Oregon-based artist Tony Greenhand makes smokable sculptures of any shape and size — like this dinosaur with a doobie. (Provided by Tony Greenhand)

Finding the legalized zeitgeist with crafty joint-rolling artist Tony Greenhand

Q&A: Artist Tony Greenhand is capturing a pivotal moment in pot culture with his sculpted smokables

There were only two things to do in the rural “podunk” Washington town where an artist who goes by Tony Greenhand is from — farm or craft.

“I chose crafts, even though I was raised on a farm,” Greenhand tells The Cannabist. “I would sit around all day and whittle wood or mold with clay. But then I realized, you can’t really find too many jobs where clay-molding is a good skill to have, you know? There’s not much use for that in my daily life.”

That is, until he began smoking and growing weed.

Greenhand, 26, studied all the unique ways to structure a joint, manipulating the basic “doob tubes” by tucking and twisting the paper in every which way until he wanted to try sculpting the pieces by hand.

“Geometry is really the base of all illustration, right?” Greenhand says. “If you’re going to try to draw a horse, that’s really just some circles and a couple squares. Just applying that to joints through the other shapes that were already available, I learned you can make anything out of a joint.”

He first created a three-dimensional rocket ship and, after, an alligator filled with weed. This amazed his friends, who began requesting custom joint shapes. About three years ago, a friend suggested Greenhand post a photo of a “Sherlock pipe” he had rolled on Reddit, a site Greenhand had never even heard of. In a matter of hours, the photo reached the front page of the site, spawning interest from national weed blogs and magazines, and fans were flooding his inbox with requests for his work.

Since then, Greenhand has become a full-time joint sculptor (he also works as a cannabis seed breeder near Salem, Ore.). His multicolored smokable sculptures have taken the form of a peacock, “Tokey the Bear” and a whopping four-pound watermelon, among many others. According to a profile by The Creators Project, his creations have been smoked by high-profile celebrities like the Cypress Hill crew and auctioned off to charity for more than $1,000.

“Joints are culture for my generation,” Greenhand says.

We recently caught up with Greenhand to hear about some of his new projects and how he deals with the endless (and sometimes ridiculous) requests he gets from celebrities.

Peacock joint for Seattle high times Cannabis cup a few years back #tbt #creativerolling

A photo posted by Smokeable Art (@tonygreenhand) on

The Cannabist: What was it like to gain national recognition for your joints?

Tony Greenhand: It was cool. I have a pretty relaxed life anyways, growing a bunch of weed. When I realized (rolling) was going to become my job and not my hobby, I was almost a little taken aback by it, in the sense that I was afraid it would become ruined. Does that make any sense? … I was almost a little bit hesitant to open up my work to the public because I didn’t want to sell out my idea, I didn’t want to diminish it in any way. … But that wasn’t the case. People would throw me ridiculous offers just so they could smoke it and just to see it made. And that made me realize that people really think what I do is special and they wanna feel special too.

Cannabist: Who are some of your big-name clients? Have you ever had to say no to anyone?

Greenhand: Yeah, just this week Action Bronson asked me to roll for something he’s doing for Viceland. He hit me up on Thursday to be somewhere Saturday, and I had to turn it down because, literally, right before that phone call, I agreed to roll a microphone for B.o.B. and he wants it on fuckin’ Sunday. Also, he wants me to do a livestream for his new music video where I teach him how to roll something. So I have to roll a secondary joint for him. I still have to come up with that — I’m probably gonna make a taco. That’s what he gets.

Cannabist: People are asking so much of you for such a short turnaround time!

Greenhand: Yeah! I only do it if it’s within my limits. … It’s like building a house, when you’re making a big joint. There’s a lot of extra, time-consuming steps that people just don’t take into account — a lot of drying and molding — that really hinders my ability to make joints quickly. But I can, if they’re the right ones. I’m talking about an assembly line of different joints. I’m working on six at a time. I just posted the Prince (symbol) yesterday, should do the dinosaur today and probably a caution sign tomorrow, and just keep hammering them out. Other rolls I have to do this week are a full-sized AK-47 alongside mini AK-47s, a mini pink Range Rover, a World Wrestling Federation belt, low-top Nikes — they specifically asked for low tops!

Artistic joint rolling: Tony Greenhand Prince tribute
A tribute to Prince. (Provided by Tony Greenhand)

Cannabist: When you interact with celebrities, is it mostly just if you have time?

Greenhand: This is something I haven’t told anybody, but I’ll tell you because it’s funny — I treat everybody like a celebrity when they hit me up. … A lot of these (celebrities) are people I’ve never heard of, and it’s just because I’m from the country, I know. I didn’t know who Cam’Ron from Dipset was, and I didn’t know who the Flatbush Zombies were, The Game — literally anybody that I’ve rolled for, I haven’t known this whole time, so I have to look them up. … Because I’m an artist, I feel like I can set the limitations. People come to me and want a joint, and if you’re underage or doing something (illegal), I’d turn you down. If you want my Snapchat dedicated to (your brand), it isn’t gonna happen. Honestly, you can’t even pay me to do that. … I tell everybody this, too: If you come out to Oregon you can just meet me and you can get one right from me. Normally they come to me or they will pay for my flight to come to them and I will do it for them there, and then I will go back home. I don’t like that option. I really try not to do that, I do it for cups and stuff frequently. But I try not to take time out of my schedule.

