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Local business crafts pipes by blowing glass

Outside a familiar brick building labeled “Dragon’s Breath,” a small crowd gathered around what could only be made out as light behind some strange glass guard.

Upon further inspection, weaving through the small crowd, leaning in on tipped toes, two rowdy gentlemen are standing behind a torch, and one is wearing a welding mask and the other watching intently.

The gentleman wearing the welding mask is melting a glass tube in the torch and crafting it into a tobacco pipe.

These are the Menzies brothers, Grant and Will, almost interchangeable, and self-proclaimed best friends. They are former fiber optic engineers turned glass blowers.

The Menzies brothers have each been blowing glass for 10 years.

On this day in October they came out to explain the technique of blowing glass and promote their products in the community.

They sell their handmade pipes to Dragon’s Breath located on Second and Vine in Tyler.

“Our father makes custom made western boots. We grew up in an environment learning how to make stuff,” said Will Menzies.

The Menzies brothers said they were both traveling to Ohio, Washington, Missouri and California working as fiber optic engineers when a chance or fated encounter changed their collective lives.

They met a man by the name of Bob Snodgrass, a renowned glass blower.

“You need a glass blower? You need Bob Snodgrass,” Will said.

They started working for him doing odd jobs and selling his glass for a whole year before being taught to blow glass themselves.

Laid out on their workstation were glass tubes and rods, but also strange glass squares.

Charging a sheet of glass with electricity creates diachronic glass, they explained.

One side of the glass becomes positive and the other negative. To get a pearlescent color, heavy metal like platinum, for example, is put in a chamber with the charged sheet of glass.

The metal automatically vaporizes and sticks to the negative side evenly coating it with an opaque color.

This glass was actually invented by NASA and is a scientific process that creates a beautiful two-toned glass that changes when light shines through it.

The Menzies brothers are both full of life and wanted to do something they loved rather than just have a job for financial stability.

“Glass blowing has taught me about life,” Grant said.

Surely the lessons from blowing glass are as ambiguous as diachronic glass to most, but the Menzies seem to see crystal clear.

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