Where Quality Meets Passion. Est 2014

Beyond Pipes: What follows below are Question-Answer sessions with the pipe makers whose work is available here. I hope you enjoy it!



Q+A with Clark Layton of Sloth Pipes

DN: Before we get started, tell us a little about yourself. 
CL: I grew up from age six in State College Pennsylvania where I graduated high school in 2003. I make pipes with high technical quality from the best materials. Each pipe I make starts out as a raw block of the best Greek Briar sent directly to my shop from my Briar Cutter in Greece, and every stem starts out as a solid rod of high quality Ebonite or Cast Acrylic.

DN: What got you into hand made pipes?
CL: What I like about handmade pipes is making them. In 2012 my younger brother wanted to try to make a tobacco pipe for himself after seeing some pipes that my older brother had made. I decided to make a pipe with him. I enjoyed it very much. Now here I am making pipes full time.

DN: What is your greatest achievement as a pipe maker?
CL: I don't know. That kind of question is hard for me to answer.

DN: What has been your biggest struggle/ challenge?
CL: Pipe and stem design has been my biggest struggle/challenge

DN: Do you have any pipe makers you draw inspiration from or admire?
CL: I admire many pipe makers, there is not much money in handmade pipe making. Many guys do it because they enjoy it, I think.

DN: When you're not in the shop, what hobbies do you have to fill the time?
CL: I don't have any free time to fill, although everyday I take my dog Gus to a farm and let him run outside.

DN: How many pipes do you make a year?
CL: Between 50 - 200

DN: What is your ideal smoking setting?
CL: I smoke in my shop while working. I smoke whichever pipe is closest and whichever tobacco I can find.

DN: What is your favorite pipe show, and why?
CL: I don't have a favorite.

DN: Do you take commissions? If so, what is that process like?
CL: I take commissions , at this point it would be 4 months until I can start on a new pipe.

DN: What kind of pipe is your favorite to make? 
CL: My favorite pipe to make is a pipe that is sold.

DN: If you could pick one pipe maker to hang out with for a day and learn from, who would it be and why?
CL: I am not going to answer this a question because I may meet this person in the future.

DN: What is the coolest pipe in your collection? How did you come by it?
CL: I don't consider myself a pipe collector. I have many pipes, most of them I made and would not sell. My most prized pipe is a collaboration pipe made by Josh Feldman and myself.

DN: Tell me one thing that most people wouldn't know about you.
CL: If I told you, most people may know.
DN: Touche.

DN: What is the coolest material you have used in making pipes?
CL: Briar

DN: Where do you find value in pipe making?
CL: Not in money. I find value in enjoying what I do everyday.

DN: Just as every burger joint has a 'secret sauce' to make their burgers stand out, what do you think sets you apart from the crowd with your work?
CL: Probably the reasonable price.

DN: What is the best way to get in touch with you? (phone, email, website)
CL: www.slothpipes.com  www.laytonpipes.com  All my contact info is on these websites.


Q+A with Mark Stout of M. Stout Pipes

DN: Before we get started, tell us a little about yourself.
MS: I was born and raised in Orange County which is located in Southern California. It's located in-between Los Angeles and San Diego along the California coast. I have lived here my entire life. Living in SoCal the deserts, mountains & ocean are all within an hours drive away. I began making pipes in 2011 as a hobby at first and it has slowly turned into a business.

DN: What got you into hand made pipes?
MS: I have been around pipes and pipe smokers my entire life. My father was a pipe smoker and as a young boy I always looked forward to going with him to the tobacco shop to pick up his favorite blends. When I began smoking pipes I was fascinated with the art and functionality of pipes. Finding a creative balance within the art and still maintaining the functionality of what a pipe is what I'm supposed to do. 

DN: What is your greatest achievement as a pipe maker?
MS: That's a really tough question to answer. I think that is something that would be better answered by other pipe carvers in regards to my work. My body of work has definitely evolved over the last few years so on a personal level I would have to say my style has been streamlined and simplified to focus more on shapes and creating a flow to my pipes would be my personal greatest achievement as a artist.

