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Sandblasted pipes

Bruce Weaver, who hails from Brentwood, Tenn., established Bruce A. Weaver Pipes in 2006 and offers handmade custom briarwood tobacco pipes to smokers and collectors alike. He was initially in the business of buying, selling and trading estate pipes for more than 25 years before he decided to open his own shop.

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“I wanted to tap into my creative side. I started making pipes and fell in love with the process and the wood. My pipes are somewhat artistic in interpretation, but it’s all functional art. I follow mostly the classic shapes or the English or Danish interpretations of certain shapes of pipes. Most of my business is all commission. So I’ll receive a call or an e-mail from a pipe smoker, they make suggestions of what they’re looking for and I go from there,” says Weaver.

Weaver is best known for his sandblasting style in which he creates designs by following the growth rings of the briar with which he works. The sandblasting is incorporated into about 80 percent of his items.

Embellishments include elephant ivory, hippo tooth, spalted maple, cocobolo and lots of boxwood. The stems are typically made from ebonite from Germany. The base is briar from Italy, which goes through an extensive curing process before being shipped.

“I buy the briar from a second-generation briar cutter in Italy. He starts by digging burls out of the ground and sitting them in a damp area for a year or greater. Meanwhile, the cutter will cut them into shapes, boil them for several days to remove tannins and dry them for another year or so.”

Clients come from around the world, but about 80 percent are in the U.S. Weaver says he does not have much competition, but he knows there are many others making a nice living on handmade pipes.

“I make good money from it so when I retire from my current job I’ll become a full-time pipe maker. There are many excellent pipe makers. Many call themselves artists. I think I’m more of a craftsman than an artist, but some people think my work is art.”

The pipes sell for $395 to $1,250.

Contact: Bruce A. Weaver, P.O. Box 1081, Brentwood, TN 37024-1081. Tel: 615-831-3155.

This article originally appeared in the February 2012 issue.

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