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 Supporting Pipe Artisans

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dshpipes

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Age : 33
Location : Durham, NC
Registration date : 2011-03-06

PostSubject: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Sun Jan 29, 2012 10:25 am

I started to post this in another thread and realized that it went a bit too off topic. Enough so it made more sense to start a new thread. The rate of pay for people who make pipes came up and that comment spawned these thoughts.

So, I'm near to finishing my first pipe, which is not a pipe that I'd try to sell by any means. If I were to sell the pipe for $100, let's assume that staining and final sanding takes me... 6 hours which would put me at a nice round 80 hours to create the pipe from start to finish, I would effectively make $0.80 an hour for that pipe.

So if, say, Kevin Arthur spends 8 hours on a pipe and sells it for $275, he made $34.38 an hour for that pipe. That is, if it gets sold. Honestly, I think that artisans who produce high quality work like Kevin, who insist on every piece that leaves their workshop to be the pinnacle of their ability, deserve pay like that. The challenge isn't so much completing the work once you're good at it, it's emptying your inventory so you get paid. For reasons like that and in order to keep high end artisans in business, I have absolutely no problem dropping between $300 and $400 on a beautiful pipe because I know I'm getting quality I can trust and I can sleep better at night knowing that an artisan in our fine hobby can put food on the table and a roof over their head. This is, however, an unfortunately rare occurrence as I'm often trying to keep a roof over my head and food on my table, but when I can and I see something that calls to me, you bet your ass I'm laying down cash!

What's your approach/opinion on artisan pipes, their prices, and the pay that artisans receive for their work?
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Mikem
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Age : 62
Location : Glendale, Arizona
Registration date : 2007-12-14

PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Sun Jan 29, 2012 12:14 pm

For a new pipe artisan it is kind of a two edged sword IMHO. You are unknown, yet you want to at least break even when you start selling your creations. Cost of briar ($35 or more for a good piece), stain, stem material, etc. The cost of your tooling (lathe, bits, files, etc.), not to mention your time. Most people I know are not willing to spend $100 on an unknown new artisan. Yet, you the artisan cannot even break even at the $100 price. I would not give up your day job to become a pipe carver until you have made a name for yourself.

I personally have spent $200 on a pipe twice from unknown carvers. One was quite a few years ago from a member of the old Knox Board. I was not disappointed. The other was from a member of another board. That one burnt out on me on the second smoke due to a defect in the briar. The attitude from the carver was "oh well" too bad, so sad. I never said anything about what happened to the other members of the board, but I personally would never purchase from him again nor recommend him. He still creates and sells pipes and I wish him no ill will, but I will not purchase from him again. Both pipes were bought over the internet (emails) and were purchased sight unseen except for pictures.

I have and try to purchase from individual carvers here in the U.S. when ever I can. I think that we should support what I consider to be a dieing art form. I also believe that most individual carvers that I know and have purchased from tend to work more with you on what type of pipe you want. Usually in my experience the quality of the craftsmanship is a little higher IMHO than what I consider to be a "brand" name pipe. Do I think they deserve the $300 to $400 price for one of their creations, you bet. Will my wallet support it, not very often. Would I pay that for an unknown carver, probably not unless I saw the pipe at a pipe show he was displaying his pieces and I had that kind of disposable income. Just my thoughts.
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
Registration date : 2011-09-18

PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Sun Jan 29, 2012 2:28 pm

Agreed with both of the above, 100%. Here's my take.

I carve pipes, and I am not a pipe carver. A "pipe carver," earns his name by becoming at least established as putting out a particular product, at a particular skill level at a particular price. This can vary from talented unknowns to well-known superstars. On the fringe are hobbyists, wannabes, and the up-and-coming.

"Art" and "artisan" are terms defined by men, argued by men, and individually decided upon my men. This is also true of craftsmanship and quality. The only real agreement these men can come to. once in a while, is buying and selling between themselves. Otherwise, as casually discussed like this, price point of the "market" is the only tangible scale available. It is there, and only there, there carvers can raise their name in the world of carving, because they have what it takes--talent, dedication, time, hard work and patience. This will be rewarded, but is no guarantee. Might I add, any artist or craftsman that cannot support their product post-sale if there's a problem is a huckster. May they be thinned out of the herd.

