Gatorbeug creates fully functional ceramic bongs that stand up equally as art. Riffing on memes and pop culture, the bongs are handmade from cast earthenware by Byron Bay-based designer Tom Mason who has so far immortalised Australian icons like Shannon Noll and Shane Warne in bong form.
The 'Speed Dealer Warnie' comes complete with oil-slick sunglasses and a gold Nike tick earring, while 'Nollsy'—released today to coincide with 420 day—pays tribute to the infamous Australian Idol runner-up. There's also a shaved-head 'Crazy Britney' bong capturing the pop star's 2007 meltdown, a made-to-order Otto bong, and—a new addition to the lineup—a Donald Trump bong. The signature piece, though, is the namesake 'Gatorbeug'; a shining metallic tribute to the humble homemade Gatorade bong. As their product descriptions point out, these items would look just as at home displayed on a bookshelf as they would being put to use.
Tom comes from an art background, having exhibited work, as well as directing galleries and working as a designer. "There's always a lot of trial and error and I've spent more money on art materials than I'm likely to see return. I also get bored easily and work constantly," he tells The Creators Project, explaining that he watches YouTube videos to learn new skills. "We're happy with the results, but there's still a lot of room for improvement," he says, adding that they'll soon be making a glass mould-blown Gatoradge bong in collaboration with industrial designer Andrew Simpson from Vert Design.
Digital media and the internet provide a huge well of inspiration for coming up with the bong designs. In Tom's words, "Memes are fun, and people respond to them really positively." So who is he going to turn into a bong next? "I don't know—Dame Edna, Lleyton Hewitt, Nick Kyrgios?" Bong on.