DN: What has been your biggest struggle/ challenge?
MS: I guess one of the most challenging aspects in pipe making for me has been creating traditional shaped pipes. There are so many subtle qualities to a classic shape that once you discover the subtleties there is a lot of trial and error in executing them. The majority of my work is centered around classic shapes. I feel I must have an strong understanding of  "Classic Shapes" and the ability to create them before I begin to explore more freehand style of pipes. I would also have to include stem making as another challenging aspect to pipe making.  The marriage of two different mediums (natural/man made) is always a challenge to do well. The transition between the two must be seamless, appearing to be as one. They must be able to compliment each other with neither one overpowering the other. It sounds simple but its a lot harder than you would think.

DN: Do you have any pipe makers you draw inspiration from or admire?
MS: There as so many pipe makers that I get inspiration from that I wouldn't know where to begin. Many of these carvers continue to raise the bar of excellence in pipe making, in turn driving the industry as a whole to new heights. For me, developing a relationship with some of these pipe makers on a more personal level has helped me understand and appreciate their style, understanding where they are at and where they are headed in the future. I like to look at their work, their use of shape and flow to help me find inspiration in a continuing evolution of my own work. Style is not something that can be forced. It's something that evolves over years of experimentation with different techniques, materials and the inspiration of others. Style is a living, breathing animal that continues to evolve.

DN: When you're not in the shop, what hobbies do you have to fill the time?
MS: I guess first and foremost would be spending time with friends and family. I also have a passion for riding motorcycles. I have traveled through roughly 40 states in the U.S. and a few provinces in Canada on 2 wheels. I plan several trips each year with one big trip usually in the summer months to meet up with friends the share the same love of the Harley Davidson's "Road Glide". A large group of friends (150-200 of us) meet up at a predesignated location somewhere in the U.S. for some group rides & social events. We also like to find local charities in the region in need of support.

DN: How many pipes do you make a year?
MS: I'm currently making somewhere between 50 to 75 pipes a year. I try not to get to caught up in pushing them out the door. The most important thing to me is that what goes out the door is the best it can be. I find sometimes I need to walk away from something I'm working on for awhile to take a break and come back to it with a new set if eyes. It can take a few minutes or a few days of sitting in a high traffic area in the shop. That gives me a chance to take quick glances from many different angles to figure out if its where it needs to be in regards to shaping. Sometimes it a smooth process from start to finish, other times not so much!

DN: What is your ideal smoking setting?
MS: For me, I think the most important criteria is for my ideal smoking experience would be with who I'm sharing the experience with. I enjoy meeting people from all different walks of life and having the opportunity to learn something. I think God gave me two ears but only one mouth for a reason. As for what pipe or what tobacco I'm smoking is less important to me. If I had to pick though I would probably be smoking some Dunhill Standard mixture in my favorite petite Dublin. The drink would coffee, definitely coffee!!

DN: What is your favorite pipe show, and why?
MS: I think all of the the shows have their own flavor to them and I like them all for what and where they are. If I have to pick a favorite I think I would have to say It would be the West Coast Pipe Show in Las Vegas, NV. Other than the fact that it's within driving distance of my home I think the environment is great for pipe makers and pipe collectors to get together and socialize in a relaxing intimate setting. The fact that it was the first show I attended and I consider it my "home" show might have something to do with my choice as well.

DN: Do you take commissions? If so, what is that process like?
MS: I do like to take on commissions. Most of them are generated from previous works of mine. If someone sees something they like and ask me to recreate it I'm always up to the task but I do relate to them that all of my work is a -one of a kind- piece and there will be some variations from all of my previous work. This is to ensure that each piece is a original creation. Some variations are as small as an 1/8th" here or there and other design elements are a little more obvious. This ensures that the artistic expression is not hindered.  Once the pipe is finished it is photographed for final approval. Only then is the pipe prepared for shipment & payment requested. 

DN: What kind of pipe is your favorite to make? 
MS: I think my favorite shape to make is a Billiard. I find it a challenge to get all aspects of a well made billiard executed perfectly.

