A Toad for Tokes, A Frog for Fat Rips

The Frong water pipe is more than a one-hit wonder.
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Frongs are great not only for their practical purpose, but as quirky decorative pieces.

PHOTOGRAPH BY HATUSE

While sorting through the items at an estate sale barn in Batavia, Carly Cantor came upon a plaster mold for a hippie-era knickknack: a decorative ceramic frog. Eureka! She thought. This would be a great bong.

As a ceramicist, Cantor is always on the hunt for vintage molds. She’s also a believer in the medicinal benefits of marijuana but doesn’t love a lot of the paraphernalia used to consume it—specifically, masculine-looking glass pipes.

“I feel deeply about ceramics,” she says. “Especially slip-casting, which is a dying art in this country.” The process involves liquid clay poured into plaster molds to make hollow objects, which can be thin and lightweight.

In 2021, Cantor gave the 6-inch by 4-inch frog a high-tech makeover. She 3D-modeled her own mold, giving it a hole for a strainer attached to a cylinder, and relocated the mold’s sprue. The Frong was born, a marriage of what she calls “ingenuity and absurdity, functional sculpture and holistic health.”

The whimsical water pipes, fired in a small Northside studio, quickly leapfrogged into the wide world of weed. They made a splash just when the stigma over pot was waning, but the availability of feminine-looking paraphernalia, Cantor says, was scant. Her charming Frongs, with shiny, candy-like glazes—pastel colors, a cow print, a cloud print—are targeted to a demographic dubbed “girls, gays, and theys.”

The $148 bong embodies the aesthetic trend for all things mystical and fairy-like, but it’s got solid science behind it, thanks to Cantor’s degree from UC’s College of Design, Architecture, Art, and Planning. “Ceramic has higher tensile strength than glass, so if you drop the pipe, it will hold up better,” says Cantor, adding, “It’s also better at wicking heat away from the smoke.”

The 29-year-old Cantor baked as much online marketing as clay into the Frong. (This is a woman who published a blog about nails at age 14.) Her company, Contraband, which makes pipes in other shapes, too, has a combined following on Instagram and TikTok topping 126,000. Her most viral video to date happened in January, garnering over 7 million views.

In the works are collabs with influencers and local businesses for other functional designs, such as dinnerware. “A lot of my designs are camp and surreal,” Cantor says. “A lot of people don’t know what they’re looking at, and I love that.”

Frongs are sold at Fleurish Grounds in Madisonville and at shopcontraband.com.

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