From what I read, no one man is really getting "rich" from his pipe carving in his shop. Perhaps companies are making a small, tidy profit. While I don't concern myself so much for who is putting food on the table for whom, if some guy is carving pipes in his garage and coming out with a great product on the side, it's usually a labor of love and not "just trying to make ends meet." It's NOT a cheap hobby, carving, pipes OR tobacco. It's a luxury hobby, through and through. By that, I pay for it, and I pay what I can for it. The companies might employ people in the industry, and I'm still going to buy what I like, tobacco or pipes. I'm going to get the best I can afford.

Which is the conclusion of this: I get the best I can afford. I enjoy the hunt of the humble estate pipe, I love window-shopping the new stuff, and immersing myself in the hobby first-hand, on every level I can. I will own $300+ pipes one day, and I will cherish them. Most pipes are worth it at some point, at some cost, to someone--caveat emptor.

"It ain't the ship, it's the captain." (...and captains can have all kinds of ships at their disposal...) Cool

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alfredo_buscatti

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Age : 62
Location : Piedmont, North Carolina
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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Sun Jan 29, 2012 7:40 pm

I agree that pipemakers should be able to make a good living for the often stunning work they produce. But the price for that work, although justified in every sense, is beyond my reach.
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Brewdude

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Age : 65
Location : Near the Emerald city
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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:07 pm

alfredo_buscatti wrote:
I agree that pipemakers should be able to make a good living for the often stunning work they produce. But the price for that work, although justified in every sense, is beyond my reach.

Yup. I'm in the same boat. I'd love to have some of the individual one-of-a-kind handmade creations I often see, but finances dictate otherwise.

It has to be tough to make a living sculpting pipes. There's a good few out there making fine pipes, very individual and unique. No doubt worth it for all the effort that goes in.


Cheers,

RR
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MartinH

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Age : 47
Location : The South
Registration date : 2011-01-04

PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Sun Jan 29, 2012 9:43 pm

Hello Gents,

I firstly agree wholeheartedly with the need to support artisans who put forth one of the kind pieces of art, smoke-able art, yet art nonetheless. It's the art of the pipe that first drew me to it in a way that my initial experience with the leaf did not. My first smoke was so terrible that I put down the pipe and didn't touch it again for almost two years. But, seeing the beauty of the these wooden creations is what makes them worth the money.

Ah, the money. There's the run, ain't it? While I certainly understand and appreciate the price points of the high-end pipes, they are simply out of my reach, at least right now. But, I continue to be impressed by how quickly some of these high-end pipes are sold at popular pipe sites after they are released. I get weekly emails from two popular sites, and many of the high-ends are sold within hours. Someone has the cash, it's just not me.

That said, one day, some day, I want my own artisan pipe, made by someone who knows what they're doing. I may have tried my hand at carving, but for me it's a hobby, nothing more. I ain't no" Kurt Huhn, or Rad Davis, etc. etc. etc. Those folks are artists of the highest degree.

It would seem, that except for those famous names, for most this must be a labour of love. I know that I find a nice sense of peace and calm when I'm carving on a pipe, but you have to really enjoy this to make it a job. As you know, anytime something turns into a job, it can easily stop being fun.

Okay, enough rambling. I hope that those who have the disposable cash will continue to support this heirloom art-form. I will, once I'm able to.

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Blue Max

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Location : Earth - mostly
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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Sun Jan 29, 2012 11:55 pm

If I had the means, every pipe would be from someone like Kevin or Yakslon or the many others who do this because they love to do it.

Then again, every plate, bowl and glass in my house would be from artisan potters.