DN: If you could pick one pipe maker to hang out with for a day and learn from, who would it be and why?
MS: Gosh, there are so many pipe makers that I would love to have an opportunity to work with it's kind of hard to single just one out. I hope to visit Steve Liskey after the New Year . I absolutely admire his work and have a great respect for who he is as a person. We have developed a friendship over the past few years and I'm looking forward to spending some shop time together.  I also hope to make the trip to BriarLab for an opportunity work with Nate King and Michael Linder in the coming months. I've been working with the lab for a while now and I'm anxious to spend a few days in the shop with the boys. 

DN: What is the coolest pipe in your collection? How did you come by it?
MS: I think the coolest pipe in my collection is one that belonged to my Father. He had smoked it for years before he stopped smoking. It was a little rough on the eyes but I cleaned it up taking great care as to not disturb the patina of the pipe in any way. I don't bring it out often. Its a special occasion pipe for sure. 

DN: Tell me one thing that most people wouldn't know about you.
MS: I worked as a delivery driver for UPS for 28 years. I retired about 2 years ago and have been making pipes full time ever since. I have not shaved since the day I walked out the door.

DN: What is the coolest material you have used in making pipes?
MS: I've played around with exotic woods as accents on some of my work but nothing too crazy. I guess in the evolution of my style I tend to go with the 'less is more' philosophy as of late. I don't really have an interest in making a pipe that is too fragile to put in your pocket for a night on the town. Gritty enough for a dive bar, classy enough for a formal night out.

DN: Where do you find value in pipe making?
MS: Once again, another very hard question to answer. I guess on a personal level, being an artist, it gives me an outlet to express myself in a media that I have a passion for. I am continually amazed how many different interpretations of say a Dublin shape come from so many different artists. The same materials, same tooling, yet the final results vary so much. This is art!! I would also like to add that the pipe community is so open to sharing ideas amongst other pipe makers which I feel breeds growth to the industry as whole.
  
DN: Just as every burger joint has a 'secret sauce' to make their burgers stand out, what do you think sets you apart from the crowd with your work?
MS: I don't know if I have really discovered what my "Secret Sauce" is yet. I just keep pushing forward in the development of an 'American Craftsman' style of pipes. Slightly rustic, yet refined, with an emphasis on classic designs. I am always trying to find a balance between simplicity and style.

DN: What is the best way to get in touch with you?
MS: I have a web site http:www.mstoutpipes.com where some of my work is available for sale. 
I also try to stay active on Instagram @mstoutpipes. I really like this forum of social media. It gives me a chance to connect with pipe makers as well as pipe collectors to see and show some of my most recent work as well as the work of other pipe makers. 
I can also be contacted at my email address: mstoutpipes@gmail.com. Or you can just pick up the phone (949)842-3446 and we can discuss a commission piece. 


Q+A with RobE Bartholomew of RobE's Art

DN: Before we get started, tell us a little about yourself. 
RB: I've been a pipemaker professionally since 2013, but started in 2003. I'm an academically trained artist working with a Master of Fine Arts Degree teaching classes for Western Michigan University, and a few colleges around the area. I work in the theatre department and I'm a working artist living in Kalamazoo, Michigan.

DN: What got you into hand made pipes?
RB: I fell in love with artisan pipes, the quality, finish, and engineering; but I couldn't grapple with the price tag-- so I had to learn how to make pipes on my own so I could own and smoke those kinds of pipes.

DN: What is your greatest achievement as a pipe maker?
RB: For me, it's more of a quest of being the experience in everything I do. Teaching, painting, cooking, and living-- It's more about removing the sense of dualism and being the experience rather than being an observer or a participant. Pipe making is no different than painting to me. I'll say that there are rare moments when the perfect experience does occur, and that would be the greatest accomplishment.

DN: What has been your biggest struggle/ challenge?
RB: Relying on my own intuition and limiting the input of other peoples opinions. Someone else's opinion or viewpoint isn't always the best path for me, and vice versa. It's a lot like golf.

DN: Do you have any pipe makers you draw inspiration from or admire?
RB: I appreciate and draw inspiration from the Danes and Japanese Masters. Nobody specifically, but I'm in love with the style and grace that they're able to achieve. I don't want to put anybody on a pedestal. Those guys are great because they followed their own path, I'd like to do the same in my own way.

