KC contest : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

KC contest

The Greater Kansas City carving contest once again attracts phenomenal designs


The annual North American Pipe-carving Contest, held at the Kansas City pipe show each year, has proven to be popular and groundbreaking. Dozens of carvers enter every year and seven pipes are chosen for the final winning set, which is always beautifully presented in its own special display case designed by Anthony Harris. The set is raffled and the proceeds go to the carvers.

What everyone looks forward to is the variety of design. A basic shape is chosen each year, and pipemakers showcase their interpretive and technical creativity to produce stunning pipes within the basic shape requirements. As you can see from the photos of all the entries, North American pipemakers are pushing the boundaries of creative interpretation to produce some of the most beautiful pipes anywhere.

This year’s winning carvers were Matt Brannon, Premal Chheda, Jerry Crawford, Micah Cryder, Adam Davidson, David Huber and Maigurs Knets, with honorable mentions going to Wayne Teipen and Thomas Richards.


(Left to Right): George Dibos, Gregory Pease and Tad Gage discuss the entries.

The judges were again this year Gregory Pease, a collector of pipes for many years and the man behind the famously popular G.L. Pease Ltd. pipe tobacco blends; Tad Gage, known to P&T readers as an insightful reviewer of tobaccos but also well-known for decades in the hobby as a premier collector of Barling pipes, among others; and George Dibos, legendary in his knowledge of pipes and a pipe repairer of extraordinary skill, seeing what goes wrong with thousands of pipes through his business, Precision Smoking Pipe Rejuvenation & Repair in Kansas City.

As always, the judges spent hours discussing the pipes, examining the nuances of design and the technical acumen with which they were constructed. It’s a painstaking and detail-oriented process. The judges have kindly submitted their own comments regarding this year’s pipes:

Gregory Pease: Once again, it was an honor and a privilege to join with George and Tad in judging the fourth-annual contest. The theme, the Dublin family, opened the door for creative interpretation and improvisation on a traditional shape class, and there were certainly some very creative variants presented. Overall, the quality of the pipes was quite high, and for the most part, they exhibited adherence to the theme, which provided a big sandbox for playful exploration.

I was a bit surprised by how few expressed the definitive “catalog” Dublin, one of the oldest shapes in the history of the briar, but equally delighted by the creativity brought to bear in riffing on the basic form, the variations often being more fascinating than the theme itself. Some of the makers showed great kc4fluidity in their thinking about the abstraction of “Dublin” as a shape concept, rather than as a concrete, formal definition, and, especially to the winners, I say, “Well done!”

Had there been more classic examples, the judging would have been a much different and probably more difficult task. Presented with a dozen excellent examples of a traditional shape, how do you judge the best ones, other than by evaluating the care and creativity exhibited in their execution? One thing these contests have exhibited is just how much skill and creativity there is amongst the new generation of pipemakers.The open forum of the Internet has provided a convenient channel for discussion of tools and techniques, of aesthetics and mechanics, of what makes a superior pipe, and a lot of new makers are clearly paying attention, fast-tracking a journey that, without this medium of wide-reaching and instant visual and verbal exchange, once took many more years. Some of these new makers are challenging the veterans head-on, raising the standards by which quality is judged. That, ultimately, is good for the entire hobby.

Read the rest of the story by subscribing to Pipes and tobaccos magazine or the online digital edition.


Tags: , , , ,

Category: Fall 2013, Feature Article

About cstanion: View author profile.

Comments are closed.