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Artisan "Shop Pipes"

(46 posts)
  • Started 1 year ago by lordofthepiperings
  • Latest reply from chasingembers
  1. lordofthepiperings

    lordofthepiperings

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    I've seen a few artisan carvers do this recently, they're reducing price and selling flawed pipes that they normally wouldn't have sold.

    I don't understand this. The name and respect was garnered because they weren't putting out flawed pipes and with that came a higher price tag. Why would you all of the sudden agree to put out flawed pipes at a reduced price? If you're trying to expand your customer base by going to a lower price point then why not just collaborate with a manufacturer like Briarworks to put out a line inspired by your style? To me bringing the price down from around $500 to $280 isn't really going to broaden the customer base a whole lot.

    As someone who's just getting into collecting artisan pipes this seems like a disservice to the hobby to me.

    "The thinking man always smokes a Peterson." -Peterson of Dublin
    Posted 1 year ago #
  2. greeneyes

    greeneyes

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    Didn't all the famous pipe houses do this in some form or another? Seems like it's just another "seconds" market.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  3. lordofthepiperings

    lordofthepiperings

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    I would argue that in the artisan market there really shouldn't be a "seconds" line. That's not what artisan pipe carving is about. It's not about putting out a flawed pipe to lower a price point and broaden the customer base. Artisan pipe carving is about putting out the best work possible.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  4. greeneyes

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    I agree. But all of those flawed blocks should go somewhere, to somebody. Even Upshall had Tilshead.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  5. lordofthepiperings

    lordofthepiperings

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    Those flawed blocks go into the price point for the pipes that actually make it on to the market. They're experience and knowledge gained. Typically in times past the carver would keep them for themselves as a "shop pipe" to puff on while they worked, because they were still functional.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  6. bassbug

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    When you say "flawed", I assume you mean cosmetically?

    Maybe a small wormhole in the briar that does not go right through or something like that?

    I don't care who you are, you're not walking on the water while I'm fishing
    Posted 1 year ago #
  7. briarblues

    briarblues

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    I fully understand any artisan trying to re coop costs. I have no problems as long as these pipes are stamped as flawed or seconds. Like the WO Larsen Straight Grains graded with an F. Either meaning filled or flawed and not up to the beginning Straight Grain 1 designation.

    My worry is that if they are not stamped in some way, they will filter into the estate market and this will damage the carvers reputation.

    Maybe a short gain, but could, in the long game be an issue.

    I suspect most carvers are wise enough to make sure anything not 100% up to snuff becomes a "shop pipe" ( meaning stays with the carver ) or is stamped as a second.

    Regards
    Michael J. Glukler

    Posted 1 year ago #
  8. bassbug

    bassbug

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    My worry is that if they are not stamped in some way, they will filter into the estate market and this will damage the carvers reputation.

    Allow me to play a bit of devil's advocate here...

    A carver known for very high cosmetic standards sees a flaw in block of briar at some point during the process. It's strictly cosmetic and will not affect the smoking quality of the pipe.

    He continues with the process and markets the product as a "flawed" pipe that is not up to his usual standard.

    Has he not just repudiated his own reputation?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  9. sasquatch

    sasquatch

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    I'm not sure who specifically is doing this or more of this.... by and large the numbers don't work.

    My ordinary price point on a pipe is about 300 bucks. Let's say 30 of that is material. 20 for briar, 10 for stem stuff. I'm working with taking in 270 after costs. Takes all day to make a pipe, let's say it's 8 hours. That's 34 bucks an hour which sounds nice until you realize it takes about 70 bucks an hour to keep the lights on in a shop and have things like.... tools. But assume that 34 bucks an hour is okay, that makes it worthwhile.

    Now cut that in half and sell a shop pipe that failed but you finished it anyway (perhaps in 7 hours, but all the same steps, all the sanding, all the finish work, the button takes an hour...). And you are getting 15 bucks an hour. If I sell that grade 2 pipe at 150, suddenly my material cost is .... the same. 30 bucks, and I see 120. 15 an hour. That's minimum wage here in Alberta. To own and run a wood shop.

    Doesn't make sense. I'm better off to throw the thing out as soon as it fails, and start again, I'm money ahead to do so.

