Holy cow, as I searched back through the archives of TPC photos I realized, it has been nearly three years. I sat in my chair for awhile just thinking back, the first profile picture of the page was my collection of about 12 pipes, My latest wander of mind is as follows......
It all started with me... as most have read I had a terrible taste in my mouth from a few online pipe smoking communities... I can do this, so I did....nearly 3 years ago I made a facebook community page, I hit like.... I liked my page for a few weeks... just me, I loved every one of my posts, they were FANTASTIC! I kept posting, everyday....for weeks.... 3 months exactly before I had 30 likes, I never missed a day, 3 likes on a fantastically photographed refurbished Peterson I posted, one even commented.....Nice job! I instantly responded, THANK YOU SO MUCH! I had a taste of my first real interaction with a member. I will not waste time repeating the story again but it continued at a snails pace..... Today..... nearly 4600 likes on TPC facebook, 300 on TPC Global pipe club, 1800 on instagram, over 1000 subs on youtube, A successful TPC Pipers forums, Blogs, interviews, website, webstore, and now finally retail....... 3 years! TPC is not a pop up try to make money venture, I have put thousands of hours of my life into this and I love it! Nashville show is coming up, I was offered a place to stay by a prominent Indie artisan pipe maker, amazing! few weeks ago I was interviewed on Olie's oompaul.com podcast to great reviews, Sick! I was surprised by a cover with me on it on a new up and coming Tobacco magazine.....what? I....I am being approached by makers to retail their pipes....What!? I am just a supervisor at the city, I can run a shovel, I wear steel toe boots to work and have tan lines on my hands from wearing gloves all day....what? All these whats? But for fear of sounding arrogant which I am not, I am not surprised, I am the kind of person that never quits, sure I have failed, many times, but I brush off and try again, have you failed? I hope your answer is yes, because if you have not failed, you have not pushed yourself hard enough, you have not put yourself out there, maybe you gave up too early? Maybe you folded under the pressure of others jealousy and rumors? The picture on the top of this page is a younger me, actually I believe it to be the first or one of the first "selfies" of me with my pipe...millions would follow, haha. I love this hobby, or some may say way of life, I will continue to make a difference, I will not fold under jealousy and lies, I am not in competition with anyone, how could I fail? I will keep the core values I set very early on, right from the start really, I still love to see comments, I still love to chat with members. There are some big things coming from TPC, I promise you that, it may take 3 more years, it may take triple the numbers, I will not stop, I can not stop....I owe it to all of you, the many makers, retailers, members of all the branches of TPC, the journey has really just begun....Sweet Smokes my friends
Mike Lancaster~ Founder/President/Proud Member of TPC and the pipe community at large. Thank you! Thank you!
Well as I slowly complete some of my biggest projects to date, my list continues to grow, ideas continue to flow quickly through my head as a sit and relax with pipe in hand, my continuous sentences are proof the way my mind works, I now constantly carry a notebook, filled with ideas, people I have to make shipments promised to, as I smoke I browse mainly TPC and the branches of such, but occasionally I wander to other venues, most of which are fantastic, so many great blogs and pipe pages on facebook, the awesome upsurge in local pipe clubs that just make me smile from ear to ear, yet a handful of die hard "old school" pipers refuse to embrace the change that is happening, the many different levels of pipe makers, that give a range to pipe smokers, not everyone can afford a $500-1000 pipes, there is a market for the new makers, pricing of pipes is a huge debate, something I am working on as we speak, I have talked in earlier posts of pipes 101 that I am positive will come under scrutiny, but I feel obligated as a voice to address, there are levels of indie artisans, and many,many variables come into play as to why a certain pipe may be double or more of another pipe, there are reasons, we will try to untangle the mess of politics and misinformation with education and fact based research, will it solve the pipe worlds problem of properly pricing every pipe.....absolutely not, ultimately a pipe is worth what someone will pay for it...bottom line, things are changing in this centuries old hobby, but what I hope...I beg really, is that the brotherhood of the briar, the friendships formed, the positive affects of putting fire to bowl will never change, that we will always have quality pipes at every range, and we will all continue to have many Sweet Smokes...
