As of the time of this writing, November 2018, it has been 6 years since I have made pipes full time and 4 years since I turned my last one. The idea of coming back to this has been with me for a long while now - not that it was ever my idea to stop in the first place, but sometimes Life can just get in the way - but it was not until early this year that I decided for sure that I was going to make the leap and get back into the action. It has been a rocky start, some things have been forgotten and others - remarkably - have been well remembered.
My full time career in pipe making began in 2009 after moving to Arizona from Minnesota. I had been collecting pipes for quite some time (as well as refurbishing/repairing estates) and had begun to take an interest in artisan carvers. Horace DeJarnett was a local carver who invited me over to his house to pick out a pipe in person rather than shop for one on his website. After talking to him for several hours and watching him work I decided that I had to try it myself. Shortly after I met Ernie Markle who was fairly new at the time but willingly shared his knowledge of pipe making with me. Ernie became a good friend and without his help and guidance I never would have gotten as far as I did. He convinced me to start doing the shows where of course I got to meet many other talented carvers from not only the U.S. but from around the world.
After one of the Vegas shows - 2010 I think - Ernie and I travelled to San Diego and spent some time with the extremely talented and always friendly Jeff Gracik of J. Alan Pipes. Also present at that time were Adam Davidson, Brad Pohlman, Sykes Wilford and Ted Swearingen (the later two from Smokingpipes.com - another pair of guys who were always very kind to me). It was a great few days and the experience of seeing these great artists work - and being able to get some advice from them - will always be fondly remembered.
I was lucky enough to meet and spend time with the late Ranier Barbi who came to Phoenix several times before he passed. He was a unique and very talented man and I will always be grateful for the time that I got to spend with him. Two others who greatly influenced me and my work were Rad Davis and Bruce Weaver. I understand neither are doing much with pipes now and I will miss seeing them around when I finally get back to the shows.
It was during 2012, shortly after the Kansas City show, when Life got in the way and I had to mothball my shop. It didn’t take long before I couldn’t afford the storage fees and was forced to sell everything. Ernie let me use his shop on a few occasions after that to make some pipes for friends but that was all she wrote for several years.
Now here we are at the tail end of 2018 and I’m turning pipes again, trying to get my bearings as quickly as possible and catch up on all the latest new ideas in pipe making. It has been quite a ride so far and I look forward many more years ahead of me. Maybe I will even get around to posting some newer pictures :)