DN: When you're not in the shop, what hobbies do you have to fill the time?
RB: Mountain Biking, Snowboarding, working with my dog Oliver, working with leather, listening to music, and spending time with people I care about.

DN: How many pipes do you make a year?
RB: I make about 15-40 per year, sometimes more, sometimes less. This year was a light year for me because I rediscovered my love for mountain biking. I'd like to get back in the shop a great deal this upcoming year.

DN: What is your ideal smoking setting?
RB: It depends on my mood and finnicky Michigan weather. I prefer outdoors, in the woods, by a fire; but also love sitting in my living room with a book in my lap with a tasty drink nearby. Again, just depends on my mood and a million variables. I enjoy smoking with friends in my pipe club, but also enjoy my alone time.

DN: What is your favorite pipe show, and why?
RB: That's a no-brainer. Chicago! The enormity, the opportunity to meet with pipe makers from across the globe, the gigantic smoking tent, the hospitality.. it just can't be beat.

DN: Do you take commissions? If so, what is that process like?
RB: Yes I do take commissions. I start with a conversation with my client to bounce ideas around, and begin the lengthy process of designing and sketching their idea. Then I'll show them the design, and we go from there. I do like to sit down with prospective customers as it makes the process more expedient and enjoyable, but email correspondence is fine.

DN: What kind of pipe is your favorite to make? 
RB: I've probably made more danish inspired eggs than anything else, and those are fun for me. But honestly my answer changes with every pipe I make. It's the byproduct of making art rather than just making a product.

DN: If you could pick one pipe maker to hang out with for a day and learn from, who would it be and why?
RB: Tokutomi. I like his aesthetic, engineering, and overall craftsmanship. Japanese quality differs so much from what we know here in America. Besides, I think it would be neat to sit down and have a lengthy chat with a Japanese pipe maker who has an eye and penchant for understanding great pipe craft.

DN: What is the coolest pipe in your collection? How did you come by it?
RB: A meerschaum that I picked up to commemorate the first commissioned art piece I ever made.

DN: Tell me one thing that most people wouldn't know about you.
RB: I HATE musicals. Even working in theatre, I can't stand them.

DN: What is the coolest material you have used in making pipes?
RB: Titanium or Ebony. Titanium is extremely difficult to work with, but with the right machinery it's amazing how light, durable, and shiny it can be. I also like working with Ebony because of how it machines on a lathe. It's not cutting it, it's more like shaving it. The smell is to die for! It also finishes really well.

DN: Where do you find value in pipe making?
RB: There is grace in every moment, in every motion. At the end of the process, there is this little thing that didn't exist previously. It is pretty neat when another person likes the thing so much they must have it. But eventually, I would like to keep and smoke more of my pipes.

DN: Just as every burger joint has a 'secret sauce' to make their burgers stand out, what do you think sets you apart from the crowd with your work?
RB: Nothing. Being candid with you, I'm not special in any way or form. I'm out there trying to do one thing at a time, and do it well, and move onto the next thing. Trying to find that focus, that attention to detail, that consciousness; that's what I aim for. If that's secret sauce, good on you.

DN: What is the best way to get in touch with you?
RB: Email: robesart@hotmail.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/RobEs-Art-119965798029776/

DN: And finally-- a curveball: Ask me anything!
RB: Why is it that "civilized" societies act less human towards one another while exploiting the environment that sustains them than indigenous tribal communities?
DN: Greed.

 



Q+A with Brandon Brooks of Brandon Brooks Pipes

DN: Before we get started, tell us a little about yourself. 
BB: I am originally from Aiken, SC but now live in Georgetown, KY just outside of Lexington, KY. I have been making pipes close to 9 years.

DN: What got you into hand made pipes?
BB: I bought an inexpensive pipe and being a person that likes to know how things tick, I wanted to try and make some to expand my collection. 

DN: What is your greatest achievement as a pipe maker?
BB: In 2015 I was involved with 2 Pipe of the Year projects. 