Mike Lancaster- Founder/President/Pipe Smoker and collector. TPC
As I smoked yesterday evening into darkness on my first of 3 days away from my day job, my mind wandered, more freely than as of late, where do we go now? It is only a matter of time someone takes my idea and attempts to improve on it, beauty of a free market, as long as their intentions are good, nothing bad can come of getting pipe smokers together. My latest wander of mind is as follows....roughly 2 plus years ago I could not find a place I felt welcome as a young new pipe smoker, I was eager to learn more about this centuries old hobby or some, as me would say, lifestyle
. Tobacco Pipe Collectors was born, me and my Savinelli 2nd and Nording signature would name a Group Tobacco Pipe Collectors?... I have said it before and still believe it that a collection is anything more than 1, at 1 you are a pipe smoker at 2 you make the amazing leap to collector...haha. Over 150 pipes later a bunch of amazing Indie artisan makers, of all levels, 4200 people now join me and TPC on this journey on Facebook, thousands more on other social media, I did not major in marketing...Hell, I never even took a marketing class! But I learned quickly, as in real life, the way I was raised, if you treat people the way you want to be treated, never give up, be honest and good things will come of it. As I hinted to earlier there will be others that come and go, there has been, and I welcome any growth to our great community. Where do we after we have become Global?
That is correct TPCers the global pipe club is now truly global, USA, UK, Sweden, China, Australia, Japan, and more joining us every day, I am mainly writing this to give some info to new members about what GPC is. http://www.tobaccopipecollectors.com/tpc-gpc-vendors-page.html
A page that will show you an up to date list of Preferred Vendors, folks we know, have done business with, many different levels of Pipe Makers from new hobbyist makers to high grade pipe makers, trusted online vendors and brick and mortar tobacco shops, this list is not finished...oh no, I am in constant communication with makers and shops, this list will continue to grow, as will our amazing community. We have some big plans for the community, and I am very excited to roll them out as we complete them, always open for suggestion as well! http://tobaccopipecollector.fatcow.com/store/index.html
a direct link to the TPC/GPC store if interested. With someof the membership monies we are in the process of unveiling a brand new, much more user friendly storefront, we will be able to highlight each maker more, also working on some advertising to help every maker not just makers retailed on our site.http://tobaccopipecollectors.websitetoolbox.com/
Take advantage of the Ad free forums we offer, a benefit to any pipers not just GPC members, a great group of pipe smokers.http://www.youtube.com/user/TobaccoPipeCollector?feature=mheeA Tobacco Pipe Collectors youtube channel for news, reviews or just funnin around.I want to thank every single person that has supported Tobacco Pipe Collectors in any way. Buckle up Pipe Smokers, the journey has just begun!Sweet Smokes! Mike Lancaster-Founder/President
So I do not fit the stereotypical male that collects pipes....high end at that, if certain makers saw me before i commissioned a pipe they may not have given me the time of day, 2 makers, 2 makers I will never purchase a pipe from, not that I can not afford them, not that they are not brilliant artisans, its the way they interacted with me at a show, can they make it up.... i do not know, I am a good judge of character, and certainly not a person that judges books by a cover, many of us are guilty of it.
Pipes are a passion of mine, the artistry, the shaping, finish the inlays and exotic woods, I do not judge a pipe by its cover either. I created TPC to bring all walks of life together, my favorite saying was, I do not care if you smoke a corn cob or a Dunhill, that stands true, but what I have noticed is a reverse in the thinking, who would spend that much for this pipe, there is no way it smokes that much better. True.......and False. I am putting in amazing hours, interviewing well known pipemakers, respected makers, some may remain nameless, some may welcome use of their name. Pipe School~ Pipes 101 is a learning experience for me as well, I am going to dissect a pipe down to its very fiber, over its many year journey into an artisans hands, a hobbyists hands or a pile at a factory, there are differences , and its time to get them out there, its time to find a standard. Am I the man.....? Fuck it! why not, I love tobacco pipes, every detail, lets see where these differences lie.
Pipe school will be blogs as this, your preface if you will, youtube, facebook and instagram for debate, I am not the all knowing, do not claim to be, Am I the new Hackert, God I hope so. Zero judgement, fact driven, smart minds. We will learn a lot together trust me, I will be wrong, correct me. You may have seen little spots popping out as examples of other hobbies on instagram or facebook, making it easier to understand the parallel, sit back, this is going to be several months, enjoy the ride, debate but keep it friendly. This is our community, White collar, Blue Collar, every race and creed, keep it together pipers! Sweet Smokes- Mike Lancaster~ TPC Founder/President
It has been a long time since I took some time to write down my thoughts, as a friendly reminder, I am not a writer, my words often carry on in one continuous sentence, much like my mind operates. The last few smokes I had alone... in silence, the same thoughts continue crossing my mind. My latest wander of mind, though really scattered are as follows.....
If you go back many blog pieces ago you will see a piece about why I started TPC, some of the history, the story of our growth and some future goals I had. Also included in that piece was a promise the main goal...the reason behind TPC would never change. Many see the recent projects, the changes on the website, for example retailing of pipes, as going against what TPC was and still is about, bottom line, Brothers and Sisters of the briar is number 1, the many great friends I have made, Indie Artisan Pipe Makers, Brick and Mortar shops and trusted online retailers of independent makers. Those are the glue that hold this hobby together, IT IS #1.
