Commissioning A Pipe

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saintpeter

Preferred Member
May 20, 2017
1,159
2,614
Okay, a serious question. Say a person has smoked a pipe for 40 years and just realized how much he has spent on them. Now he realizes he wants a custom pipe, but has absolutely no idea how to go about it. As in who to approach and what he needs to ask and tell so as to not look like a complete idiot. Help please....
 

alaskanpiper

Preferred Member
May 23, 2019
7,419
21,949
Alaska
Step 1 pick an artisan (I like Moretti, great communicator, but there are many).

Step 2 tell them what you have in mind and your budget. Shape, stain, blast, length, dimensions. Etc. They will likely want to look at their briar stock and get back to you on possibilities with what they have available.

Step 3 ask for their thoughts on what they can create for you with what they have, maybe even a rough sketch of your collaborative vision.

Step 4 If you like their vision, say yes, then wait and do the pee pee dance.

Step 5 post pictures for us and smoke that mother till you die, and recommend them to your friends if you are happy with it.
 

Chasing Embers

Captain of the Black Frigate
Nov 12, 2014
31,098
50,268
I would look through the artisan's portfolio to see if they offer or have done something you are looking for. Check their prices to see if it's within your budget and go from there. Expect some artistic license and enjoy the interaction. Many artisans will send photos of the work in progress. I was fortunate enough to be present for the creation of one of mine.👍
 

sumusfumus

Preferred Member
Jul 20, 2017
596
528
New York City
Send the pipe maker a picture, or, life-size drawing (side view) of the pipe you want to have custom made. Give the maker some options....and some wiggle room in case flaws/defects show up in the briar. Specify dimensions and overall length of pipe. Specify stem: material, shape, color, etc. Specify finish: smooth, rusticated, blasted, color of stain, etc. I'd also ask how it will take to make the pipe....and the cost.

Sit back and wait for the price quotes.
 

winton

Preferred Member
Oct 20, 2010
2,262
519
At the last Chicago Pipe Show, I commissioned a Meer pipe. This will be the 4th pipe I own from this carver. I described what I wanted and gave him a VERY rough sample that I carved from scrap wood. I am a woodturner. The most amazing grain in a tree is below the fork of a branch. I want a pipe that looks like a tree section. The bowl will be the larger trunk and the stem will be the forking branch. I also want the pipe to be a sitter.
 

jpmcwjr

Moderator
Staff member
May 12, 2015
19,684
14,750
Carmel Valley, CA
Okay, a serious question. Say a person has smoked a pipe for 40 years and just realized how much he has spent on them. Now he realizes he wants a custom pipe, but has absolutely no idea how to go about it. As in who to approach and what he needs to ask and tell so as to not look like a complete idiot. Help please....

Asking for a friend?? :)

Your first answer is a great one. I've not been that creative in the few commissions I have.
 

hoosierpipeguy

Preferred Member
Jan 28, 2018
7,079
31,312
I combine Alaskanpiper and chasingembers recommendations. Only on a few occasions have I started with a completely blank sheet of paper. Usually it is "See this pipe you made? I would like something similar except .....". I usually set a couple of parameters such as weight and bowl ID. Assuming it is a true Artisan, I also want to give the carver some latitude to add their touch to it and make something unique.

Below is an example of something I did recently with Martin Cermak. I saw the first pipe on his Facebook page and really liked it even though I'm not a huge nosewarmer fan in general. So I asked him to make me something similar but if he could get a piece of briar that had reasonable birdseye showing on the top part of the bowl to leave that smooth. I also asked Martin to refrain from coating the inside of the bowl. I asked that he make the stem wide and flat as I almost exclusively clinch. As you can see with the pipe I ended up with, the bottom image, Martin came through. In my somewhat limited experience, you also want to leave the carver some latitude to work with the briar to end up with the best result. That happened with the pipe below, Martin said the briar really wouldn't work to exactly duplicate the shape of the original pipe.

6731

6732
 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
18,043
38,211
63
Sarasota Florida
The only commissions I have had done were all made by Rad Davis. He made it really easy. I would tell him a shape, the dimensions(all group 4-5 size) and weight range(mostly 40-55 grams) and the color. I left all the artistic stuff to Rad as I trusted him to make shapes that I really liked. I also never had to give him any money upfront.
He was confident enough in his work that he didn't require a deposit.
 

craig61a

Preferred Member
Apr 29, 2017
3,365
23,700
Minnesota USA
I combine Alaskanpiper and chasingembers recommendations. Only on a few occasions have I started with a completely blank sheet of paper. Usually it is "See this pipe you made? I would like something similar except .....". I usually set a couple of parameters such as weight and bowl ID. Assuming it is a true Artisan, I also want to give the carver some latitude to add their touch to it and make something unique.

Below is an example of something I did recently with Martin Cermak. I saw the first pipe on his Facebook page and really liked it even though I'm not a huge nosewarmer fan in general. So I asked him to make me something similar but if he could get a piece of briar that had reasonable birdseye showing on the top part of the bowl to leave that smooth. I also asked Martin to refrain from coating the inside of the bowl. I asked that he make the stem wide and flat as I almost exclusively clinch. As you can see with the pipe I ended up with, the bottom image, Martin came through. In my somewhat limited experience, you also want to leave the carver some latitude to work with the briar to end up with the best result. That happened with the pipe below, Martin said the briar really wouldn't work to exactly duplicate the shape of the original pipe.

View attachment 6731

View attachment 6732

I like the lower one better...
 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
36,083
37,151
First decide how much input you want. Do you want to submit a few specifications and let the carver do the rest? Do you want an extended conversation, and to submit some photos and/or drawings, and have input as the pipe is carved and finished? Find out as you contact carvers how they like to work, and how well you and he/she communicate, before you order a pipe. Meeting a carver at a pipe show and seeing completed pipes, and having a conversation, would be ideal. I've never commissioned a pipe, so that's my disclaimer.
 

railman

Junior Member
Mar 9, 2019
83
15
I had Mr. Tinsky do a Rhodesian for me based on the famous GBD Rhodesian shape but in his Black and Tan finish. Top notch work and fast! If you like Tinsky pipes I would highly recommend him for commissions (and his prices are incredibly reasonable for handmade pipes these days).
 

saintpeter

Preferred Member
May 20, 2017
1,159
2,614
I had Mr. Tinsky do a Rhodesian for me based on the famous GBD Rhodesian shape but in his Black and Tan finish. Top notch work and fast! If you like Tinsky pipes I would highly recommend him for commissions (and his prices are incredibly reasonable for handmade pipes these days).

Regular Black and Tan or the Black and Natural? I am leaning towards Bengal.
 

railman

Junior Member
Mar 9, 2019
83
15
The black was actually his dress coral carve and the tan part was a reddish stain similar to bengal, a snappy combo. I really like his bengal finish but still haven’t jumped on one of his full smooths yet.
 
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