Riding a popular wave: Surf Rat Glass spotlight

This glass is blowing up!


Collegian | Julia Hanselman

Bryan Ratcliffe begins a new piece at Big Z Glass studio Nov. 1. “I really enjoy making glass, so honestly, to be able to do what I like as a job and be able to support myself has been a huge goal,” Ratcliffe said.

Lindsay Barker, Staff Contributor

Since The Collegian’s last article featuring local glassblowers, Bryan Ratcliffe of Surf Rat Glass has blown up.

The Fort Collins-based artist shifted his focus from creating smaller pendants with the theme of a “road trip” to making cannabis-themed drinkware. He makes glasses that look like large bangers and bowls among other drinkware creations.  


“Small things like (pendants) required a posture that was bad for my back, so I knew I had to make a shift, so I shifted to working on a lathe,” Ratcliffe said. “When I was in middle school, I got my first potter’s wheel. A lathe is similar to that but with glass. It has to hold both ends, so making that transition to the lathe felt like home to me.”

“You take something that has a connection with the viewer, and you put your twist on it, so you already have that instant connection with the viewer or consumer.” –Bryan Ratcliffe, Surf Rat glassblower

Ratcliffe produces carefully crafted Instagram reels and TikToks that showcase his drinkware in a creative and engaging way. How did he think of this unique idea?

“I was listening to my audience as well as developing things at the time, and it kind of organically evolved,” Ratcliffe said. “I made a few videos and released the product, and it did really well.”

Ratcliffe currently has more than 80,000 Instagram followers and more than 134,000 TikTok followers with several of his videos reaching more than 1 million views and some even reaching 5 million views.  

“You take something that has a connection with the viewer, and you put your twist on it, so you already have that instant connection with the viewer or consumer,” Ratcliffe said. “What I did that really helps set me apart is I went 100% in on learning how to produce and make the videos.”

Ratcliffe makes his videos with an iPhone 13 Pro and posts them on Instagram and TikTok several times a week. His videos are so well-crafted that the Corning Museum of Glass featured his work in its yearly new glass review.

The Corning Museum of Glass is “the world’s largest space dedicated to the display of contemporary art and design in glass,” according to its website. The video the museum references shows Ratcliffe lighting a marshmallow on fire while making hot chocolate in one of his banger mugs, and a still shot of the video is featured in the museum’s magazine.

“The Corning Museum of Glass picks 100 substantial works in glass that they think were some of the best things produced over the year, so it was really cool to be in that magazine,” Ratcliffe said.

Ratcliffe’s use of social media and the crossover between Instagram and TikTok helped boost his reach substantially. Instagram and TikTok both have strict guidelines surrounding the promotion of cannabis products, so Ratcliffe had to find a way to work around them.

“I made sure to have food and use (cannabis-themed drinkware) with food each time so it was without a doubt a mug,” Ratcliffe said. “That’s a big struggle for a lot of glassworkers, but it’s (TikTok’s) platform, so you just have to play by the rules.”

Ratcliffe’s following has grown substantially over the last year, and his social media accounts continue to grow each day. By thoroughly understanding his audience and the market, Ratcliffe has created a successful and unique glassware business.

“I feel like as a maker, as long as I invest myself into it heavily, I have the possibility to put out some really good videos and stand behind my products,” Ratcliffe said.

Reach Lindsay Barker at cannabis@collegian.com or @lindsaybarkerj.