    Now very occassionally I'll experiment with a new rod or a new finish, and the results can be tragic. Sometimes it's not tragic right till the very end. And yeah, I'll sell those because they are sitting here. But it's recouping a loss, really.

    So ... depending on the flaw, depending on the pipe, depending on the average sale price vs the seconds type price.... mostly this doesn't make sense for carvers.

    What IS a big thing now (and perhaps there's some confusion on the part of the OP?) is an entirely different line of pipes, a more affordable line that is not seconds but is maybe not the artist's pinnacle either. So Gracik has J. Alan pipes and the lower-end Alan Brothers if I remember right. Cannoy has his Cardinal House pipes at a lower price point etc. And all this shows is what some carvers knew all along - Joe Sixpack buys a LOT more pipes than Joe Penthouse. Joe Penthouse wants perfect pipes, but doesn't buy one every day. Joe Sixpack wants nice pipes, and buys a lot of them. So that's a bigger, easier market.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  10. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    Who specifically is doing this? I know that Clark Layton has his Sloth series of lower end pipes, but have not seen any other regular artisan carving seconds.

    Harris
    Posted 1 year ago #
  11. lordofthepiperings

    lordofthepiperings

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    I get the Cardinal House and Alan Brothers pipes as a way to expose people to their style/work at a more affordable price point. Those aren’t pipes that have pits or what not that just weren’t good enough for their handmade stamp.

    I’m not gonna name names as to who’s doing it, but it’s not in the form of Cardinal House or Alan Brothers.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  12. jpberg

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    Granted, I don’t follow things too closely, but I can’t think of anyone who’s doing this. It doesn’t make sense.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  13. sasquatch

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    Another thing that is happening right now is that lots of cash is going to tobacco hoards, and pipe sales from what I can gather are slow for some guys, so there's a bit of... market correction if you will and pipes are simply being offered cheaper because some dudes aren't selling enough.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  14. disinformatique

    The Pipe Monk

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    Tom Eltang has Sara Eltang
    Walt Cannoy has Cardinal House
    J Alan has Alan Brothers
    Clark Layton has Sloth
    Blue Room Briar (Jesse Jones) have their production series
    Trever Talbert has Ligne Bretagne
    Dagners have Italian made custom design pipes
    Morgan has BlackJack
    Grechukin has Grechukin Design
    Chheda has (forgot his sub-brand name)

    Neither of the sub-brands above are flawed.

    The only twp I have seen are Morgan Bones which he sells for $30-$40 if I am correct and he is quite transparent about it and MM Seconds Cob bags.

    So which Artisan hurt your feelings?

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Albert Einstein was once quoted as saying, “I believe that pipe smoking contributes to a somewhat calm and objective judgment in all human affairs.” One of the reasons behind this statement is that pipe smoking is meant to be a slow leisurely activity. It takes patience to smoke a pipe. Unlike cigarettes and cigars, there is a certain amount of technique to smoking a pipe. Where cigars and cigarettes can just be picked up, lit and puffed on, pipes require the development of a technique in order to get the best smoking experience.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  15. mso489

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    It's a balancing act between maintaining ones professional and artistic status, and high price point, and maintaining some kind of income for the hours spent. I agree, after a carver reaches a certain level, the flawed pipes should be re-carved by an apprentice or in some way recycled and disassociated from the master in both name and design. But for people starting out in their garage, they likely need income for every hour spent, or they are working for below minimum wage. In a craft you love, you can do that for a while, and after that, it's just an expensive hobby.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  16. zack24

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    I'm with Sasquatch on this one- a man's gotta eat....I heard from several guys at the Chicago show who weren't selling the $500-600 pipes they had always sold in the past. I've seen a couple of excellent carvers in the past couple of months who are no longer full time pipe makers.
    I did see a post today from the carver we're talking about who is selling shop pipes- it's really not worth mentioning who it is- he's a good guy who makes nice pipes...and has a bunch of seconds that have accumulated over the years that he would like to make some money on...Man has a family to feed- I won't say anything negative about it- it's his decision.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  17. bassbug

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    Now allow me to play devil's advocate on the other side.

    Who am I, or anyone else for that matter, to tell a pipemaker what he should or should not sell. With or without any kind of identifying stamp, at any price he chooses to ask.

