Artist Rolls $1,100 Joints and a Massive, Smokeable Watermelon
Tony Greenhand traveled to the Dominican Republic to perfect the technique and technology of rolling "smokeable art."
A joint shaped like a 40 oz bottle of Olde English malt liquor. Images courtesy Tony Greenhand
My college roomate once told me that blunt rolling is an art, referring to the practice of packing 'em tight and sealing 'em right, making sure they hold together all the way down through the roach. But he had never heard of Tony Greenhand, who describes his work on Instagram as "Smokeable Art"—which it is, honest to goodness. One of his joints looks just like a hammerhead shark. Another is a realistic replica of his dog. He's made a smokeable "Tokey the Bear," the blue shell from Mario, a joint in the shape of a pot leaf, and a replica of an AK-47 filled with pot. I kid you not, he made a replica of the Seattle Space Needle that you can smoke.
When I saw Greenhand's Instagram account, I immediately had to learn how he does it. I called him up and was blown away by his business savvy, and the effort and knowledge that goes into each of his works of art. At age 26, he's spent nearly a decade perfecting the art of the roll, but started doing it for a living after his work blew up on Reddit two years previous. On the advice of a friend, he posted pictures of a joint in the shape of a Sherlock Holmes pipe to r/trees, and "it blew people away. I'm posted everywhere on the internet in the space of 24 hours. And from that day, literally, it became a full-time job," he tells The Creators Project.
People commission custom joints and blunts, even requesting mail-order rolls filled with tobacco, which can fetch anywhere from $30 for a hollow woven blunt that can be made in half an hour, to a freehand sculpted Spider-Man joint that was auctioned off for charity at $1,100. His personal projects are larger in scale, but are done more for the prestige, competition, and thrill of the roll than the dough.
Greenhand has been creative since he was a kid, painting, molding clay, and drawing with surplus art supplies gleaned from his mother, who traveled the school district as an art docent. Combined with the free time he had growing up on a farm in rural Washington, making stuff was his highest pleasure. His mom was an art teacher and his father owned a farm, and now he grows and sculpts weed. With the growing public acceptance of pot consumption, Greenhand's profession seems a natural outgrowth of his circumstances. "This isn't weed culture, it's just culture," he says. "This isn't weed art, it's just art."
The past few years have been spent finding the best ingredients and most effective rolling techniques on the internet. Since blunt rolling became his full time job, Greenhand has been experimenting with corn husks, plum leaves, and banana leaves as cheap, natural papers, and developing safe-to-smoke pigments. But the real innovation is in the glue department. Greenhand made a helpful how-to video about rolling a cubic joint by cutting of the adhesive strips from rolling papers to seal up the corners, which is the technique he teaches to friends. His own work requires stronger stuff: "Cigar manufacturers use a powdered pectin from potatoes, which is what I use now. I traveled down to the Dominican Republic and Puerto Rico and talked to a bunch of professional cigar makers because I knew they had something good from taking apart their cigars. A man named Clay tipped me off to the potato powder, and I've used it ever since."
He uses the smokeable glue to sculpt paper like clay. One of his favorite pieces made possible with this technique is a working blunt pistol that shoots joint bullets. This model is lung-powered, but he's currently working on a version of the AK-47 powered by compressed air, able to shoot grass bullets at lightning speed.
At this point in our conversation, I wonder aloud where ideas like this even come from. "I'm a little hard of hearing," he says, which leads to a lot of the highdeas that manifest in his work. "The other day someone said something and I heard, 'Mike Tyson eating an avocado.' Then I decided I had to roll that." He also takes requests from friends, fans, and of course, those commissioning his work
Greenhand is the definition of an outsider artist, with no formal training but clear vision and skill developed over time. He sees his work as indistinct from the rest of the art world. "It's culture for my generation, this artwork," he says. "It allows people to really appreciate artwork. I don't understand my generation, but they don't want to go to a museum and look at art. They'd rather grab a dragon blunt and appreciate that."
Greenhand's contact with the art world at large has been less than pleasant. One Los Angeles gallery asked to display his work once, but he has become protective that piece was crushed in the process. "It's only fun if someone smokes them," Greenhand says. "I intend to smoke all of them!"
Similarly, his joints have found their way to the likes of Snoop Dogg and other celebrity weed advovates, but Greenhand only deals with those who appreciate his work—which apparently doesn't include the D-O-Double-G. "I have friends who are in the Dogg Pound," explains. Through friends-of-friends like these, the occasional high profile marijuana user will request a custom joint. "I'll send one to them, and then they'll give me feedback. They'll either request another one or they'll credit me when they post my work online, or otherwise appreciate me. But [with Snoop Dogg's joint], I saw nothing."
He adds, "Here's an example of somebody appreciating my work. B-Real of Cypress Hill seriously loves my stuff. When I'm in LA I'll visit his studio and we'll talk for hours. That's what I look for, people who really enjoy my work. And if they happen to be well-known, that's cool, too."
The burning question at the end of this joint is, "What is the artist who rolls blunts for a living doing to celebrate 4/20?" Lucky for you, he's already underwent his celebrations because, he explains, "It was too intense for a Wednesday." Together with his friends at CO2 Company, Greenhand constructed and smoked what he says is the world's largest joint, a whopping 4.2 pounds of green painted like a watermeon. It's bold to claim that your joint is the biggest in the world, but Greenhand assures us that his is king.
"I've been doing this for eight years," he says. "I've been keeping track of everybody else in the world who does it because I want to know what's out there. I spent a whole year studying every forum people were putting this stuff online. There was a three-pound joint rolled at Hippie Hill, but it was confiscated by the cops. It's important to note that one video on YouTube purports to depict a 10lb joint being smoked on Hippie Hill, a stoner-friendly locale where Greenhand says he once helped roll and smoke a then-record-breaking three-pound joint. However, this figure is unverified, as is whether or not it was smoked to completion due to police interference. The weight of Greenhands' joint is confirmed, as is it's completion, verified by this picture of him roasting marshmallows over its embers. "Guinness won't take drug-related records," Greenhand bemoans. Thus, this is as close as we can get to confirming the world's biggest joint. Watch a video of Greenhand smoking it below.
Right now, Greenhand is hard at work finishing a feast of new orders before the high holiday, including a Rasta kiwi man, a hot dog with relish, an ice cream cone, and a bell pepper and pepperoni pizza. Look for those and more on his Instagram feed, Twitter, Periscope, Vine, and Snapchat, @TonyGreenhand.
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