I carved my first pipe as a Christmas gift for my father in 1973. I used a block of African Meerschaum from a pipe carving kit I bought at a “The Tinder Box” pipe shop. Though it was a first crude attempt my father was fond of the pipe and smoked it often.
The experience created a niche in my mind. Here was a relatively simple but deeply personal device that provided enjoyment and relaxation and could also serve as an artistic outlet. I learned about techniques and materials from a pipe repairman who worked for a San Diego pipe shop. Soon I was designing, carving, finishing and consigning my own hand carved pipes. I used the proceeds to help pay for tuition and books at the University of California in San Diego where I studied Applied Physics.
The Tinder Box (https://www.tinderbox.com) pipe shops were ubiquitous in the 1970’s, found in virtually every mall across America. They, in conjunction with the premier pipe makers of St Claude, France, for several years held annual contests for amateur pipe carvers. I entered for several years winning many regional competitions. I finally won the National Grand Prize in 1983. I was awarded a trip for my wife and myself to St Claude, France in 1984, where we met with the leaders of the French pipe making industry. The winning pipe remained on display in the pipe museum in St. Claude for the following year.
I took a hiatus from pipe carving after my first daughter was born in December of 1984. Upon retiring after a successful career as a scientist/analyst/engineer in 2016, I jumped back into pipe making with a passion. I live in Santa Barbara, California with my wife and dog and a garage full of wonderful mechanical devices that I use for fashioning pipes. If I am not carving a pipe I can often be found surfing at a local beach, enjoying the life aquatic, or spending time with my wife and grandsons.
"Fiddler on the Root" - Grand Prize winner The Tinder Box Amateur Pipe Carving Contest - 1983
A pipe should be a special semi-magical instrument. With a pinch of easily obtained fine tobacco it can transport its owner into a blissful state of reverie and contemplation. Each pipe can become a deeply cherished personal treasure. As an object of art it can focus the mind into a meditative trance of pure enjoyment.
My desire is to create whimsical artistic objects that perfectly serve the function for which they were designed. Each pipe is conceived as an inspired and unique expression. For some concepts I will create a maquette, a clay sculpture of the pipe design, to establish dimensions, gesture and positioning before I commit to sculpting the wood. A block sometimes has its own ideas of where it wants to go so I find that during carving it may evolve into something somewhat different than I originally intended. This is always a positive re-direction and I learn something with each creation. I always strive to provide the best possible technology coupled with the artistry so that the pipe connoisseur will be extremely pleased with the smoking as well as the visual experience. Since I work from my own inspiration I eschew custom orders.
I am not a "pipe maker." I am a pipe making hobbyist. I don't make a business or vocation with my pipes. I create them as an avocation because I have the time, enjoy the creative process and love the gratification of completing something beautiful, unique and useful. That being said, I do tip my hat to the many fine professional pipe crafters world wide. I have met several at pipe shows and admire their work and craftsmanship greatly. I strive to learn from them to perfect my processes and continuously improve my pipes by emulating their expertise. I would be honored to be counted among their numbers.
Bad men want their women like cigarettes, slender and trim, all in a row to be selected at will, set aflame and when the flame has subsided, discarded only to select another.
The fastidious man wants his woman to be like a cigar. They make a better appearance, they last longer, for after all, if the brand is good, they are seldom discarded but used to the end.
The good man wants his woman to be like his pipe, something to be attached to, smoke gently and lovingly, to take great care of always.
A man will give you a cigarette, offer you a cigar, but he will never share his pipe. -- Anon.