Sunday, January 4, 2015

An Artist Study 2015 (The Billiard)


Over the next few months I am going to be exploring both my own creative process and the depths of my craft.  I will not stop making other shapes during this time but I will be making 1-3 billiard pipes every week.  Ultimately I will make 20 Billiards, with the last 7 being a seven day set complete with a stand.  The purpose of this experiment, (besides making some great pipes) is to reinforce skills that will always be required, but also to do this with a very discernible outcome.

the Comoy 127 perhaps the quintessential billiard shape
The billiard is the classic shape, of all the classic shapes.  It is the tradition behind traditional shapes.  It is the most collected and the most popular shape.  Many shapes are based upon this one.  And it follows some very clear rules:

a Dunhill, considered by many to be the ultimate billiard
1. The billiard is symmetrical
2. The billiard's bowl has a slight (2-3%) tilt forward
3. The height of the billiards bowl from the top of the shank is equal to the length of the shank
4. The length of the stem is equal to the length of the stummel and shank, or in simpler terms the stem equals half the length of the total pipe.
5. The Billiard does not have straight walls but a very gradual belly to it.  This belly is largest just below half way, creating the most wood where it will be most needed when smoking.  This belly then gradually returns and rounds under to meet the shank.

The truth about the billiard is simple, you either did it correctly, or you did not.  It may be finished poorly, with an ugly stem on it, and have zero aesthetic appeal, yet it will still be a proper billiard.  On the other hand it can be gorgeously finished with some wonderful flair and originality and yet not be a proper billiard.  There is very little wiggle room here.  Which is why it is such an amazing study as a craftsman.  It will be done properly, or not and will be judged so.  This is a daunting challenge.  With many of my favorite pipes you can apply objective rules to them, yet they are very open to interpretation.  Not the billiard, so as a craftsman I want to challenge myself to make exactly what I set out to make.

Tom Eltang makes very elegant classics
But here is the big question:  If everything is preordained, if all of my choices are taken from me... how can I as an artist allow my creativity to flow.  How can art come from deliberate form and function.  How can I make a work of art, that is also a billiard.  The easy answer is with finish.  Color, texture and sheen can add magic, its true, but is there something more?  Is there something about my own hands, my motions, my emotions and my creativity which can transcend the design, and create art?  This is what I intend to find out over the next few months.  And I plan on sharing this adventure with you.  Every thought, picture and pipe along the way.

I hope you share your own thoughts along the way. And please, feel free to take part in the study by purchasing one of these works of my hands.


Friday, April 25, 2014

been hard at work for the Chicago show

So I have been very busy getting ready for the pipe show.  I have also been making pipes all along, just been neglecting my site.  I am currently  building a more normal website, but will use this as a touching point until its completed.  If you want to ask about any pipes posted here, or to commission a pipe from me just email me at revspipes at gmail

Well here is a selection of stuff I have been up to

thanks for looking


Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Practice doesn't make perfect!!!

We have all heard that practice makes perfect... well it just isn't true.  If you are practicing something incorrectly, you can get really good at doing something incorrectly.  You can excel at it.  You can be the best person in the world at doing something wrong.  And hey, who knows, you may wind up finding an entire clientele that likes your brand of perfect failure.  But that isn't the point.  The point is, that practice doesn't make perfect, perfect practice makes perfect.

When I started wrestling in high school we were taught to do certain moves.  My coach was a former team captain at UCLA (when they still had a wrestling team) and placed in the collegiate nationals.  He taught us the right way to do things.  And if we practiced doing the moves the correct way, over and over, no matter how tired we were, no matter how bored we were, we became very good at that move.  In fact, if we practiced it perfectly, it became very difficult for us to do it wrong.

What does this have to do with pipes?  and specifically my pipes?  Well, I am going to be practicing making a couple of shapes and really working on perfecting my technique.  It is my desire to do the pipe making equivalent of Michael Jordan not leaving the court until he sinks a thousand jump shots.  Of course I am not Michael Jordan, nor do I get paid to practice making pipes all day.  But I am dedicating the next few months to perfecting my technique. 

This will be a life long journey I am sure, but I am going to dedicate myself to becoming the best that I can possibly be.

Thanks so much to Jeff Gracik, Cornelius Maenz, Grant Batson Tyler Beard and so many others for the inspiration.


Thursday, November 21, 2013

sometimes I make other stuff

So a dear friend asked me to make a cane for him, but he has a very specific style

so I did

can you dig it?

I knew that you could


pipe for sale Billiard with a faux horn shank and a german ebonite stem $145

Think this is a very elegant pipe, contact me if interested

revspipes at gmail



Tuesday, October 22, 2013

Someone has got to get this pipe

less than 9 hours to go and still the high bid is only 229 which is ridiculous come take a look rare eltang capped rhodesian