There’s a fire in Morgan Virag’s shop, but after nearly 10 years of making glassware, it’s one he has under masterful control.
There’s a cautious dance of flame, molten glass, and Virag’s quick working hands over a large machine spewing fire. He chats with casual ease, not missing a beat, while expertly twisting and turning the red-hot substance over what is basically an open furnace. At least it feels that way if you stand nearby, anyway.
“I have a full production line for smokeware but I do lighting, I do sinks. If you draw it, I can make it,” Virag said. “It’s just my name, Slugworth, is associated with the bong world. But before I did bongs, I did fine art. But then that market tanked and the weed market blew up.”
Virag, artist pseudonym Loki, is the owner of Slugworth Glass, a company that makes custom and wholesale glass pieces of the smoking variety. It’s at that shop, which he built in the Durango area, where he spends countless hours making glassware. He came to the area from Fresno, Cali. – a far cry from the quiet countryside his shop now resides in.
“I moved out here a little over four and a half years ago. Drove to every city in Colorado, fell in love with Durango, packed my family up and got the f*ck out of Fresno,” Virag said.
These days, he’s mostly hidden away from the prying eyes that are curious as to what is going on in his shop. That’s just how he likes it.
“I try to stay out of the glimpse,” he said. “I only sell to Cloud 9 (Head Shop) here in Colorado. I’m in thirty-eight states and five different countries. I’m back ordered thirteen months.”
The California native mostly makes dab rigs and such, but that’s not all he can spin on his machines. With nearly a decade of experience under his belt, he can make an assortment of pieces, like beer mugs, for his neighbors.
Once you see his finished products, it’s easy to see why his wares sell out quickly, and why he was awarded third place by High times in 2015 for best glass for customs and wholesale. In his storage room, he pulls out a colorfully striped dab rig with clean, sharp crystals jutting out along the rims, an alien bong made of crushed opal to give it a sparkling galaxy effect, and another piece, made in collaboration with Fire On Earth Glass Studio, that is clear but etched with images of tall trees, fish, and elk. It looks like something you’d purchase at a national park shop. Virag’s storage area is full of unique work like this. Piece after piece, made with graceful attention to detail and form. Even if you’re not a smoker, some of the pieces are exquisite enough to use as home decor, should you be so inclined.
“I can’t keep my shit in stock. Everybody’s like, ‘You should raise your prices,’ but I’m like, ‘No, this is why I’m back ordered three months.’ ... But see, a lot of people wouldn’t put these colored sections in and don’t know how to do it. All my shapes are mine. Great example, everything has a top-hat shape. ... This sticks me out against the other guys. ... So when I make the top hat, people know me for making top hats. Even though it’s a stupid gimmick, it’s put me on the map and now people won’t copy that design because if they do, people are like, ‘Oh that’s Sluggy’s. Don’t mess with Sluggy.’”
To learn more about Slugworth Glass, visit his Instagram account at @slugworthglass420 or firstname.lastname@example.org.