Kansas City contest : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

Kansas City contest

The 2014 North American Pipe Carving Contest, hosted as in previous years by the Greater Kansas City Pipe Club at its yearly pipe show in June, was the fifth annual such event, with the greatest participation ever—57 entrants, a new record. This year saw two repeat winners: Rad Davis, who previously won in 2011 and 2012, and Premal Chheda, who previously took one of the top spots in 2013. Rounding out the winner’s circle for 2014 were Tyler Beard, Colin Rigsby, Ryan Alden, Nate King and Jesse Jones.

This year’s contest theme was billiards, and the seven winning entries constituted a gorgeous set representing that classic form, with winning pipes united (as in past years) in a fine display case built by Anthony Harris of Acme Woodturning. The set was raffled at the pipe show, with proceeds distributed among the seven winning carvers. The panel of three judges saw return engagements by renowned tobacco blender Gregory Pease, whose G.L. Pease Ltd. recipes are famous among pipe connoisseurs everywhere, and by pipe-repair guru George Dibos, whose encyclopedic knowledge of pipe mechanics makes his Kansas City, Mo., shop, Precision Smoking Pipe Rejuvenation & Repair, widely depended upon in the pipe-smoking world. They were joined by pipemaker Adam Davidson of SmokingPipes.com, whose expertise in what makes a great pipe knows no bounds. Some comments from the judges follow.

Adam Davidson: Carvers, hobby and professional alike, have come to see this contest as a place to get noticed and to test their abilities against their peers and themselves. To my surprise, there was a significant spread of pipes this year. The pipes were chosen based on shape at a glance, or held up to see the silhouette for bumps and lumps. None of us knew who made which pipe until the seven were decided. I believe the contest proved a lot of things. First, making a billiard is not easy. Second, subtle details make all of the difference. Third, no one will ever be 100 percent happy with the final choices. But carvers who asked questions after the contest learned, and each of the judges learned a lot as well.

George Dibos: The first thing that comes to my mind about the contest is how well conceived it is, challenging North American carvers to do their best with the world watching. Every year has seen an increase in the number of entries from the previous year. Quinton Wells’ vision in founding the competition was extraordinary, and his energy and commitment are remarkable in making each year better than the last.

Gregory Pease: This year’s contest brought some remarkable new talent, in addition to some event veterans. The idea was simple enough: make a billiard, a shape of fairly well-defined proportions. The bowl had to fit within the definition, but room was allowed for creative play in shank and stem. So a few pots, almost-apples and near-Dublins were put aside. That selection process turned out to be a considerable challenge because some really beautiful pipes were eliminated only because they didn’t meet the billiard criteria. The harder part was evaluating the pipes that remained, which often came down to minute details. The whole process took a couple of intensely focused hours, and as much fun as it always is, it’s also surprisingly exhausting, leaving us looking forward to retiring to the smoking tent for a relaxing bowl. A few carvers might have been well-served by doing a little more research into what constitutes a classic billiard. That aside, my hat is off to this group of talented individuals for stepping up and delivering their best. P&T

(Below are images of the display, made by Anthony Harris, and photos of all seven winning pipes)

180_WinnersOpenDisplay 098_P33_Alden013_P5_Beard104_P38_Chheda031_P11_Davis170_P65_Jones123_P47_King063_P21_Rigsby

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Category: Fall 2014, Feature Article, Uncategorized

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