Who is Chameleon Glass?
Chameleon Glass Prides itself on being one of the few United States of America-based glass manufacturing companies.
Proudly Supporting homegrown artists and glass blowers, Founder Ken Kuhlow is always excited for the new generation of glass blowers to come to learn from him.
We had the chance to chat with Ken about how he continues to craft functional art for the cannabis community.
Who Founded Chameleon Glass?
Surprisingly Ken didn’t always imagine he would be crafting glass for the cannabis world.
“I was an industrial engineering major. I was in the army for a few years with the core of engineers. And when that time was up, I went to work for general electric in Ohio, and we were making light bulbs at the time.” -Ken Kuhlow
Wanting to explore living outside of the midwest, Ken decided to return to school in sunny southern California.
“I went back to school in LA and upon graduation, I really got the bug for entrepreneurship in the master’s program. And so I hooked up with the SBA and I started looking for a business broker… This small distributorship came up for sale called Chameleon Glass. And I went and I visited with the guy (Howie) who had started it in Humboldt.” – Ken Kuhlow
Smoking and vibing with Howie, enlightened Ken to want to pursue the takeover of “Chameleon Glass” and utilize his industrial know-how to take the company to the next level.
Where is Chameleon Glass Based?
The Chameleon Glass Factory is based in Phoenix, Arizona. Wanting to break out of the Midwest, Ken planted roots in the warmest place he could find.
What Products does Chameleon Glass Carry?
“We’ve probably had a thousand plus designs and models that we’ve actively manufactured at the height. We had 750 or so active SKUs. I’m probably carrying about a little over 200 right now.”
With such a product variety available, it can be easy to become overwhelmed when deciding which glass piece is appropriate for your cannabis needs.
Functional Art, Food, Animals, you name it, Chameleon has the perfect glass-inspired piece from Bubblers to Gandalf Pipes.
How Many Glass Blowers does Chameleon Employ?
“At the high point in say let’s call it 2009, 2010. You know, we had 70 employees, we were running two shifts. I owned a small factory building and yeah, all was right with the world” – Ken Khulow
Increased competition from Chinese manufacturers hit home hard for Chameleon glass, greatly reducing their market share and ability to compete on pricing.
“The functional artwork, that we produce by hand here in the United States and Mexico is, is amazing. And I work with some amazing people and they too have dedicated their lives to, to that passion. And on one hand, it’s tough because they don’t make anywhere near what they’re worth because of China. But on, on the positive side, you do get to come to work every day, loving what you do. You know, you get to make, you know, aliens and you get to make glow in the dark Cheshire cats and you get to make bongs and you make, get to make all, all kinds of, of really, really cool functional artwork.”– Ken Khulow
How long does it take to become a Professional Glass Blower?
The Pride of Work from Chameleon Glass is truly one of a kind. Ken trains glassblowers for years before they are really ready to go out on their own. Chameleon Glass is one of the few factories willing to train and educate someone wanting to learn the craft. It will typically take 3 years before someone can call themselves a “glassblower”
“When people first start at Chameleon, you’re an apprentice. You do, you prepare the glass for the seasoned artists and you build up all of your musculature in your arms, in your shoulders, the back of your neck. Because when you’re sitting here in front of a torch for eight hours straight holding your arms straight out, it takes an out, well, it takes somebody who’s stretching and working out about six months.
If you’re just doing it during work, it’s gonna take you more than a year to get to the point before you can sit and actually blow glass for eight hours straight and come in the next day and do it again. So they work on that. Often I like to tell people that the functional art that we make is made of all kinds of different colors. And so when you see something that has all of these wonderful colors in it wow, each one, this is a three-color. This is two different reds and an Amber purple, mixed. Not to mention the clear each one of those colors is actual, entirely different in how it behaves from other colors. And so part of being a prepper or being an apprentice is to master how each color that we’re going to use is going to be applied.”
What Makes Chameleon Glass Unique Compared to Other Glass Companies?
Besides proudly being crafted and sourced from entry USA-made materials, Ken spares no expense on the colored glass and time committed to having his artists master their craft and use only the best materials.
USA vs. Chinese Made Glass
“What I would say is that China and India are both number one in mechanized production, which I was just on the planet caravan website and they’re, they’re kicking out bongs for Walmart and Amazon already. So what I would tell you is that on a standardized clear vessel from whatever low labor market you’re looking for you know, there’s, unfortunately, you’re looking at a machine-made object mass-produced and as long as that’s all you want, well, you’ll very soon be able to walk into Walmart and Amazon and get probably a $9.99, 18-inch speaker with a ground joint and a diffuser down in a, in a bowl. And it will look like every other single one that’s out there.”
While Chameleon Glass can’t compete on pricing when it comes to manufactured Glass, Ken notes that something is missing when you choose to buy a “soulless” mass production item.
“In addition to having a soul and being for the most part, pretty unique, you get something important to you…look at that piece on the shelf and understand someone devoted, you know, four or five years of their life to getting to the skillset that they need to produce that for you. And that’s, that is another thing that they’re buying is they’re in essence, they’re buying a little, a little piece of someone’s life when it comes right down to it” – Ken
Where to Find Chameleon Glass
Check out the amazing functional art of Chameleon Glass Here!