My struggle is this, folks think since we are retailing pipes, selling membership cards that TPC has changed, I have poured my heart into this project, poured our own money into it, if it was about money I would have done it a year and a half ago. Membership Cards.. Extra exposure to all the fantastic vendors that have joined the project, a chance for pipe smokers to save serious money, and a way to fund the website, forums, new gear and the cost of 2 huge contests a year, with many plans in the future.
Retailing of Pipes... Every maker I have been promoting for some time, with agreements that some day I would love to sell some pipes for them, these pipes are on consignment, and we pay the makers better than any other retailer around, another outlet for these guys to be seen.
I realize the majority of our great friends are very supportive, I did a YouTube video also explaining myself, this will be my final attempt to quiet the ones who will think what they want, regardless of what I say or write. I am not a business man, I had no intention of being a business owner, it happened, and my goal is to better the community, to improve this hobby we all love, rich, poor, Dunhill, Corn cob, still a zero judgement community of like minded people......
My mind is now clear, I will go outside tonight and light a beautiful Indie artisan pipe, I will continue to promote this hobby with the utmost respect to the history of tobacco and pipe. I will chat with several friends through the many avenues of social media, we will share a pipe from half way around the world from each other, I am not a writer, I am not a business man, I am a piper for life. Sweet Smokes my friends. Thanks for reading, and if you have any questions, comments, concerns get a hold of me any way you know.
Mike Lancaster-Founder/President Tobacco Pipe Collectors
TPC- Who or what got you interested in them?BB- Pipes are a thing beauty; functional art if you will. There is something so sophisticated and classic about a pipe. This could have been part of the interest for me but it is hard to say. I became more interested in the pipe itself a few years back when I decided that I wanted to feel that enjoyment of the “me-time” that comes along with it.
- TPC-How long have you been smoking pipes? BB-Well, I actually have been smoking pipes for a few years now but I “started” smoking a pipe many years ago when I was much younger. I ended up moving to cigars and then to the infamous nails. I quit smoking cigarettes six years ago and I haven’t looked back but I was finally able to occasionally enjoy a pipe about two years ago without feeling like I needed the nicotine, but more so wanted the enjoyment and relaxation time that coincides with smoking a pipe.
TPC- How long have you been making pipes? BB-I have been making pipes for about 2 years now but I have only started taking it seriously since May of 2012. This goes along with the point of me starting to smoke a pipe again. I decided that I would not smoke a pipe until I had made my own. I think that it is just my personality. I like to create; it is just something that has always been a part of me. I have always been an artistic person, whether it is writing or music or whatever canvas I have chosen. Making pipes allows me to express that creative side of me in a way that is also functional for use as well.TPC-Did you have a mentor? Or someone you talk to about Pipe Making?BB- I didn’t necessarily have a mentor when I began but I have definitely learned a lot from a lot of great people. Actually, you Mike have been a huge source of mentoring when it comes to my pipe making. Although you don’t make pipes yourself, you really encourage me to push myself further with the experience that you do have with the pipes that you own; thanks! Also, I have a great friend/client who really helps out a lot as well. He has smoked my pipes and he is a great source for critique. I am a never-ending learner, so when I get to sit with the amazing carvers that are out there I try to soak up all of the information that they tell me. To sum it all up, I appreciate all of the information and critique that everyone has given me.TPC- Do you have any background, for example art classes or woodworking that has helped your pipe making?