    The only disservice to the hobby here is that the individual craftsman will be driven away because he either can't make a living or, if this is a part time or hobby business, he will simply walk away from it as it costs him too much.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  18. mrenglish

    mrenglish

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    Chheda has his Buckeye line and the major difference between his standard line and Buckeyes is the stem work. I've got a couple Buckeyes I watched them make and everything about the bowl and shank is no different than his Chheda line. The stems were just cut from blanks instead of a rod but they smoke just as good. I've got a bunch of both and the only difference, to me, is the stems oxidize whereas on his Chheda pipes they do not. Everything else is on par with his normal line.

    I see no problem with pipe makers selling pipes like this. You know what you are getting but odds are it will be an excellent smoker. I have one from an artisan pipe maker who sold me a shop pipe. A tiny sand spot developed in the bowl as he was working on a commissioned piece. He told me he would honor is normal return policy, meaning if this tiny defect compromised the pipe, he would replace it for free. He charged me less than half of what he normally charges and it smokes just as well as his regular offerings.

    As long as you know what you are getting and why, I see no problem with makers doing this. They have invested time and money so at least this way they could hopefully cover their costs.

    Michael
    Posted 1 year ago #
  19. brian64

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    I heard from several guys at the Chicago show who weren't selling the $500-600 pipes they had always sold in the past. I've seen a couple of excellent carvers in the past couple of months who are no longer full time pipe makers.

    That’s what I was thinking must be the case. There are a limited number of pipe smokers who can afford these to begin with (especially multiple purchases) combined with the fact that tobacco purchasing has become a much higher priority now.

    “Bipartisan usually means some larger-than-usual deception is being carried out.” – George Carlin
    Posted 1 year ago #
  20. lordofthepiperings

    lordofthepiperings

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    I think more people can afford these artisan pipes they just choose not to buy them. Instead of spending $2,000 on 4 high quality artisan pipes they spend $2,000 on 15-20 factory pipes. I know I did it starting out. I really wish someone would have told me when I started to save up more and buy better quality pipes less often instead of buying cheaper mediocre factory pipes more often.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  21. bassbug

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    I really wish someone would have told me when I started to save up more and buy better quality pipes less often instead of buying cheaper mediocre factory pipes more often.

    Not saying you're right or wrong, just curious...why?

    Do you think a $150-$200 factory pipe like a Savinelli or a Peterson is mediocre?

    Posted 1 year ago #
  22. mso489

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    I've turned that over in my mind quite a bit. I can see myself with half or a quarter the number of pipes of an average much greater value. Balancing that, I will say through gifts and a few splurges, I have some higher end pipes that help cover that premium pipe experience. I have a number of factory pipes of really superior quality and of good industrial design that are as satisfying as anything I've smoked. Plus, I really enjoy and savor a wide variety of pipes from many different nations, sources, and schools of pipe making. I do admire stables of high-end only pipes, but I haven't traded my more various array for a fancier selection, which I suppose I could do.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  23. brian64

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    I think more people can afford these artisan pipes they just choose not to buy them. Instead of spending $2,000 on 4 high quality artisan pipes they spend $2,000 on 15-20 factory pipes. I know I did it starting out. I really wish someone would have told me when I started to save up more and buy better quality pipes less often instead of buying cheaper mediocre factory pipes more often.

    I mostly agree...I did the same thing before knowing any better...but over a period of time. I doubt anyone starts out spending 2K on 15-20 pipes all at once. But when you’re first starting out, not only do you not know any better, but you’re probably going to be much more reluctant to spend a lot on one pipe until you experience for yourself what the issues are.

    Another benefit of having some experience before purchasing higher end pipes is (for me at least) it took a while to figure out the type of pipes I liked most, in terms of size, shape, weight, etc. I clench most of the time now for example, so weight matters a lot more than it used to.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  24. mrenglish

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    I really wish someone would have told me when I started to save up more and buy better quality pipes less often instead of buying cheaper mediocre factory pipes more often.

    That is where I found myself as well. Still no regrets with the factory pipes I have kept but now I tend to stick with artisan pipe makers and would rather have one of those than a few more factory pipes (Peterson and Briar Works in my case).

    Posted 1 year ago #
  25. chasingembers

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    I really wish someone would have told me when I started to save up more and buy better quality pipes less often instead of buying cheaper mediocre factory pipes more often.

