What fuels a pipe maker? I guess in the bottom of our souls the basic lust to create..but from there it varies greatly from maker to maker..
Before reading any further let me just state for the record that my intent with this article is to try and clarify for myself and others what drives me and Sara in pipe making..
Let me also say that it is my belief that as long as you love what you create and manage to get a following of pipe lovers and fellow pipe makers who appreciate and support your creations then you are on your way.
IMO Nothing is worth more than the other.. if a pipe maker loves making classical shapes, shapes of the Danish school, the Japanese school or the Marsian school and working within the rules that define them or trying to twist and bend them then than that is grand..
Make what you love and love what you make..For me pipe making is not a competition and something very personal. It’s just a question of what makes you tick and of course on a professional level what sells..
When I started out as a layman hobby pipe maker every pipe I made was in a new shape. I just immensely enjoyed exploring the various different forms of expression through briar… and in a way I think I was trying to define what I liked.
Later on when my tastes had developed a bit more I learned to cut down the variables and focus on refining and improving shapes that I was fascinated by and that also tends to change over time and I'm in no way done exploring new paths.
Even the great Bo Nordh who was known for coming up with new additions or innovative improvements of other makers inventions basically had a form vocabulary of 10 or so different shapes that he did variables on plus his takes on classical shapes.
Still to this day, one of the things that motivate us the most when making pipes is coming up with new shapes, although it happens more rarely than in the beginning and we’ve become more selective and dogmatic which is natural in any development I think.
It’s just a very special feeling to charter unknown territory, challenging your creative side to come up with good solutions to new design ideas and it can be truly rewarding .
Trying to picture in your head and draw in 2 dimensions the shape from every thinkable angle…figuring out how to best lay out the shape in a block of briar to accent its form and maximize the beauty of the wood, and coming up with the best way to position the holes for the pipe to function well.
The last couple of years we’ve even started to cut a prototype bowl out of pine just to see how all the details and features of the given shape interact in 3D before wasting a nice block of briar because all ideas aren’t good even if they might seem so on paper or in your mind..By doing a prototype we get a much better feeling if it “works” and how the pipe feels in the hand ect.I have to constantly tell myself to focus on the given path, not all (most) new pipe ideas are good ones and developing them can take a great deal of time, more than you’d think actually.
The Saying: Creativity does not happen in a vacuum rings true and there have been times we have created a pipe we felt was unique only to find later that some other pipe maker crafted something similar…Such is the way of the briar pipe, there are only a limited number of ways the grain runs and on smooths and sandblasts that sets the bar..Everything comes from something..
The internet while being wonderful for our hobby, bringing us closer in creating a contact net previously impossible and taking us to new heights in frendship across the globe ,making it possible for our creations to travel more than I ever have.
But creatively it also has a few setbacks ,we try not to look too much on pictures of other makers work because I’m afraid it will influence what we make too much..Incorporating features and certain style ideas from other pipe makers and making them your own is fine by me and a good way to develop, no question about it and I would be a fool to say we didn’t… we admire some pipe makers work greatly and cannot help being inspired by it.
I remember discussing this with Tom Eltang once and he proclaimed that most “young lions” should get a house in the forest for a year with no internet connection.
As a pipe maker trying to live on selling his works one is of course dependent on people buying it and thereby one cannot help to be influenced by popular demand and what sells..that is the way of our western world..money talks..
I remember reading once in an article about art and music that people in general will not accept something totally new. When a painting or art object had 10% of innovation and 90% classicism it was conceived as great art. This I think is very true.
It’s fascinating to me the different motives people have when making or collecting pipes and what they focus on how we grow and expand and take thing in new directions ..
Well that’s all for now, sorry for rambling on once again in a language that is not my own ..
I could have written more on the subject but out of fear of boring you ill end it here
What are your thoughts on the subject?