DN: What has been your biggest struggle/ challenge?
BB: Truly honing in the fine details.  They are subtle but make all the difference. 

DN: Do you have any pipe makers you draw inspiration from or admire?
BB: Many including Michael Lindner, Nate King, Bruce Weaver, Chris Morgan, Hekthor Wiebe

DN: When you're not in the shop, what hobbies do you have to fill the time?
BB: I teach and perform music.  I was a percussion major in college and still stay active today.

DN: How many pipes do you make a year?
BB: Last year I made 84 of my own and was involved in many other collaborations.

DN: What is your ideal smoking setting?
BB: Usually it's alone in the quiet of my shop or on my couch after working.  I love to sit with friends though as well.  I have a rotation of tobaccos but always come back to Stokkebye Luxury Twist Flake and Stokkebye English Oriental Supreme. I usually accompany this with coffee or espresso.

DN: What is your favorite pipe show, and why?
BB: I love Chicago because of the hustle and bustle of the show.  The people that come to that show are so enthusiastic.

DN: Do you take commissions? If so, what is that process like?
BB: Absolutely.  Pipe commission terms are pretty simple and straight forward. 

It's 1/2 down (usually a little under) non-refundable deposit. 
Balance + Shipping is due just before I ship.
I take PayPal and all Major Credit Cards.  PayPal is preferred. 
I love working closely with a customer to take the picture in their mind to reality. 

DN: What kind of pipe is your favorite to make? 
BB: #1 Billiard #2 Bulldog (right now anyway. lol)

DN: If you could pick one pipe maker to hang out with for a day and learn from, who would it be and why?
BB: If I can choose between living makers and broken pipes, Bo Nordh.  He epitomized mastery and innovation. 

DN: What is the coolest pipe in your collection? How did you come by it?
BB: A Meerschaum Eagle Claw I purchased at the Columbus show. I got a steal of a deal.  

DN: Tell me one thing that most people wouldn't know about you.
BB: I am a huge Frank Zappa fan.

DN: What is the coolest material you have used in making pipes?
BB: I have some awesome custom stem material and love coming up with finishes to compliment or contrast.

DN: Where do you find value in pipe making?
BB: I love the creative process. 

DN: Just as every burger joint has a 'secret sauce' to make their burgers stand out, what do you think sets you apart from the crowd with your work?
BB: Color
 
DN: What is the best way to get in touch with you?
BB: Phone Call/Text: 859-559-1540
Instagram: @brandonhbrooks, and Facebook: Brandon Brooks



Q+A with Bill Walther of Walther Pipes

DN: Before we get started, tell us a little about yourself.
BW: I live and work in Arlington, Texas. I bought a bag of briar in about 1975, and made my first few pipes - made a few each year since, while pursuing a day-to-day living. From 1984 until 2013, I worked at Parkland Hospital, in Dallas, starting as a project manager, and moving up to VP of Facilities and Engineering and Director of Real Estate. I retired in 2013, and immediately began making pipes full-time.   

DN: What got you into hand made pipes?
BW: I loved and admired the higher grade pipes in the shops (no internet then :-), but couldn't afford them. I wanted to see if I could produce some pipes of my own that I could be really pleased with.

DN: What is your greatest achievement as a pipe maker?
BW: My pipe making is just a continuation of my previous life, only much more relaxed and rewarding because I'm doing something I love - maybe attaining that condition is my highest achievement.

DN: What has been your biggest struggle/ challenge?
BW: In the carver community, there are currently a remarkable number of exceptional talents whom I consider artists, and certainly perfectionists (and thankfully, many are friends). We all have the same goal and challenge - to produce the most beautiful, the most perfect and most inspired work we can. Obviously, the precondition to that is they have to be properly engineered to smoke great and last a lifetime. 

DN: Do you have any pipe makers you draw inspiration from or admire?
BW: Yes, many. Some have passed on, but there are many still producing beautiful work every day. Some are quite young, and some are older and well-seasoned. A number of these talents are USA pipe makers. Their age is not relevant to me - it's their single-minded dedication to producing the best they can that matters to me. Their work ranks solidly with the best in the world. There are also pipe makers on virtually every other continent whom I admire and appreciate, whether their work is similar to mine or as different as day and night - it's their dedication to their own vision and the commitment to producing the highest level of beauty, balance and perfection possible, that I value most.