    I have artisan pieces over $700, and most of my best smoking pipes were estates under $50.

    I like coffee exceedingly.
    - H. P. Lovecraft
    Posted 1 year ago #
  26. snagstangl

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    I know people on the forums for years have been saying spend more on fewer high quality pipes. I never listened... and still enjoy smoking.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    bigpond

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    Lord, I think you should be specific about this. No doubt you learned of this on the web probably on a carvers own shop page. It’s not a secret or shameful.

    If we’re talking about a seconds line, so what? The Allan Bros pipes, according to Jeff, use the same bowl stock and have all hand finished airways and stems.

    If we’re talking about actual “shop pipes”, so what? If someone is selling a pipe that they yanked out of their beak to keep the lights on, get the link up right now.

    And lastly, if we’re talking about fully finished rejects...another so what? Some folks are smokers first and collectors ninth.

    Really hard to see an issue here without some specifics. On the surface I don’t see anything to react to and am kinda curious about scoring some well made pipes!

    This all reminds me of an anecdote on passion4pipes years back (shame he took it all down). Neil mentioned he ran in to a pipecarver at a trade show, (I think it was Mike Lindner but can’t be sure) who’s pipes he had greatly admired for years. The two had chatted back and forth about a commission but for some reason this hadn’t come to pass. Michael was smoking his own personal pipe, and at the time he only had the one. Neil mentioned how much he liked the pipe so Michael plucked it from his kisser and handed it over to Neil as a gift.

    Now, it occurs to me, if you are a Pipe maker and you’re smoking a pipe you made it’s one that you otherwise could not sell, so it’s now a shop pipe. If you only have one it means your reject rate is crazy low. Further it likely means you need to carve to eat.

    Habeas corpus lord.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  28. georged

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    That was Steve Liskey, not Lindner. True story.

    Dogs live such short lives... and spend most it waiting for us to come home
    Posted 1 year ago #
  29. sablebrush52

    sablebrush52

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    I think more people can afford these artisan pipes they just choose not to buy them.

    Absolutely! I could afford to buy ultra high end pipes, but I don't have any desire to spend that kind of money. I'm not going to get 100 times the smoking pleasure for paying 100 times the price of a mid range pipe, or even 10 times the pleasure for spending 10 times the cost of a midrange pipe. If I want to piss away money, there are a lot more interesting ways for me to do that, like a high quality camera lens.

    Besides, the hardware represents only 25% of the deal. The other 75% is technique, ie: prep, packing, cadence. If you don't know how to make the most of your tobacco, a $5000 pipe isn't going to make any difference. Even a $100 pipe isn't going to make any difference.

    Instead of spending $2,000 on 4 high quality artisan pipes they spend $2,000 on 15-20 factory pipes. I know I did it starting out. I really wish someone would have told me when I started to save up more and buy better quality pipes less often instead of buying cheaper mediocre factory pipes more often.

    There seems to be an implied suggestion that factory made pipes are inherently inferior to artisan made pipes. If so, that's baloney, like the claim that machine made pipes are inherently inferior to hand made pipes. Many of the best pipes ever made, were made in factories, and machines are involved everywhere in the making of pipes, including "hand made" pipes. The idea that you must spend at least $400 for a good pipe has been disproven many, many times. Pick up one of Trever Talbert's LIgne Bretagne pipes for a great pipe at a modest price.

    You can get the occasional stinker at any price point. Paying more than entry level gives you more quality in terms of fit and finish, a hand made stem and bit, etc, and that may add to your smoking pleasure. I know it does mine. And I have occasionally sprung for an exceptionally interesting pipe. But none of this is going to help if you don't know how to prep, pack, and sip. And, if doesn't require a huge investment to get a basically functional pipe.

    Am I suggesting that there is no reason to spend a lot of money on a pipe? No, not at all. The reasons for purchasing a pipe are many and varied. I'm a sucker for historical or vintage. But from the standpoint of basic functionality, a good pipe can be had for a modest sum.

    As for artisans selling pipes of "lesser" quality than their signature original lines, that's just being smart. Instead of investing in dead stock, they're repurposing it and making money from it. The great British makers did the same. They didn't waste wood. They downstreamed it. That's all revenue and that keeps the lights on and people employed.

