So what makes a creative roll? It’s a matter of some contention among National Joint League (NJL) members and audiences alike. In trying to be all inclusive, the need for special exhibition matches have arisen to draw attention to more particular talents in joint rolling ability. Still, some match ups can be controversial because the wildly different techniques used are hardly comparable. Occasionally we’ve seen people develop skills so unique that they need recognition in their own category. It’s worth establishing a glossary of a few technical concepts before we dive too deep into any creative rolling discussion.
Trick rolls are to creative rolling like porn is to Hollywood; a simple thing most people can do with what’s available to them in their bedroom. The two most prominent examples are cross-joints and dutch tulips; though experienced stoners will also swear by reverse rolls and plumbers joints. Your local headshop probably has a how-to book on these that has been collecting dust since they were posted online. Your friends will be impressed with the truth about a trick roll: that they all kind of come out the same; there isn’t enough variety to suggest a creative process. Nonetheless, the skillset required to do just about any trick roll precedes that required for creative rolling and most NJL rollers start their career mastering every trick roll they can; and it’s not uncommon to see us do a blunt pipe or timebomb faceoff now and again.
Exactly what it sounds like; weaving basket making with rolling papers. It’s a tedious and time consuming process, but the results can be quite visually satisfying. The most popular form of weave used to be done with blunts and Shine papers, though this style quickly became a bit of a trick-roll since Shine developed a machine to do it themselves. Since then, rollers have largely kept the weave alive and shown its creative potential by using several different colours of paper and incorporating new geometry into their designs.
Tips (also filters, crutches) are those little things you put at the end of the joint to prevent weed from pulling through. You can make little one line drawings out of them by carefully bending your angles and twisting your curves. This has actually increased in popularity a bit since paper companies started releasing hemp tips. Commercial tips were less refined and allowed much more pliability than any pizza box or business card before them. It used to be a cool trick to be able to flip your initials in cardstock, nowadays anything is possible.
Bowl art is an interesting asterisk in the creative rolling community because it’s really only @potpor.ntv who does it. Not that the rest of us haven’t tried, it’s actually just really hard to do. And the mandala-like effects potporn manages to create speak for his inclusion as an honourary league member.
Freehand Rolls and Molds
The biggest debate among NJL rollers is between Freehand rolling and Molding. As a freehand roller myself, I probably come at this with more than a little bit of bias. Freehand rolling usually involves wrapping papers or blunts around cannabis. Molding on the other hand it more of a paper-mache style; wrapping an object with blunt papers and then filling it with cannabis afterward. Molding results in a smokable, 1:1 model of the original figure, and is impressive in its own right. Freehand rolling rarely meets such a level of detail and often results in cartoonier and more obviously joint-like figures. While each has a place in the NJL some argue that competing the two against each other is unfair because of the advantage a 1:1 model can have over a handcraft process.
Plumbing, Skewering, and Airflow
As a creative roller, the two questions I get asked most often are “You can smoke that?” and “What are those sticks for?”. Well, one question answers the other, the sticks are for airflow, so the joint will smoke. You remember that time you tried to roll a cross-joint and you couldn’t get it to smoke from the sides? You could have fixed that by plumbing or skewering it with sticks. Plumbing is when you roll around a stick to create an air passage for smoke to travel through. Skewering is when you jam a stick through your joint at the end to a similar effect. Both are useful and on larger joints essential to not only make sure there is a clear air passage for smoke to travel through but also to help prevent too much resin buildup on the roach over time.