DN: When you're not in the shop, what hobbies do you have to fill the time?
BW: I still have an interest in watches and clocks (particularly antique). I used to repair these for a living in the distant past, and will still occasionally work interesting or unusual clocks. 

DN: How many pipes do you make a year?
BW: Probably in the range of 50 or 60

DN: What is your ideal smoking setting?
BW: I like a quiet setting because, as my friends know, I'm quite hard of hearing. I love the good company of good friends, but unfortunately have few nearby of similar interests. I can be very happy, though, just sitting in the garden on a mild evening, pondering whatever comes to mind. I tend to smoke only one or two blends for years at a time, with only occasional exploration. For a number of years, I have smoked Peterson's University Flake and Royal Yacht. A cup of strong coffee made from freshly-ground beans is hard to beat as a surrogate companion. 

DN: What is your favorite pipe show, and why?
BW: Vegas and Chicago are pretty much a toss-up. Selfishly, I'd say my best sales have occurred at these shows, but also the variety and the presence of so many great friends and friends-to-be is a big incentive.

DN: Do you take commissions? If so, what is that process like?
BW: I like commissions. I enjoy hearing what rings another person's bell, and trying to ring it loudly. I'll start, of course, with a dialogue by email or phone, and then produce some sketches to exchange. Lots of questions about style, color, stem type and material, weight and size, blast or not, chamber size/depth, etc. Most of my customers are very flexible, and I'll frequently have just a few parameters they consider important, with instruction to just "do your thing with it".

DN: What kind of pipe is your favorite to make? 
BW: I like variety, so my pipes tend to be quite varied in style. I do have a particular affinity for the snail or nautilus, though.

DN: If you could pick one pipe maker to hang out with for a day and learn from, who would it be and why?
BW: I won't answer that, because I have so many friends of a high level whom I could undoubtedly learn from. I'll just say, there are many I'd love to hang out with.

DN: What is the coolest pipe in your collection? How did you come by it?
BW: My "collection" now consists mostly of my own "shop" pipes. I do have an old Charaton Freehand Relief that was one of my first garage-sale finds - still smoke it pretty frequently, and it's an old friend. The coolest pipe I've had was a Sixten freehand that I long-since sold. The main reason it was cool, is that I sold it for about $3000 more than I paid :-)

DN: Tell me one thing that most people wouldn't know about you.
BW: I had only 3 wisdom teeth from birth - long gone though. This has been a source of embarrassment to me all my life, and being only 3/4 as wise as others may explain some of my feelings of inadequacy.

DN: What is the coolest material you have used in making pipes?
BW: Nothing too exotic, but real English boxwood is, in my opinion, the wood of the gods. Love how it looks, works, polishes and wears. Wouldn't recommend trying to make a whole pipe out of it, though.

DN: Where do you find value in pipe making?
BW: Doing something I love and producing something of lasting value and beauty to myself and others. Producing  something another person can enjoy and value and continue to do so for a lifetime. Producing something that can certainly outlive me, and go on "living" itself, almost indefinitely.   

DN: Just as every burger joint has a 'secret sauce' to make their burgers stand out, what do you think sets you apart from the crowd with your work?
BW: I do not use a sauce, per se. My formula is to use excellent briar that I can know was properly treated and dried, using exacting internal geometry in the making and drilling of the pipe, shooting for graceful and creative design and execution that yields a pipe that is comfortable and pleasing to hold and smoke, and of course, aiming to produce a little work of art that I and others can appreciate and be proud of.
 
DN: What is the best way to get in touch with you?
BW: Email is best (waltherpipes@aol.com). Phone is fine, though - 817-543-0237
Right now, unfortunately and due to my e-incompetence, my website is completely out-of-date. It may be useful as a gallery, but don't try to order from it, as all those pipes are long-gone - instead contact me by email or follow me on Facebook under Bill Walther.