    It is better to remain silent and be thought a fool than to open one's mouth and remove all doubt. - Mark Twain

    It is pointless to argue with a fanatic since a dim bulb can't be converted into a searchlight. - Jesse Silver
    Posted 1 year ago #
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    bigpond

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    Thanks for the correction George!

    I couldn’t agree more strongly with Sable.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  31. georged

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    The Bard Knows.

    Listen to The Bard.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  32. chasingembers

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    I know people on the forums for years have been saying spend more on fewer high quality pipes. I never listened... and still enjoy smoking.

    +1

    Also, establish a good friendship with an artisan, and they may gift you pipes.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  33. georged

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    Also, establish a good friendship with an artisan, and they may gift you pipes.

    This is true.

    Back in 2012 I waved at Todd "Sasquatch" Bannard from across the show floor at Chicago, and he has mailed me a pipe every month since. He doesn't even ask to be reimbursed for shipping.

    Those Canadisians shore are friendly. (And I'm not even a hockey fan)

    Posted 1 year ago #
  34. chasingembers

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    Bruce has surprised me with a few himself.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  35. disinformatique

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    A $400 or $2000 pipe has no guarantee to smoke "better" or "perfect". You have been given the wrong information. Price has nothing to do with the smokability of a pipe. George D here has a box of pipes from me to restore, none of those pipes costed me over $200, infact only 1 of those pipes is $200, rest have been $30 to $100 max and those are awesome pipes and 90% are factory pipes.

    Cheers,
    Chris

    Posted 1 year ago #
  36. jpmcwjr

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    Smoking "better" is in the eye, mouth and nose of the beholder. Unless the briar is green, (not cured properly) or not broken it, it's unlikely that anyone could tell the difference in a totally blind test. (not yet heard of anyone conducting the same)

    I believe when people talk of mediocre pipes, they're talking aesthetics, not that the cheaper ones smoke worse than the expensive ones.

    I know that you believe you understood what you think I said, but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  37. bnichols23

    Bill Nichols

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    What Chris & Jesse said. I can't beat that.

    Head Black Frigate keelhauler, boss powder monkey, & troublemaker 1st class.
    Posted 1 year ago #
  38. sasquatch

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    "
    Back in 2012 I waved at Todd "Sasquatch" Bannard from across the show floor at Chicago, and he has mailed me a pipe every month since. He doesn't even ask to be reimbursed for shipping"

    What's amazing is how they've all been stuck in the mail for 6 years now. Bad luck old chap!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  39. bnichols23

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    Sasquatch, you're jes' so bad.....

    Posted 1 year ago #
  40. chasingembers

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    Also, establish a good friendship with an artisan, and they may gift you pipes.

    Case in point.

    Posted 1 year ago #
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    armonts

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  42. bnichols23

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    Re ce's "case in point," good godawmighty. Hide that pipe, Skipper. And be glad I don't have your street address!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  43. chasingembers

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    Re ce's "case in point," good godawmighty. Hide that pipe, Skipper. And be glad I don't have your street address!

    Posted 1 year ago #
  44. mrenglish

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    For me it's not Artesian pipes necessarily smoke better but the fact I am supporting and individual pipe maker and their work. Seven of the nine Chheda pipes I have I got to watch the process of being made. From block to finished piece and in the process, have learned a great amount.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  45. chasingembers

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    For me it's not Artesian pipes necessarily smoke better but the fact I am supporting and individual pipe maker and their work.

    This.

    I found Bruce Weaver several years ago when I was looking for a volcano pipe, and after finding out how much fun he was having carving, and how a big chunk of his proceeds were going to charity, I became an instant fan. He sent step by step progress shots of my commissions and kept me in the loop to get my thoughts during the development. I got to see my fugu blowfish take shape firsthand, and he walked me through my first couple of carvings.

    Posted 1 year ago #
  46. chasingembers

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    To me bringing the price down from around $500 to $280 isn't really going to broaden the customer base a whole lot.
    As someone who's just getting into collecting artisan pipes this seems like a disservice to the hobby to me.

    To me, this would bring my attention to a carver I hadn't considered, and make me more curious about their more expensive pieces, and some cosmetically flawed pieces are prime targets for sandblasting and rustication.

    Posted 1 year ago #

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