BB- As I said before, I have always been an artist person so I do believe that that has helped. I took a few years of woodshop back in high school and it was always an enjoyable time for me. I had the basics down from the woodshop classes but there was (and is) still so much to learn. I am a firm believer that the best way to learn something is to dive in and get your hands dirty. But, I do want to stress the importance of also doing some research and ensuring safety as well.TPC- What gives you inspiration or what process do you go through when thinking up new designs?BB- This is a great question. I am a nature lover hence the brand name “Briar Bird.” I find inspiration in the things that we experience in our everyday lives yet maybe we take for granted. I love to brainstorm my take on classic shapes while using inspiration from nature. Sometimes I will use a certain wood as an accent on a pipe and then I will do some research on that tree which leads me to what types of birds like to make their homes or eat from that tree. This is one way I will come up with the bird name for a pipe, although I do not name every pipe. Inspiration is everywhere so I try to take note of that when I am creating a new pipe.TPC- Who are some makers whose work you admire?BB- This is another great question. I am fortunate enough to be able to see so many great carvers’ works thanks to social media. Some of the makers who really blow my mind with their quality and craftsmanship are guys like Nate King, Bill Shalosky, Giovanni from Gio Pipes. I love seeing Mark Balkovec and Chris Morgan’s work. There are really so many amazing carvers out there. I really do admire a lot of carver’s works.TPC- What are some of your hobbies, other interests?BB- I am a music junkie. I love listening to it and making it as well. I could probably sit around with my buddies and talk about music for days. I also love literature and movies and I have just recently become a big sports fan as well. It was never a big deal to me before but I now find myself yelling at the TV when my favorite teams are losing (which is often being an Ohio sports fan…).TPC- You are constantly trying new designs, shapes, stem materials, is there any big ideas brewing in your head right now?BB- I have been mentally designing my “Raven” pipe for months now. I have certain aspects of it solidified but it just has not come out the exact way I want it to when I do a preliminary drawing of it. I am trying to slowly get away from acrylic materials although I do still use them on occasion. When it comes to stems I just don’t think you can beat ebonite (vulcanite). TPC- What are your long term goals at BriarBird pipes? Can we expect to see you around for a long time? BB- I will be around as long as people want me around. I love making pipes; it really has become a passion of mine. I really try to make a great pipe at a great price as well. My goals are to learn new things about the engineering and artistic aspects of the pipe. I want to get better and better with each pipe I make. I am approaching pipe number 100 very soon and my goal is to make it something very special. Eventually I would like to make some higher grade pipes under my name but I always want to continue the Briar Bird brand as well. Thank you Mike for the chance to be the TPC spotlight.
I have been chatting with Jason for several months now, he is one of the nicest, humblest guys I have ever met, It has been a huge honor to get to know him and call him a friend, his following is growing at a steady rate, and so is the quality of his pipes, a young man with natural talent and a huge willingness to learn, the sky is the limit, I always look forward to seeing J’s latest creations on Instagram and Facebook, and have found another lifelong friend, keep up the great work J! Sweet Smokes- Mike TPC
TPC - Where were you Born? Where do you reside currently? Can you tell us a little about it?Chris -
I was born in San Jose, CA in 1984. I currently live in the next town over called Los Gatos. Its a quiet little place at the base of the Santa Cruz Mountains. As luck would have it, I live on Main Street in said town. Pretty fitting I think. Los Gatos has an old timey feel to it. Most of the buildings and homes here are over 100 years old (including my house). I think the “feel” of this place lends itself to my craft. Since I participate in an old time line of work, its only right that it happens in place such as this. Now, usually when someone says their town has an “old timey” feel, they’re generally talking about a place where the pace of life is slower and everyone knows your name. This is not entirely the case here. For example, Los Gatos has a Ferrari dealership. We also have an Apple Store. Its not uncommon for everyone here to have nannies and some even have private chefs. To clarify, Los Gatos is almost a mix of two completely opposite ways of life... In short, it's both historical and opulent. With that said, since my business takes place both domestically and internationally, it doesn't really matter where I live. But I do love it here. There's a certain creative energy I get from this atmosphere. I think you'll be seeing it in my work more in the future. TPC - How long have you been smoking pipes? How did you get into it?Chris -
I've been smoking a pipes on and off for 10 years. In high school I picked up and old Shalom briar that my grandpa had laying around. It was a rough little thing. Chewed up stem, burnt rim; you know the story. I would take it and some really horrible mint chocolate Cavendish (the tobacconist said I'd love it) to the beach for bonfires with my friends. To be completely honest, I didn't really like it, other than the feeling of relaxation that I got from the slow methodical puffing. Flavor-wise, I was not a fan. Years later after college, I got back into smoking a pipe as a means of relaxation and as a way to connect with my grandpa. TPC - How Long have you been making pipes? Did you have a mentor? Who are some pipemakers you look up to? Chris -
Officially I've been making pipes (for profit as Morgan Pipes) since mid 2006. I started making pipes out of pure necessity, to be honest. I'll explain more in the next question about the reasons, but the beginnings of my pipemaking were very random and inexplicably driven. If you've ever done something in your life where people close to you would say “uuh, why are you spending so much time on this?” or “why are you so into this?”.... that's what this was like. I come from a very art based background. I was heavily into sculpting a ceramics in high school and have always been into art since I was very young. There's a lot more to that, but I wont bore you.
