Glass magic

TaMike McCloud is returning to his love of glassblowing, opening a new gallery Aug. 2 and doing a live glassblowing demonstration this month.

Glass magic
Alexa Ace
TaMike McCloud, at work fashioning a piece of glass art, opens his new shop, Centered Glass Gallery, in Oklahoma City next month.

TaMike McCloud glassblowing demonstration

noon-5 p.m. July 13

Lucky’s Grow Supply
7507 Broadway Extension

TaMike McCloud incidentally witnessed a glassblower practicing his craft about five years ago and quickly fell in love with the art. It has been a bumpy ride, but he is entering a new era for his business.

“It’s not that I just focus on pipes. I’m a glass artist. The main thing that I do is make marbles. I can make pipes. I can make pendants. I do chandeliers, goblets, all of that, but my thing is marbles,” McCloud said. “I opened up a smoke shop. Went out to a trade show and there were a bunch of glassblowers there. Spent more time around the glassblowers than I did in the trade show.”

McCloud got his start about five years ago and learned from a glassblower who goes by the name of Earl Jr. from Grey Area Studios in Arlington, Texas.

“He took me under his wing, and I just started learning from there. We would talk by phone,” he said. “I didn’t know which equipment to buy. I basically gave them access to my account. He built my cart, ordered everything I needed. He talked to me by phone, how to hook everything up, started me on YouTube videos, which videos to order, all this other stuff. And then after about three or four months, I went down there and actually was able to kick it with them for a little bit.”

McCloud opens Centered Glass Gallery, 6226 N. Meridian Ave., on Aug. 2.

“We will be opening up a glass gallery that’s nothing but high-end art pieces,” McCloud said.

They will also be selling pipes, a fact that is a little more surprising if you know about the trouble selling glass pieces previously brought him.

The trial about The Friendly Market selling glass pipes in Norman was highly publicized, but not as many know about McCloud’z Pipes.

“Most people aren’t familiar with McCloud’z. That was the first one in Norman, and I was down there for two years before all of that happened. I had a glass gallery down there. My pipes started at about three dollars, but they went up to about five, six thousand dollars. The majority of my pipes were a hundred dollars and over. And over, it was, I think, over 70 different artists throughout the U.S. I had and three from out of country. Had murals of local artists throughout the place and all this other stuff,” he said. “But, long story short, got raided simply because I was selling glass. Fought that for two and a half years. Oklahoma became legal. The DA called me up and said, ‘We’ll drop all the charges if we get to keep all your stuff.’ I was like, ‘Yeah, keep my stuff. Drop charges.’ And then I’m just building back up again at this point.”

The confiscated pieces totaled between $60,000 and $80,000.

“I had first-edition pieces that you wouldn’t get anywhere else. You had pieces from Bob Snodgrass, LaceFace. There’s so many artists to where, for instance, for the Snodgrass piece that I picked up back in the day for $100, it sells for $1,000 today,” McCloud said. “That’s the type of glass that I deal with, and that’s what was down there.”

The entire debacle lasted more than three years.

"But once you’ve been burned, it’s
hard to feel good doing it again."
—TaMike McCloud

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“A couple of friends have contacted me to kind of do some things, and I’ve been kind of picky about what I want to do because the whole glass scene, everybody knows me for what type of glass I carried,” he said. “I really would like to get back into it. But once you’ve been burned, it’s hard to feel good doing it again. That raid really took the joy of blowing glass away from me, and that’s the biggest thing out of everything that happened. It was the joy of blowing glass that I hate the most that was taken.”

He has been working for a dispensary and blowing glass in Seminole and decided to jump back into the glass scene. However, he will not be doing glassblowing inside the new gallery.

“When I first started the shop down in Norman, I set up a glassblowing studio, thinking that all the stores around the U.S. did it. And then I had glassblowers coming up and it was like, ‘You have one of the top stores in the country,’” McCloud said. “The type of store that we want to do in Oklahoma City, we won’t have a glassblowing studio, but we will be able to do a lot more without that studio being there.”

Since State Question 788 was passed, a lot of freedom and opportunities have opened for McCloud, but some things have not changed for him.

“Honestly, I don’t like calling a water pipe a bong because, for me, ‘bong’ is still related to drug paraphernalia. That’s kind of ingrained there,” he said. “This is coming from a business standpoint and ownership standpoint and a personal standpoint, but I sell glass for a lot of guys out of Dallas, guys and gals out of Dallas, so when I come up here and I’m like, ‘Hey, you know, I have this American glass,’ and I go to a dispensary and I’m like, ‘Yeah, would you all be interested in this?’ For them to turn around and say no, you know, and not even look at it simply because of price. Like, do you not understand what these people have been going through strictly to try to support themselves? ... They’re just hustling day in and day out just trying to provide for their families. It’s not like they’re even out just smoking and getting high all day, which is what most people think. It’s a true job for these folks. On one side of it, I understand the price, but on the other side, everybody’s screaming, ‘Buy American! Buy American!’ Here’s an opportunity. I know how much a dispensary makes because I work within one, and when you have an opportunity to buy American, you turn it down and say no. Now that we can do this, can you support some of the people who have been supporting this industry before the way it is now?”

McCloud performs a live glassblowing demonstration at Lucky’s Grow Supply’s 710 celebration July 13. The event is noon-5 p.m. and also features other glass vendors, a giveaway and a cookout sponsored by Schwab Meat Co. Its 710 bus will be parked on the property for on-site consumption by Oklahoma-licensed patients.

“It’s going to be a good time for all. We realize it’s not 710, but you know, we all have poor short-term memory, so maybe we can all forget,” Lucky’s co-owner John Degerness said. 

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