Denver-based artist Kinsey Zaïre's new pet project is an avian-themed line of ceramic pipes. (Erika Astrid photo, provided by Kinsey Zaïre Studio)

Shop Sesh: Artist Kinsey Zaïre hopes ‘perfect little pipe’ design takes off

About Shop Sesh: Every month (or so), I’ll visit the curators, artists, builders and designers who enjoy a little kush to help them push their creative boundaries. It just so happens they’re all also doing pretty impressive things to cultivate the arts community in Colorado and beyond. We’ll have a smoke and a chat in the spaces that often inspire them most — their own. If you’d like to request a sesh or have one to recommend, e-mail me here.

Shop: Kinsey Zaïre Studio

Interview with: Kinsey Zaïre, Artist

Smoke for the sesh: OG18, Denver Relief

Denver artist Kinsey Zaïre has crafted a sparrow pipe for her line dubbed "Glazed." (Provided by Kinsey Zaïre Studio)
A sparrow pipe is the featured piece in Kinsey Zaïre’s ceramics line “Glazed.” (Provided by Kinsey Zaïre Studio)

Kinsey Zaïre is one of those people who is effortlessly just cool. The Denver-based artist has lived in New York City and London, patrols the Denver Art Museum as a part-time security guard and has appeared on stage at South By Southwest. Now Zaïre, 30, is adding another gig to the list: pipe maker. Frustrated by the stereotypical unsightly paraphernalia business, she decided to “put a bird on it” with a soon-to-be launched line called “Glazed.” Zaïre handcrafts each ceramic slip-cast pipe in the shape of a petite sparrow with a bowl on its back and an eye for a carb. With only three little birds left, she was hoping to raise $3,500 through crowdsourcing to help expand production and make them available online and in local shops like Fancy Tiger Clothing. However, Kickstarter’s administrators didn’t approve her campaign due to their restrictions on projects related to tobacco and paraphernalia. So she’s hatching a Plan B to start taking pre-sales on her website to cover costs in advance. Until then, you can follow her on Instagram and Twitter for updates. I stopped by her whimsical home studio in the Baker neighborhood to try one of these pretty pipes in person.

Cannabist: You work across a lot of mediums. What is your favorite?

KZ: Depends on the time of day? I’m so liberal with the word “favorite” it hardly means anything to me anymore. I’m predominantly a painter, but I work in textiles, ceramics, woodwork, cosmetics, photography and my own human form. I want to do it all.

Cannabist: Where do you draw inspiration for your work?

KZ: It comes from all over the place, all the time. Pop culture, nature, the Internet, light, weed, sex, technology, glitter … you name it. I notice a lot too when I’m at work at the DAM (Denver Art Museum) … it’s just dripping with weird little ancient clay figurines, historical textiles, “dancey” video installations and nipples. Lots of nipples.

Cannabist: What was your first experience with marijuana?

KZ: I wasn’t very social as a teenager and had a pretty sheltered upbringing. Creative, but sheltered. I was visiting Denver before moving to London and went to a party where people were smoking grass. I had never inhaled anything before, so I bummed a cigarette and walked around Capitol Hill practicing. I went back into the party, smoked, and was immediately taken aback that I had never experienced this feeling before. All my anxiety melted away. It was pretty profound for me.

Cannabist: How old were you?

KZ: I was 21.

Cannabist: How does marijuana influence your creative process now?

KZ: It allows me to go into full-tilt daydream mode.

Favorite strains: 25 ranked reviews from our marijuana critics

Cannabist: Back to your favorite word “favorite.” What do you like to smoke?

KZ: As far as strains go, I don’t discriminate. I ask for whatever is the strongest and I like seeing what roads budtenders take me down. It’s like having a really great server at a restaurant at dispensaries now. Even the strongest indica doesn’t knock me on my ass. Nothing melts me anymore, so it all allows me to multitask no matter the strain. I’m into discovery. I go to Denver Relief on South Broadway because it’s closest to home.

Cannabist: Do you drink?

KZ: Yes, but I’m a lightweight. My fella is a wine and booze buyer at Divino on South Broadway, so I’m privileged to drink badass wine and bourbon without having to know much about it. Like I said, I’m into discovery.

Cannabist: So, let’s talk about “Glazed.” How did you decide to delve into piece-making?

KZ: Earlier this year, I was sitting around getting high one day and the bowl I was smoking out of was hideous. That’s when I decided to make the perfect little pipe. I carved my stoned version of a bird out of a bar of soap with a butter knife and toothpick. Then I sent it to a ceramicist, had a mold made and the rest is history.

Learn more about slip-casting ceramics, the challenges of crowdsourcing and legal marijuana, and Kinsey Zaïre’s thoughts on Denver’s art scene.