Apr 292012
 
A pile of Crystal Delights glass butt plugs sparkling in the sun - taken in the vendor room at MomentumCon 2012

There are two sex toy materials that seem to scare the uninitiated: Glass and wood1. It is ironic considering that the material you should be the most scared of is the one 50% of customers purchase willingly and gleefully. But glass is strong, non-porous, is not made with chemicals and is compatible with every type of lube.

The World of Glass Sex Toys

The glass we use is Borosilicate glass (often known as the trade name “Pyrex”). A 1-inch rod of Pyrex glass requires more than 3000 pounds of pressure to snap in half and has a crush strength of over 8 tons. Our glass pieces, after being formed initially,  are put back into the kiln and “annealed” (heated) almost back to melting point. This gives each piece its final smoothness and brings the glass back to its full strength because all the parts have been completely fused together into a single solid work of art.  This adds hours of extra time to the process and is one of the first places that will be scrimped on with the much less expensive glass products.  Knowing where the glass comes from is really important to help you understand that every piece you receive is a unique handmade piece of art crafted lovingly just for you!

Shellie, owner of Crystal Delights glass dildos and plugs

Not all glass sex toys are created equal, however. I’ve certainly been disappointed in quality issues with glass dildos I’ve received (the most obvious being the ugly one) – mainly because despite the “hand-blown” buzz word, the toys were mass-produced and failed to look like the photos provided. When you buy a glass sex toy you absolutely must be prepared to receive something that is not a perfect replica down to the millimeter of the photos and specs on the retail site you’re purchasing from. But yet too much of an anomaly leads to surprises of the bad kind, disappointments, and sometimes leaves you with a sex toy you have no desire to use. I’ve owned glass dildos from Pipedreams, Joyful Pleasures, Dream Toys and SSA Glass. Joyful Pleasures was probably the best out of those but it still was a let down due to the size difference from their stats to what I actually received. The SSA Glass dildos were all huge disappointments in all aspects: quality, design and consistency. But then again the saying “you get what you pay for” is true; SSA Glass is cheap and it shows. The cheaper glass sex toys still won’t break during sexual use but they might chip more easily. They certainly won’t have the artistic beauty and careful construction like truly hand-made glass toys will.

One thing that all of the above sex toy manufacturers have in common is that their glass dildos are produced in a large plant in China. This isn’t necessarily a death sentence but it depends on how involved the manufacturer is in their quality control – I’ve dealt with companies who manufacture in China and they turn out quality products that are consistent. But what if you knew that your sex toy was made locally by a skilled artisan and that it passed through only a few hands before arriving on your doorstep?

Crystal Delights – Small Manufacturer of High-Quality Glass Sex Toys

Crystal Delights Twist dildos and anal plugs Crystal Delights display case - glass dildos, glass plugs, a bunny tail and more One of the many unique Crystal Delights "vintage" series, made from antique buttons, medallions, etc. This one is mine!!

I have talked with Shellie, the owner, a few times about sex toy businesses and her glass sex toys. Talking to her always reinforces why we should make the effort to choose small sex toy companies over the Founding 5. Shellie designs the toys, inspects them and packages them up for shipment herself. You’ll never receive a plug or dildo or paddle that she hasn’t personally looked over to make sure it meets her standards. She uses just one local glass blower who is very adept at creating consistently high quality items. While you still see minor differences in size because there is no mold to fill, you can also do something with Shellie that you can’t do with larger companies: Talk to her. I know, it’s a novel idea! But let’s say that you’re eying up her small glass butt plug and you’re still really new to anal plugs. You might feel a little nervous about the size and wish that it was a little smaller. All you have to do is email Shellie and tell her that you’d like a plug that runs a little under the normal specs. If you’d like to go even further you can contact her to make a custom piece!

I have my own glass plug2 courtesy of Shellie and I’ve seen all of her stuff in person a few times. The vintage plugs, the Swarovski crystal plugs and dildos, the glass paddles, the tail plugs – it is all, without a doubt, the most stunning and sparkly glass sex toy collection I’ve ever seen. Not one piece looked weird or wonky. In fact, I don’t think I’ve even read a bad review on her stuff.

A pile of Crystal Delights glass butt plugs sparkling in the sun - taken in the vendor room at MomentumCon 2012

Image courtesy of Crystal Delights

I asked Shellie a few questions because I’m a Sex Toy Geek!

How do you come up with your designs?

The basic design is the easy part!  You can get inspiration from almost anything, it can be the color, the shape, the attachment (crystal, medallion, tail) or even a customer request, can I have this but bend it this way or add a bump here, shorter, longer, you get the point.  But that really is the beauty of glass, it is very adaptable!

Do you do a lot of testing and revamping the designs before you list them?

That is a difficult question, sometimes things just come together and its fast and perfect right off the bat, but other times it takes months to get it just right, there is testing here before it goes out to my “product testers” and then feedback from them before it is ready to launch.  What I think is a brilliant idea sometimes isn’t!

What sort of “quality control” things do you do that a large manufacturer overseas wouldn’t do?

This is one of the things that I love about glass manufacturing, I touch and look at every piece of glass that goes out the door to a customer. And I am the second line that has done that, because the glass blower has already looked at it as well.  We want to be able to take those extra steps to make sure we are giving you the best possible product for your money.  We know that you have many choices and we want you to be glad you picked us for your business.   I try to be available as much as possible via social media, email, even phone to help with anything that might come up, we want you to know we take customer service, and our products seriously.

Can you work with people to create a custom design or size?

