Artisan "Shop Pipes"

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lordofthepiperings

Preferred Member
May 3, 2010
6,337
203
Las Vegas, NV
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.

 

greeneyes

Member
Jun 5, 2018
298
324
Didn't all the famous pipe houses do this in some form or another? Seems like it's just another "seconds" market.

 

lordofthepiperings

Preferred Member
May 3, 2010
6,337
203
Las Vegas, NV
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.

 

greeneyes

Member
Jun 5, 2018
298
324
I agree. But all of those flawed blocks should go somewhere, to somebody. Even Upshall had Tilshead.

 

lordofthepiperings

Preferred Member
May 3, 2010
6,337
203
Las Vegas, NV
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.

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
14
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?

 

briarblues

Member
Aug 3, 2017
252
2
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

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
14
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?

 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
1,035
179
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.

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
14,182
4,033
United States
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.

 

lordofthepiperings

Preferred Member
May 3, 2010
6,337
203
Las Vegas, NV
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.

 

jpberg

Preferred Member
Aug 30, 2011
1,038
160
Granted, I don’t follow things too closely, but I can’t think of anyone who’s doing this. It doesn’t make sense.

 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
1,035
179
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.

 

disinformatique

Preferred Member
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

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
27,627
3,638
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.

 

zack24

Preferred Member
May 11, 2013
1,726
0
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.

 

bassbug

Preferred Member
Dec 29, 2016
867
14
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.

 

mrenglish

Preferred Member
Dec 25, 2010
2,210
39
Columbus, Ohio
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.

 

brian64

Preferred Member
Jan 31, 2011
5,812
1,539
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.

 

lordofthepiperings

Preferred Member
May 3, 2010
6,337
203
Las Vegas, NV
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.

 
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