Waddayagonnadoo?
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Behike54

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Location : Midwest
Registration date : 2011-12-25

PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:18 am

I will admit, I am an aesthete to the chagrin of my wife and wallet. But you have to ask yourself, if it looks good but doesn't smoke well, what good is it? I cannot imagine owning a Tokutomi, Florov, or Johnson and NOT SMOKING IT. I am not saying their pipes don't smoke well; I am sure they smoke beautifully. But what is worse, spending 5K on a pipe and just looking at it, or having it sit on the sidelines knowing it's a 4th stringer?

No use having a Ferrari Enzo if you aren't going to mash the right peddle and she handles and stops like it's tapped into your cortex.


I DO believe artisans should make a good living. But so much of that is tied to time, circumstance, and culture. Look at Van Gogh.


That said, I'm new and know less than nothing because I have no clue how much I don't know. Does that make sense? I didn't think so......
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dshpipes

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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:52 am

Blue Max wrote:
Then again, every plate, bowl and glass in my house would be from artisan potters.

I'm starting to have that problem too!

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dshpipes

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Age : 33
Location : Durham, NC
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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Mon Jan 30, 2012 2:54 am

Behike54 wrote:
I will admit, I am an aesthete to the chagrin of my wife and wallet. But you have to ask yourself, if it looks good but doesn't smoke well, what good is it? I cannot imagine owning a Tokutomi, Florov, or Johnson and NOT SMOKING IT. I am not saying their pipes don't smoke well; I am sure they smoke beautifully. But what is worse, spending 5K on a pipe and just looking at it, or having it sit on the sidelines knowing it's a 4th stringer?

No use having a Ferrari Enzo if you aren't going to mash the right peddle and she handles and stops like it's tapped into your cortex.


I DO believe artisans should make a good living. But so much of that is tied to time, circumstance, and culture. Look at Van Gogh.


That said, I'm new and know less than nothing because I have no clue how much I don't know. Does that make sense? I didn't think so......

I totally agree. A large reason that these pipes are so expensive is that they are the best smokers money can buy. I'm talking up in the thousands of dollars range, which is waaaaay out of the range of affordability for me.

Any high end maker worth their salt is creating nearly perfect smokers with aesthetics that are beyond compare and a fit and finish that boggles the mind. Hence the high price.

It'd be unlikely that I'd buy a pipe that I didn't intend to smoke, no matter the price.
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Ol'Dawg

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Location : Northeast Georgia
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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Mon Jan 30, 2012 1:31 pm

Beyond the $ factor, buying a pipe from (or was made by) someone I've met at a pipe show or on-line gives the pipe a special place on my pipe rack. It gives the pipe a special meaning when I hold and smoke it.

Jim...wishing he could express the feelings better
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R.A.

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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Tue Feb 07, 2012 3:17 am

I own a couple of pipes craved by a guy who lives in NC same as I do, there is some sense of satisfaction supporting an artisan and especially one from your home state. Cool

And as far as cost, being a wood worker in the residential side I know first hand sometimes after you cover material, travel and labor its hard to turn a profit. and considering the level of detail in pipe carving an being a niche market hats off to those who can make a living at it. cheers

It has to be a labor of love knowing how much skill and effort go into carving a pipe 100-200 per pipe is almost a wash considering briar, stem mat, finishing supplies, labor

As a woodworker I am on board with supporting artisans, And as a comsumer with limited funds not as often as I would like.
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Zeno Marx

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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:39 pm

I was going to start a thread, but maybe this one is a good place to put this:

Anyone else find it strange that carvers display their wares at the Towne Crier forum, yet they aren't for sale? I don't know if that causes a hint of frustration or if it is purely a head-scratcher for me. I get the idea of exposure. Somewhere in there, it gets lost and/or confused that "here are my pipes. this is my work. it isn't for sale." Maybe I wasn't paying attention before this, but it seems like it is more and more common. Something about it makes me wish such cases were put elsewhere or made to include in the subject header "NOT FOR SALE". I hope I don't sound like a fuddy-duddy. Like I said, it just strikes me as odd for some reason.

EDIT: to be clear, I mean the stuff that was never going to be on sale, or the stuff that was never going to be on sale to the board. This doesn't include the pipes that were sold on the board or since the thread posting.