We can and do!  I have several custom pieces out there already and I often contact people when I get a special tail, or medallion in that I think they would love.  Again that is part of what is special about handmade glass from a small company; I like to know my customers and what they want and ,if there is any way possible, get it to them.  That isn’t a possibility from the big box manufacturers importing from China.

Glass Sex Toy Pros, Cons and Myths

  • Pro: Glass is non-porous and free of any chemicals that might be harmful
  • Pro: Glass is compatible with any type of lube
  • Pro: Glass is easy to clean (depending on the design, of course as some more elaborate designs can require more than just a rinse to get in the crevices) and can be sterilized in boiling water or the top rack of your dishwasher. Check with the manufacturer, though, before subjecting it to high heat.
  • Myth: Glass sex toys will break during use – I don’t know what people think when they think of glass sex toys but the truth is that they’re made out of a very sturdy and solid glass (borosilicate) that is resistant to cracks and damage. This isn’t like your grandmother’s antique glassware or anything. 98% of glass sex toys are solid, not hollow3.
  • Myth: Glass sex toys will cut/injure you – Unless you managed to chip it, that’s simply impossible. Before you use your glass sex toys you should always inspect them for damage. While they are difficult to damage with normal use, it’s still possible to accidentally drop it on the wrong surface at the wrong angle and incur damage. 
  • Pro: Glass is a natural and reusable material. Have a glass toy that chipped? Safely smash it up to bits and use it in a mosaic somewhere; otherwise try to locate a recycler who takes this type of glass (Just ask if they recycle Pyrex-type glass).
  • Con: Glass is very sensitive to temperature – great for temperature play if you do it correctly (warm or cool water only) but you must be careful! You know what happens when you stick out your tongue and lick a frozen lamp pole, right? Yeah. Don’t ever freeze your sex toys for sadistic play. Don’t dunk them in boiling water for cleaning without donning silicone oven mitts or having another safe method of retrieval.
  • Con: One chip and you’re done for. Yes, it can chip. It’s not something that happens easily and I’m not saying that you should only use glass sex toys in a padded room but do be careful. When you’re boiling it for cleaning, have a tea towel in the pot to protect surfaces and only do one sex toy at a time. Dishwashers are fine. I’d caution clumsy people against using a glass dildo if you’re in a room full of concrete or ceramic surfaces (in case you drop it).
  • Pro: You won’t need as much lube for a clear glass (i.e. non-frosted) sex toy
  • Pro: Can double as art! I’ve seen some stunning pieces that could easily sit in a china cabinet. Of course you should only do this if you’re prepared for the “Ohhh that’s pretty…..what is it?” question.

 

Steele Malone Glass "Dilettos"/Dildos

Image Courtesy of Steele Malone, manufacturers of artistic glass dilettos

Just like with any other sex toy, you should be mindful of which glass sex toy manufacturers you entrust. Not all glass toys are made from damage-resistant heat-resistant borosilicate and not all borosilicate glass toys are annealed for extra strength! This is why I personally  recommend Crystal Delights and other small manufacturers like Simply Blown and Steele Malone who all use glass-blowers and keep things simple and local4. I’ve also seen some very unique glass sex toys on Etsy which are made by glass artisans and can range from the mundane been-there-done-that to beautiful, original works of art.

Do you have any more questions on glass sex toys? Ask and I will get the answers!

Already familiar with the joys and beauty of glass? Tell me in comments what your most favorite pieces are!

  1. If I had a dollar for every time I saw a comment about Nobessence or Hans wooden dildos saying something along the lines of “I’d be scared of splinters!!” I’d be a somewhat rich woman. Still annoyed as hell, but at least rich and annoyed
  2. It’s fucking gorgeous, I love so many of her vintage ones but this one spoke to me, you can see it here
  3. Actually I’ve only seen one hollow glass dildo and it was made by Don Wands. It was hollow because they painted the design on the inside. This left a small hole in the dildo where the miniscule brush went in and during use small amounts of body fluid and lube would get in. During cleaning, water would get in. It also resulted in a dildo that left a lot of people feeling nervous about its strength
  4. I’ve never seen or tried out a Simply Blown or Steele Malone dildo, though, they’re not common at online stores and they’re too pricey for me to buy!
  • http://barkingshaman.com Wintersong

    I’ve been super impressed with the quality of Crystal Delights’ toys, and like you said, being able to actually *talk* to the owner is a rare benefit. My only complaint is that at the moment they don’t offer a plain model of their popular butt plug, without the pretty sparkly something on the bottom. I asked about it, and was told that they don’t see any market in making them without the fancy decoration, but I can think of gay men I know who’d *jump* at one (especially the smoked glass model) if it was less frilly.

  • Serafina Brightside

    Super awesome post!

  • B

    Just wanted to thank you for posting about these amazing glass toys. My Master has purchased me a Crystal Delights plug and the Gold Fumed Paddle. These were my first glass pieces in my toy collection. I was hooked when I got the plug. Boy did I lose it when I got the paddle. I, hands down, 100% recommend that paddle for more than just a good spanking. You were part of the reason he chose this product so for that I thank you.

  • Summer

    Stumbled across your blog yet again when googling for more information about Joyful Pleasures. I like the price point, but I figured it was too good to be true. Thanks for confirming!

  • http://www.Septimusreviews.blogspot.com Septimus

    I got my first glass toy several months ago after reading about the benefits on several different web-sites. I have to say, I was not disappointed! It has quickly become one of my favorite dildos, and I can’t wait to add more glass to my collection.
    I really need to start saving up for something from Crystal Delights, because they’re all so gorgeous!