Tony Greenhand is successful enough to be selective. Over the course of the past decade, the Oregon native has proven himself an absolutely peerless joint roller—a generational talent who can whip up smokable versions of everything from Marge Simpson to a 4.2-pound watermelon. His creations are lusted after on social media, and sometimes go for tens of thousands of dollars a pop to fans with plenty of money to (quite literally) burn.
While he could easily rest on his laurels, or at least slap his name on some rolling papers and cash in, Greenhand clearly prioritizes upping his already considerable skills.
Case in point: When I called him at his home on a recent Sunday, he was putting the finishing touches on this Tampa Bay Buccaneers hat for a fan who wanted to belatedly celebrate his team’s Super Bowl victory. “For this one, I was really interested in the dynamic of rolling a ball cap, so I only charged him $500,” Greenhand said. “That’s my whole work philosophy.” In the end, he put about 15 hours into engineering the thing, and the attention to detail showed. Maybe an hour after we spoke, a photo of the finished product had racked up nearly 10,000 likes on Instagram. I spoke to Tony about how he became the internet's preeminent joint sculptor—and what tools he uses to get the job done.
VICE: Hey, Tony. How’d you get started making these smokable art pieces? Did you learn from a mentor?
When I was young, I used to work with clay and wood and stuff, and then I started growing a lot of weed. It became sort of impractical to keep doing the other stuff, but I really liked to be creative. So I noticed there were a couple of books on how to do cross joints and windmills and stuff like that. I did a few of those for my friends, and they really liked them, so I kept wanting to try new things. I tried a rocket ship and people loved it, so I started doing animals. My first commission was a Sherlock Holmes pipe. One of my friends convinced me to post online because people on Reddit would love it, and it blew up from there. It wasn’t something that someone taught me how to do, but people’s suggestions of what to try really helped, too.
Your real name is Richard. How’d you get Tony Greenhand from that?
When I was younger, my friends used to say that I looked like a young Tony Danza, so people would call me Tony. And then on weed forums, you didn’t use your real name. It was illegal and there was weirdness around it. My mom’s a cop, too. I didn’t like “greenthumbs,” but I thought “greenhand” was perfect. Now everyone calls me Tony, except for my dad. Even my girlfriend.
What’s the trick to making sure these joints are smokable if you can’t test them?
Tony Greenhand: It took a long time to figure out what worked and what didn’t. For instance, this ball cap [joint] is what would be referred to as a tulip joint. Tulip joints are basically large cones that burn in a very circular way. So I knew that if I lit this ball cap where the snap would be on a snapback, that would allow someone to smoke it to completion down to the bill. The bill isn’t weed. It’s basically a filter down the center, and non-functional filters all down the side, to create a very rigid surface.
Besides the Super Bowl, what occasions do people celebrate with a Tony Greenhand original?
So COVID kind of made it hard to order from me for a long time, and I only started accepting orders again recently due to people getting vaccines. But usually birthdays, special events, weddings. It could also be people wanting to take a trip out to where I am in LA and take a vacation. For a long time I would fly to other people as well, but with COVID, that just became impractical.
To get something from me right now, you have to come to me. That’s how you get a good price, too. You don’t have to put me up in a hotel in, like, Guam. I’ve had a lot of good trips, though. People are normally friendly, because I’m the joint guy.
It didn’t occur to me that these probably can’t be delivered in the mail for a variety of reasons.
Right. So normally I would have the customer provide the weed, because I don’t want to sell weed. It’s kind of a catch-22. They want to come to me to buy the joint, but they have to get weed. At the same time, I want to make sure they have a joint that they really enjoy. I might have Blue Dream, and they hate it and don’t even want to take a puff of it. I do have hemp for people who just want my art, and I will mail that sometimes. But that’s the only time that I will actually go so far as to supply the flower.
I heard you mandate that people smoke your pieces rather than display them, but how do you mandate that?
I used to do that, because I was insistent on people enjoying my art. But as time’s gone on, I realized that people just enjoy it as it is, so I don’t really enforce that anymore. Now also it’s gotten to the point where people have smoked enough of them to know that they work and are a real thing. Before people would think they were like a toy. Now I don’t mind if people keep them. It’s flattering to be honest.
For all the wannabe greenhands out there, we asked Tony for some info about what goes into (or, more accurately, around) his world-famous joints. His work station is pretty basic—he eschews his perfectly fine desk for the horseshoe-shaped, marble countertop in his kitchen—but he is very particular about what and how he smokes.
Get that (FDA-certified) paper
Greenhand says he avoids anything made of homogenized tobacco leaf, “on the off chance that there’s some kind of wood in there that shouldn’t be.” Pretty vague, but we are not ones to question the GOAT’s expertise. So be like Tony and grab something FDA certified for your 4/20 celebration, like His current go-to is a two-to-three gram blunt made from San Andres wrappers, but these Grabba ones will do the trick, too.
Chop it up
The ulu is Greenhand’s blade of choice for chopping up tobacco and other natural leaves that he either buys or grows in his garden. These knives were invented thousands of years ago by the native people of Alaska and were designed to not need sharpening for long periods of time. This one with a sturdy wooden handle would make a handsome addition to any home, and also has the power to slice through the frozen pizza you’ll make when you’re stoned.
Finally, you can be the kid who eats glue
Most tobacco glue comes premixed—the powdered version is hard to find. This is the only brand Greenhand uses, because every product he makes is unique, and he needs to be able to control the consistency of his adhesive.
Bill a bong
Although he’s known for his joints, Greenhand doesn’t say no to the occasional bong hit. His old standby just broke, and he’s used that as an excuse for an upgrade. He went with an older piece by glassblower Kevin Murray, who’s just as nerdy as he is about smoking. Murray is known as a master of the so-called fillacello technique, in which the artist draws fine lines and fills them in so that the final product looks like stained glass. Soon to arrive in Greenhand’s mailbox is a little guy made of rainbow glass that he calls “simple but also heady.” Daily High Club offers some colorful glass water pipes that we’d also like to leave out on our coffee tables.
Or, we prefer something that might blend into the background a bit more. Something a little like these Memphis Milano-esque stone pipes from Tetra.
The next best way to keep your hands busy
Tony’s got a lot of projects coming down the pipeline, including a series of NFTs based off the original Pokémon. But when he’s focusing his creative energies on smokable art (or videos of it), he’s messing around with this 3D pen he picked up during quarantine. “You can literally print air,” he said. “It’s weird that it’s so cheap. It’s worth 10 times that.”
The Rec Room staff independently selected all of the stuff featured in this story.