Cannabist: How do you maintain the credit and integrity of your work?

Greenhand: I’ve been working at this nonstop since I started. If you’re too promotional, people will stop caring. I don’t set up a shop outside of my house or whatever, I don’t even have a website — the only way you can contact me is through direct message (on Instagram or Twitter) or Snapchat (@tonygreenhand). People don’t even know how to get ahold of me for my job and I make a living doing this. There’s a kind of mystery and allure that helps me in establishing myself.

Cannabist: What’s your rate for joints?

Greenhand: It depends on the day and how busy I am. Sometimes I will charge people, and it’s $50 an hour, that’s what my rate is. Now, most days, I don’t charge. If you’re my friend and you come to me and you want a roll, I’ll normally trade you (for the roll). … Let’s say you come to me and you want Mike Tyson eating an avocado. I would love to do that. I would charge just for the materials I’d need to make it. … Any of my largest joints — the four-pounder, the three-pounder, the two-pounder — all of those were free. I didn’t charge anyone to do them because it was fun for me and I broke records while I did it.

Cannabist: What’s on your list of things to trade?

Greenhand: Right now on the list are five blueberry bushes; a bag of pig ears; I need a new pair of sewing scissors; an X-Acto blade. It’s essentially a shopping list and I’ll trade you for rolls. You bring me bacon and I’ll make you a joint, and it’s nowhere near the cost of what you’d want. But I don’t want to go buy bacon. You bring me the bacon I like in particular, and it’s gonna be nice.

Cannabist: Was that Mike Tyson idea a real thing?

Greenhand: Oooh, yeah, I totally wanna roll that! [laughs] Really badly. I mean, can’t you just picture him in boxing gloves, trying to eat an avocado? You can just hear him struggling in your head. He’s hungry …

Cannabist: How’d you even come up with that?

Greenhand: I misheard a friend. I thought they said something about Mike Tyson eating an avocado and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since.

Cannabist: What are your joints made out of? What do you use to fasten them together?

Greenhand: Everything I use is 100 percent smokable — corn husks, plum leaves and banana leaves. I actually paint the paper by hand and let them dry by hand and then I cut them up and apply them to the joint with the right amount of glue without using any excess water so that it will not run. … I went to a factory in the Dominican Republic to talk to cigar makers and found that they used a potato pectin as glue. It’s unrefined, but when you apply it, it’s simply clear paper, paper cellulose. So that’s now what I use — it makes my rolling much simpler. … Finding all the tools and different components was a challenge that took me a couple years. Now I have everything at my disposal, and I can basically do any design in a joint.

Cannabist: Let’s say I live out of state and I’d like to purchase one of your joints. Do you fill it first or could you send it to me hollow?

Greenhand: Depending on what you wanted, I could do it a number of ways. Most people don’t want to go the hollow route because they’re afraid they’re gonna break it when they fill it. If I fill it with tobacco it’s even worse, because you’d have to empty it and then fill it. I try to explain that to people and then they’re like, “Well, can’t you just send it full (of weed)?” and then I gotta be like, “No, I can’t ship (weed),” and then the people get all offended. I wish the laws were just so easy that I could send a joint to someone anywhere so they can enjoy it. Makes sense to me.

Cannabist: What are your inspirations?

Greenhand: I draw a lot of my inspiration from my fans, just because people on Instagram will follow me or comment, then I’ll go check out who they are. They often are artists themselves who have a unique talent and they want to connect with people with unique talents. I follow someone named Haroshi who makes sculptures out of old skateboard decks. But they’re not regular sculptures. They’re massive, insane works of art. He’s making one of this guy riding a fuckin’ galloping horse right now and it’s out of this world. And it’s bigger than life-size. It’s huge!

Finding people who have specialized work like that really helps me to advance my work because I can take their style of art and apply it to my style of art. The same is true, I feel like, from my art to their art, which is why they follow me. There’s a big web of artisans in the online community and being able to see all of them has been my greatest influence.

Cannabist: Which types of charities do you typically auction off your joints for?

Greenhand: I did an auction for a Spider-Man joint that was 12 grams and sold for $1,100 for a family, for a kid named Tres Johnson, and he has a really rare condition. He’s the only human alive with diprosopus, where your face is split in two. It’s fucking terrible. He has somewhere around 300 seizures a day, and cannabis is the only thing that helps him. He’s 11 and he wasn’t even supposed to live past a few months. But thanks to cannabis helping with his seizures, he’s able to function. I did the auction for him. I had to make, like, a network of people to deliver the joint and make it available through multiple states. … It’s really hard to put it all together when you’re doing charity joints because of the legalities of selling joints — even for charities, people are still uptight about it.

Cannabist: How do you feel your sculptures fit into the art world?

Greenhand: My generation doesn’t understand how to look at a painting. It doesn’t understand how to enjoy a sculpture. My generation is worried about “Pullin’ up and squadin’ out” or whatever. So to have this reach to those people is what matters to me. This is our culture. The more it develops and the more people my age get into it, it just makes it more accepted and more mainstream, which is what I want. I would love for our generation to have that realization that there’s more to everything.

Artistic joints: Tony Greenhand ice cream joint
A dainty ice cream cone joint. (Provided by Tony Greenhand)