Not far from the Southern California ocean, I sit in my pipe workshop wondering how to communicate to pipe people how I discovered this strange and wonderful world—this tiny corner of a niche. I can be assured that my job is somewhat easier as the assumption can be made that if you are reading this, you may already know something about high-grade pipes.
Typically I find myself scrambling for a brief but informative explanation to the uninitiated in a grocery store parking lot or an airplane.
“Interesting. But, you don’t smoke, do you?” they ask.
“Oh. So, what do you smoke in them?” they ask, accompanied alternately by winks from young adults and concerned eyebrows by those in my parents’ generation.
Thankfully this isn’t—or shouldn’t be—my audience in this venue.
Art has always been part of my life. Drawing with first crayon and paper as a toddler, pencil and paper as a child, and later with paint and canvas as a young adult I was regaled with stories of my grandmother and grandfather, both amateur and passionate artists, and my famous cousin, Andy Warhol.
Perhaps it was blood, but I am convinced it was simply a passion for the creation things—new things, strange things, beautiful things—that ultimately led me to buy two blocks of briar and pre-formed stems during my first year of graduate work in the field of theology. Guided by what little snippets of information that could be gleaned from books and the internet I completed my first pair of pipes with borrowed tools on the wooden floor of my in-laws’ home over Christmas break. They were not very good, but I was falling in love.
As with any person working in the arts, I am influenced by the world surrounding me. At the beginning designs were inherently mimetic as I explored my medium and designs to which I had been exposed. I am grateful to those whose work has been so influential to the development of my style. I remain an avid student of pipe shapes, consciously studying and being inspired by the work of others. Nevertheless, my work remains my own.
Pipe design is a careful calculus of influence and originality within a fairly restricting medium. It is my desire to continue exploring new territory, simultaneously paying homage to the great artisans of the past and present. As collectors and enthusiasts, you are part of the story as you enjoy, encourage, and collect my work.
About J. Alan Pipes
Each J. Alan Pipe is handmade using the finest materials. They are truly international in origin as shipments arrive from all around the globe supplying my shop with the raw material for my work.
The briar is of Algerian or Italian origin and is cut, cured, and shipped to me for additional curing. Stems are hand cut from solid German ebonite and brindle and occasionally from vintage yellow Bakelite.
Each J. Alan Pipe is a unique composition. Embellishment materials include bamboo, pre-ban ivory, mammoth tusk, boxwood, and masur birch. Additionally two signature exotic woods are available: two-toned Amboyna burl, and two-toned Australian Brown Mallee.
Each J. Alan Pipe is stamped with my logo stamp, a two-digit year stamp, and a serial number counting back to the first pipe I made. Hence, 300-09 would be the 300th J. Alan Pipe in existence and it was made in 2009.
Prices are broad in range. High grade pipes require a great deal of knowledge, tooling, and experience to construct. A simple elegant black sandblasted pipe generally starts at $700. Smooth pipes are priced from $1200 and may be priced $2500 and up for the finest and rarest examples of my work.
I welcome the opportunity to create a pipe to fit into a specific collection. Please contact me to discuss what pipe I can make for you.