1. Where are you from? I’m from a small town North of Austin, called Taylor, Texas
2. What brought you to Nashville? I came to Nashville in 1993 to go to College.
3. When did you start making guitars? Do you play? I started playing guitars at the age of 13. A couple of years later, we were required to build a project in “shop” class at school. I made an electric guitar. That was my first.
4. Your a very serious cigar smoker, what’s your favorite right now? Well, this changes often, but I’d have to say that my favorite Cuban, at the moment, is the Vegas Robaina. Favorite non-Cubans, currently, are the UF-13 by Drew Estate and the Daruma by Room 101.
5. When did you first become aware of pipes? Well, it’s honestly hard to say. I remember, as a youngster, seeing several family friends with pipes but I didn’t really engage with them until College. I began collecting as many as I could. They were almost exclusively, hideous, cheap estates, but once in a while I would end up with something nice. I only have a few left from those first days of collecting. One is a Barling Meerschaum nosewarmer that I love.
6. When you left Batson guitars were you already committed to making pipes? It wasn’t even on my radar. Although, you (Keith) had been telling me for years that I would be a good pipe maker, it really was never an idea that I allowed to stick. So, I left the guitar biz with no idea as to what I would do next. In months previous to my leaving the guitars, Todd Johnson had found me and commissioned me to build a pipe case for a 7-day set he was working on. In the unfolding months Todd would convince me to give pipe making a shot.
7. Who has the first pipe you made? If he still has it, a doctor in Houston named Spencer.
The first pipe I made.
8. Who is your inspiration as a pipe maker? Oh my. This may sound contrived. Only on rare occasion do I look around at other makers’ work. In my mind, a pipe is a series of connected holes that allow the functional passage of nicotine-rich smoke into the pie-hole. What one surrounds that system of holes with, in my humble opinion, is called art. I’m probably no different than most pipe makers. I endeavor, with each pipe, to create something that is unique, attractive and comfortable, but also “makes sense to my eyes”. (With that in mind, I also truly believe the veracity of the words of King Solomon, “There is nothing new under the sun.”) I’ve been told my shanks are too fat. I’ve heard that I use too much wood embellishment. My buttons are this, I leave too much plateau, etc, etc. I really try to make stuff I’m happy with. I’m pretty hard to please. Just ask my wife. I figure, by the time I’m done with the pipe, if I’m happy with it, there might be, at least, one other dude on earth who will be. This is not the basis for my pricing structure, but on occasion, my prices might reflect just how happy or unhappy I am with a pipe. If you ever see a pipe that you think is “cheaper” than you would expect, there’s a 95% chance that I just wasn’t happy with it for some reason.
While I don’t look around often, I truly find inspiration in almost everyone’s work. From Balkovec’s tough, rugged, manly pipes to the whacky, artful originality of Shekita (Revyagin, Yashtylov, Negoita … heck name a Russian and I’m probably inspired by his work). I love Tokutomi, Teddy and all the Danes. Probably, the two guys that currently inspire me the most are Peter Heding and Konstantin Shekita. I admire their style and originality, but also I guess I identify with bits of their stories.
9. Where do you get your briar? Mimmo, of course.
10. What are you working on right now? Right now, I’m gearing up for Chicago, working on a stand for a set and making a box for a collaborated set of Gracik/Manz, which Jeff Gracik hired me to do.
These three pipes listed below are for sale! Contact me at email@example.com for more information. Peace!
The Tormented Blow FIsh—$750.00
Lays perfectly in the hand. Incredibly light.
The Regal Egg–$825.00
Beautiful Birdseye. The weight and balance in the hand is remarkable.
The Smoking Duck–$875.00
Unique design by Grant Batson