After college, I picked up pipe-smoking again and started to get interested in the depth of the hobby. The shapes, tobaccos, makers, etc. This led me to find Pimo in Vermont. They had a few “make your own pipe” kits. I figured with my art skills and recently absorbed knowledge about pipes, that I could make something better than the old pipes that I had from my grandpa. I got a kit and whittled away with my hacksaw and files and sandpaper. I ended up spending something like $300 on supplies to make that pipe and it didn't really turn out that great . At the time, I was really proud of it, but knew I could do much better. So I gave it another shot, and another, and another. Each time improving my shapes. I went on for about a year or two buying pre-drilled blocks from Pimo and then a friend of mine. I received some business at that point and began to sell my pipes to people on eBay. At this point a man named Rob Cooper decided my work was good enough to be carried in his eBay shop. This would go on for years with the stipulation that I start drilling and hand-cutting my stems. I agreed and a great partnership was formed. I was selling pipes anywhere from $200- 600 at that point. I'm not sure what happened, but all of a sudden, people wanted to know what I was all about. I would send Rob (coopersark on eBay) a pipe every week or so and it would be listed at 1 cent and sell 7 days later at auction. It was a great feeling to say the least. I felt like I had really made a name for myself.
This brings us to 2009 or so. A very strange thing happened around this time. For a 4-6 month period, every pipe I made, sold for over $1000 . One even sold for $3000! I was freaking out. I never would have thought that my prices would skyrocket like that. I was happy but stressed. I began to see some very nasty comments online about me and my pipes. Needless to say, these “haters” did not own any of my pipes. At the time I knew most of my customers personally. I did my best to handle the situation professionally, but to no avail. The sale really struck a nerve in the “I sit at my computer and type mean shit all day while I smoke my yello-bole” community. :) You cant please everyone. It took me awhile to recover from that one emotionally. I put down my tools and left the shop for a few months to re-evaluate my place in the business. I made one of the most important decisions of my career at that point. I stopped my PT magazine subscription, stopped going on forums, stopped looking at other guys pipes, and basically went back to the drawing board. Within months, I was putting out completely new shapes and finishes in a quality I had not be able to attain thus far. This went on for a few years until early 2011 when my grandpa passed away. He was my primary mentor and support throughout my early career. It's hard to talk about this because it's so fresh still, but he was a giant in my life. He had a very “f*ck em all” mentality. It kept me going. When he died, I put down my tools again and went back to the drawing board. This is when I began to sketch what would become the Briar Cigar. I had decided I needed something revolutionary to put me on the map. We will soon see if I made the right choice :)
As for mentors throughout my early career, Jeff Gracik was a big help to me, as was Andrew Marks, and Rob Cooper. I also received some help from Tom Eltang from time to time. I look up to him now as I did then, even though we speak almost weekly as friends now. It's tough to explain the feeling of speaking to your respective “Michel Jordan”, or “Joe Montana”. To take guidance from a personal hero is one of the most humbling and meaningful experiences one can have. A few months ago Tom called me on Skype from his hotel in Bologna, Italy. I picked up and was surprised to se him. I said “hey man, whats up?”. “Im bored”, Tom says in his thick Danish accent. And the conversation went from there. I feel honored to be friends with the likes of Tom Eltang. TPC - In our chats I know there were some life changing events that left you with some hard decisions, do you care to elaborate?
Well, I'm not sure how to explain this, but I'll do my best. Towards the end of high school, I had some severe stress and anxiety problems that were difficult to cope with. My best plan was to just finish high school and go to college and hope they would subside. I didn't know at the time, but I was taking myself too seriously. “Everything must be perfect”, I would think. I graduated and ended up going to Cal State Monterrey Bay with the intent of going into Marine Biology. Right from the start, my anxiety flared up again and I became overly stressed to the point where I didn't even want to be there anymore.
Keep in mind, I'm a left handed , artistic person. School was never my style of learning. I have always had to experience something hands on to learn more efficiently. If I wasn't interested in it, I didn't learn it. So after what I would consider a breakdown of everything I thought I was: mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. I left college. In retrospect, I don't think it had anything to do with the classes or tests. It just wasn't my path. I had always been black and white in my skills and learning. I am very good at things I'm good at, and I know a ton about what I'm interested in . I'm not sure why , but that's how it's always been.
When I was 10 my parents had me tested at a facility for learning impaired kids. They couldn't figure out why I was getting A+ grades in some classes and D’s in others. The test results came back that I was 2 points under a genius IQ. I've never really spoken about this before but I feel it's necessary for the story. My parents and the test giver thought I may have ADD, but I explained that I just wasn't interested in some subjects, so I was not able to absorb the subject matter. This is the “black and white” learning process I spoke of earlier.
Anyway, back on topic...... I came home from college after 2 years and was in the middle of one of the worst job markets in recent history. I didn't have a degree to speak of so I decided to pick up a trade. I went through classes to become an electrician and got my certification . I did the same with an AA in security management (not the rent-a-cop kind). Neither of these fields felt “right” to me, so I picked up the pipe-making as a hobby to keep busy. After awhile the pipes began to fill my wallet and the rest is history. The thing I always take away from this experience is that your best dreams can be realized through your worst nightmares. If I could have a re-do of the last 10 years, I wouldn't change anything.TPC - Your pipes are very unique, you often mix style with function, what got you experimenting with reverse calabash technology?
For me, pipes must always be a mix of style and function. I am very art based in my approach but I demand perfection from my work. Every detail most be clean and crisp and right. The reverse calabash technology that I am working with kind of just happened. I had no knowledge of other pipemakers making pipes with a reverse calabash feature. I had always wondered what another chamber would do to the pipe and being that I once was in high school hanging with a certain “crowd”, I was occasionally intimate with other pipes with multiple cooling chambers :) I figured it would be the same with tobacco pipes too.
My reasons for using the rev. cal. technology was not to cool the smoke, as many would claim it does. My plan was to force turbulence within the chamber, so that the smoke would literally precipitate moisture. Thus drying and cooling the smoke. Smoke, in a controlled environment will rarely carry much heat. It is the moisture within the smoke that carries the heat. If you can essentially “make it rain” inside the calabash chamber, you can effectively dry and cool your smoke. It's like when you have a pipe that smokes horribly wet. This is caused by restriction and turbulence. The effect is a bad smoking experience because the moisture collects and runs down and gets your tobacco wet and sours the pipe. My plan was to make the worst possible pipe (in a traditional sense), but then separate the reason for its bad performance from the stem and the tobacco chamber.
The reason my rev. cal. pipes are the shape they are is specifically for this reason. Upon smoking one bowl of a Virginia flake in the Wasp (one of my rev. cal. shapes) you can remove the stem and there will literally be a pool of moisture. Moisture that was never allowed to reach your mouth or the bottom of the tobacco chamber. It's a fantastic system (not to toot my own horn) and it really opens up the possibility of getting new flavors and essences from blends you are familiar with or have yet to try. Strange concept, but rooted in science and partially in my crazy thought process :) TPC - Your High grade pipes are masterpieces, how do you come up with the shapes/styles, does each block speak to you, or do you have the shape in your mind when carving?Chris -
My shapes are completely a compromise between the briar and myself. Briar, like most woods, has a sort of wild spirit that you must appease. I say this lightly as to not sound like a weirdo :) , but it's very true. Most people can tell a factory billiard from a hand-made one. That acknowledgment is the difference between letting the briar become a shape or forcing it to become something. I carve with the grain and play with the sub-categories of grain in a block to make the most aesthetically pleasing and best smoking pipe I can.TPC - One can tell by the product you put out that you think outside the box, growing up were you like that with everything?Chris -
All my life I've been like this . My Mom and Grandma used to say that I’m a “square peg in a round hole”. Meaning I always have thought outside the box. I do things because I feel it's the right way, even if it's the harder way. I still don't know why. :) I just see things differently. Sometimes this allows me to cut through the bullshit and see how something really is, and sometime it causes me to overcomplicate a process that should be very simple. TPC - Do you have any training in art or some artistic background that has helped you in making pipes?Chris -
I don't have any art training other than high school classes. I have always had a drive to create. I have worked in wood, clay, wax, metal, stone, paint, pencil, charcoal, mixed media, etc. I've done it all. Wood stuck for me. There's something about the warmth of wood. My experience as a ceramic artist in high school really gave me the “outside the box” approach to pipes. Ceramics can take any form, just like pipes. As a subtractory art (as I call it) once you remove a piece, you cant put it back on. You need to think ahead and “feel” the material. I think this really appeals to my problem solving side.TPC - Lets talk a bit about that little project you have going called The Briar Cigar, you imagine it would gain steam this fast? How Long has this project been in the works? What possessed you to start on this project?Chris -
Damn that's a good question. The Briar Cigar really started as a funny shape to show my friends on Facebook. I had a few orders and then the requests really started coming in. It got to a point where I said, “I may have something here”. I decided to file a patent in the US and internationally, get my trademarks set up and incorporate the company. This way we can come out with other products and let it turn into a real brand. People have really gotten into the shape and want more. I had no idea it would be such a huge product, but I’m excited with the turnout. I've been working on it for a little over a year now. I keep having to explain how it works, but I think that speaks for how unique the pipe is. There just isn't anything like it. The Briar Cigar is the only production reverse calabash pipe in the world. I'm very proud of this achievement. Hopefully we can get some more firsts out there.TPC - Your YouTube channel “morganpipes”: We at TPC always look forward to seeing the latest news and updates. Who got you into doing vids? And who are a few you follow religiously?Chris -
Yes, I think I'm on my 8th vid now. I put out a new one every couple of weeks. Astroman2112 (James) actually got me into making a vid. And then Dan (brainitch) kind of kept me going. Now I'm on Skype and youtube all damn day! We do a pipe-n-Skype meet each week and I've met a lot of new people. As for the youtube followers, I won't name names, but there are a few notable youtube presenters and celebrities that enjoy my vids. They aren't always super entertaining but I mean them to be more of a vlog and news outlet for my customers and friends. I don't always have much time these days to catch up with everyone so youtube makes mass updates available to those who care to hear them :)TPC - Going to give you the remainder of the space to talk about where folks can pick up one of your works of art, and what other cool things we can expect to see from Morgan Pipes in the future.Chris -
Briar Cigars are finally making their way to retailers around the globe. In the U.S., we are working with pipesandcigars.com for my Briar Cigars, my High Grades, and a special project....a Morgan Pipes line of tobacco blends! As of now, we are directing customers to “bug” them for Briar Cigars. We are in the process of working with a few other shops, but we will post new retail locations on the Morgan Pipes website as soon as the plans are concrete. Iwan Ries in Chicago is a proud retailer of the Morgan Pipes high grade line. These are the pipes that I make in my shop. There are usually only 40 per year. They are all what I would consider top grade pipes. If a pipe is not what I consider “ the best I can do” then it doesn't get a Morgan Pipes stamp.
We are working with Tsuge in Japan, Al Pascia in Italy, and also Maska’s in South Korea. These are just a few of our international retailers. One goal of Morgan Pipes is to give the public the highest quality, lowest cost, most innovative products around. I have said this before and I’ll say it again.... “I would be making pipes even if I didn't get paid for it!”. I love what I do, and I'll be around for a very long time doing just that. So if you get a chance, check out our website, drop me a line on Facebook, or subscribe to our youtube channel. I love hearing from everyone.
Thank you all very much for your support and interest in our products.
-Chris MorganWe at TPC wish him all the luck in the future, and it was a pleasure getting to know more about the man Chris Morgan. Sweet Smokes Mr. Morgan,Mike Lancaster Founder/President
Chris Morgan can also be found at the following links.
| YouTube: www.youtube.com/morganpipes
| Email: email@example.com
My friends, It has been awhile, I found myself so busy with the contest that I broke one of my own rules! I did not allow my brain to wander, it was 3 months of hard work that certainly paid off, and I am going to begin the next big adventure when the pipes are shipped, My latest wander of mind is as follows;
I consider TPC as my second family, I truly appreciate each person I have met through this, I have tried my hardest to keep this a small group feel, even though we recently passed 3500 members, the forums are doing great, YouTube channel is flourishing, but I have realized...the bigger something gets the odds slowly drop of making everyone happy, a battle I will never win, a long time struggle for me, I want everyone to be happy, I have been very lucky, very few issues to this day, but early on.... early on I would wonder what I had done if we would lose one like, if I would lose a sub on YouTube, I have come to the realization...had a revelation if you will, that the ones I care about, the true TPC supporters are not going anywhere, and I feel so lucky to have those people, as TPC goes forward I will continue to involve the members, we have some great things happening, I truly appreciate every like...every sub, it still excites me when the numbers go up, It was such a joy to watch the teamwork and even more new friendships form during the contest, as always, my door is open, please contact me anytime, I may not get right back, but I always do, so as I prep my nightly smoke, my mind is at ease, with friends like you all, my smokes will always be sweet...
-Mike Lancaster, Founder/President~ Tobacco Pipe Collectors
Once Upon a Time, behind mountains, forests, and seven valleys, maybe not so long ago and not so far away as it may seem... but..hey..what did i just wanted to write?;]. We're now in such point, when whether trying to write an article, or telling a story to a child, we lose the thread, and do not really know what we've wanted to say. The worst situation is when we had an idea, but somehow it abandons us, or it may no longer seem to be so attractive. I'm in a better position, because I have no idea what could I write to you today and if I really want to do so..
Sometimes I get the strange feeling that even though the clubs name and its intention to gather collectors of pipes for smoking tobacco, there is not enough discussion about collecting pipes itself. Mike shows us many great works of contemporary artists, but where is the discussion on the collection ... important question is: what is a collection? the very dafinition of it? If we define a collection as any set of objects of a similar nature we can assume that each of us has( more or less) rich collection of pipes. However, if we assume that to name accumulation of pipes as a collection, you must have a program, the assumption underlying character set, the matter is more complicated. Perhaps it is worth mentioning, unless known to everyone the Collector pipes, smoking history concerned, Johan Loring, whether or not it gets silly when we compare his achievements with our humble sets, usually arising on impulse and visual experience-just buy what falls in the eye, without thinking about the historical value of the pipe.
After this long and leading nowhere, introduction I'll try to explain why I'm not a collector (but once I thought I was;]).
It started dozen years ago innocently, from finding a pipe in an old closet. I bought some cheap tobacco pipes and so I smoked in these pipes some ugly tobaccos. Then the Enlightenment came . In the first stage, I've tried to bought everything I could get my hands on (everything that seemed to be a good pipe to me). When I found several old tobacco pipes set in excellent condition on a flea market, case took a different turn. The history of this purchase is maybe even cheerful. A beautiful July afternoon, sun, white cumulus clouds, a walk among the tons of old objects. From large furniture to fine jewelry. On a blanket, spotted a box of pipes . I've glanced. Good European brands, I asked about the price ... there began the stairs. Prices were from outer space. I walked away, but not without regret. I made a few circles, and it so happened that when I passed by the salesmen again it began to rain. Not the usual warm summer rain. Heavy rain like from the tropics. In a few seconds the man was wet to the skin. Seeing that the seller rolls up his things hastily to save some worthless paintings, I've offered $ 30 for all pipes ... he agreed. This acquisition outside cheerful anecdote, memory cluttering, have another important advantage. With over a dozen brand-name tobacco pipes, which I knew little else at the time, I could begin to understand the difference between a good and a bad pipe. How differently would taste the same tobacco in different pipes, the pipes, not only in terms of other mechanics, but also of a different grain of briar. From these several smoking pipes, today I have two, with the rest I parted without regret, but then I realized that the pipe is worth to study, learn, choose specimens, in which the probability of good smoking is high. After the initial cataloging purchase, I was able to establish that the pipes come from different decades of the twentieth century. From 50s to 80 s. I learned a lot about the changes then taking place over the years in dealing with the manufacture of pipes of large manufacturers. We found that have happened among the tobacco pipes before, we can observe today in other areas of production. As an example of deterioration of cars, electronics, food, etc. Modern marketing kills traditional industry one after the other branch and gradually it will annihilate all of good practices.
At that time it seemed to me that I'm a collector. I bought some more pipes according to program guidelines. First, I decided not to buy tobacco pipes younger than the ones from 70s Secondly, I was interested in English brands and in Danish to but less, and if they are projects of Ivarsson or Bernadotte.
But one day ... I woke up and came to the conclusion that all this is not worth much. That I'm too lazy for it and I'm not a collector, and I have only set of utility tobacco pipes that meet my requirements taste ...
And so on it ceased to be, and in truth I've never been, a collector of smoking pipes.
But I appreciate the lesson that I received when it seemed to me that I am. I encourage everyone to review their approach to the pipe as a collectible item. Read the history of brands that can be found in your sets, and reflect on if the systematics of your set actually fits the definition of the collection. Well aware of the fact that there is a linguistic and cultural barrier between us, which can cause very different understanding of certain concepts, for this also, treat my words with a wink. ~ Jan JSG
Well, it has been awhile...you know a little more about me after the last post, I am taking my time to burn still, my mind....it still races, faster now than ever, I am able to slow it some as I smoke, but now...now it always keeps running, I prefer my brain not sit idle....My latest wander of mind is as follows......
As I sit, mainly in darkness...me and my pipe, I begin the process I must go through to calm myself from the days activities, day job can have its own weights to bear, I am usually very good at leaving work at the door, so, I go through my ritual, answer messages, return emails, set out my smoke for the night, it used to be that easy.....But now, I realize we have created a living thing...TPC is not just a few pictures on a little Facebook page anymore...it is much more than that, it plays into so many peoples relaxing rituals, maybe a spin through the Facebook posts, maybe check out a few of the Youtube videos, and now, go enjoy good conversation and information on the Forums, TPC has evolved into many peoples lives, I get fantastic comments all the time from folks that love what we are doing...and do not read this as I am complaining at all, I love this community, it truly is a pipe family, I enjoy returning every message I see, comments on Youtube, Twitter,Facebook, Instagram, direct messages from new makers that need some advice, or just shooting the shit with the masters of the trade, fantastic retailer relationships that have evolved into way more than just "business", we do not do "business" we form friendships that will last forever.... honesty, integrity, those are my two faces.... It can be a tough industry, easily maneuvered with those 2 traits, so my mind never fully stills, but as a trade off my heart often fills...I will take that any day, and enjoy my pipe, mainly in darkness, with several thousand of my closest friends, and it is a sweet smoke!
Mike Lancaster ~ Founder/President~ TobaccoPipeCollectors