Last edited by Zeno Marx on Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:58 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Kyle Weiss

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Location : Reno, NV
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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:46 pm

I think it's a great place to show off a carver's work, but what's the point of a commissioned or reserved work if you can't show it to the rest of the public? It's great advertising. I see the opposition thought, though, kind of like "Sure, go ahead and tease me..." Often they have other work for sale on their own websites, so as far as "Here's What I Can Do" -- I find it 100% acceptable.

Cool

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Behike54

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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Thu Feb 09, 2012 7:51 pm

Zeno Marx wrote:
I was going to start a thread, but maybe this one is a good place to put this:

Anyone else find it strange that carvers display their wares at the Towne Crier forum, yet they aren't for sale? I don't know if that causes a hint of frustration or if it is purely a head-scratcher for me. I get the idea of exposure. Somewhere in there, it gets lost and/or confused that "here are my pipes. this is my work. it isn't for sale." Maybe I wasn't paying attention before this, but it seems like it is more and more common. Something about it makes me wish such cases were put elsewhere or made to include in the subject header "NOT FOR SALE". I hope I don't sound like a fuddy-duddy. Like I said, it just strikes me as odd for some reason.


This has been a question I have pondered as well. Am I that slow on the draw, of is the person posting on the site first and then BLAMO! It just happens. Sites usually send out newsletter to subscribers saying, "hey, come one, come all, we got new shit!"

I should be checking that first thing, but I always forget.

I wish I was some computer nerd who can write some script to filter all the new stuff and have it show up at 7:00 but I can barely make coffee and i try not to get up at 7:00am. See what I'm saying here?
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Rad Davis

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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Thu Feb 09, 2012 11:35 pm

I've got 10 pipes on my site that are definitely for sale.

Please check them out:

http://raddavispipes.com/store.cfm?R=0.779990517344

Rad Laughing
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Kyle Weiss

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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Fri Feb 10, 2012 1:14 pm

cheers (Rad!)
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dshpipes

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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:08 pm

Rad Davis wrote:
I've got 10 pipes on my site that are definitely for sale.

Please check them out:

http://raddavispipes.com/store.cfm?R=0.779990517344

Rad Laughing

lol! Never one to miss a chance at advertising. Wink

I think we all know how wonderful Rad's pipes are. If you don't own one yet, I'd follow his link. There are some beauties on his site right now!
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Kyle Weiss

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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:10 pm

"Rad Davis Pipes: Make Every Day... A RAD One!" Cool
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Rad Davis

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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Fri Feb 10, 2012 2:52 pm

UberHuberMan wrote:


lol! Never one to miss a chance at advertising. Wink


I was not advertising. I was resolving a complaint. Twisted Evil

Rad
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ejames

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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:13 pm

I would-if I could-buy only artisan pipes. But my budget won't allow it. I have one, A Tim West that a friend picked up cheaply at a flea market! Evidently they didn't know much about pipes. My friend sold it to me a for a song IMO.
I love to go to their websites and spent some time drooling and thinking(as a hobbyist pipe maker) why can't I make 'em look like that!

Been thinkin' I should sell off a bunch of my drug store pipes and get another.
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dshpipes

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Age : 33
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PostSubject: Re: Supporting Pipe Artisans   Fri Feb 10, 2012 4:42 pm

ejames wrote:
I would-if I could-buy only artisan pipes. But my budget won't allow it. I have one, A Tim West that a friend picked up cheaply at a flea market! Evidently they didn't know much about pipes. My friend sold it to me a for a song IMO.
I love to go to their websites and spent some time drooling and thinking(as a hobbyist pipe maker) why can't I make 'em look like that!

Been thinkin' I should sell off a bunch of my drug store pipes and get another.

I spent a lot of time buying buying factory pipes and eventually, when I did the math, I discovered that if I saved the money from 3 factory pipes, I could buy 1 high end artisan pipe. Since then, I've only been buying artisan's works and have been a much happier collector and smoker as a result.
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