)j. Lube Compatibility – silicone or oil-based work bestk. Cleaning & Care – mild hand soap and warm water. Dry with towel or air-dry. No dishwasher or boiling. Can be rubbed down with alcohol and rinsed off.l. Link – https://secretpleasuresblog.wordpress.com/2013/12/03/introducing-bendable-glass/ […]

    Like

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

Malin James

Erotica. Sex. Culture.

The Romance Evangelist

I live for the HFN/HEA and am decidedly pro-epilogue

Courtesan Press

Elegant Erotica & Romance

.Charlie Glickman

Explore Your Sexuality - A healthy part of life.

Ashley's Blog

Explore Your Sexuality - A healthy part of life.

Rad Sex

Radical Sex Education For Everyone

The Redhead Bedhead

Sex, Mental Health, & How None Of Us Are Broken

Hey Epiphora

Where sex toys go to be judged

Frisky Feminist Press

Explore Your Sexuality - A healthy part of life.

%d bloggers like this: