What friendship has wrought : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

What friendship has wrought

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Pipemaker Tim Hynick is a study in collaborative learning

by William C. Nelson

It needs to be said from the start that Tim Hynick is humble, polite, low-key, self- effacing and a bit startled that people might want to read about him. But that’s part of what makes Hynick’s story so first-rate.

For almost a dozen years, Hynick’s pipemaking has been winning him friends, followers and collectors in a quiet and dignified way. Primarily a New England fixture, Hynick cultivates his closest relationships in the pipe world at his home pipe club, the Boston-area Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club. Members there are really the people who have most closely watched Hynick’s evolution as a pipe artisan, and helped to nurture it—they and the regulars who attend the New York Pipe Show and the annual New York-area Kaywoodie event (a party and smoking contest attended by pipemakers and enthusiasts at the Kaywoodie factory around Christmastime).

hynick2That summarizes Hynick’s pipemaking support network, though there have been helpful influences farther afield. Hynick is not one to avoid learning from any who can teach him. Although professional obligations have kept him close to home and largely absent from pipe shows nationwide, it isn’t that his name never gets mentioned in the wider pipe-smokers’ world. You’ll find Hynick spoken of approvingly in online forums, especially by people who have just bought a Hynick pipe and profess to being greatly impressed about the quality they find. Still, the man has never built a website nor any Facebook page. Even to acquire his email address took an inquiry with the secretary of the Sherlock Holmes club.

Hynick, a 56-year-old practicing psychologist ensconced in a comfortable Haverhill, Massachusetts, home with his wife Celeste (an architect), came to pipemaking as something of a “blank slate,” to have him tell it. “I realize a lot of pipemakers had woodworking skills before they started making pipes,” Hynick says. “But I had no woodworking experience or even experience with tools. So I kind of had to learn everything from other pipemakers.” That, in a nutshell, is the central lesson of Hynick’s story: The many collaborations to which he has been a party, and the support network he cultivated as he sought to improve his craft, make him very much a community craftsman. One could say Hynick is the opposite of a lone striver. He wouldn’t have it any other way; Hynick is proud of his friendships in the pipe-smoking world, and of the influences each has infused into his creative life. He was lucky, or wise, to find a support network both rich and generous with its knowledge. He has come far, and is now touching the heights of premier pipemaking achievement, with a little help from his friends at every step. Of course, Hynick sees things in rather less dramatic terms. “Pipes are really just a very enjoyable hobby,” he says, “lots of fun and lots of pleasure.”

Hynick first started smoking a pipe at age 14, when furtively he would meet teenage hynick3friends, Yello-Bole in hand, in the alley behind the house where he grew up on James Street in Hazleton, Pennsylvania. Hynick started smoking a bit more out in the open during high school—“not too much then,” he says— and by his third year in college he was regularly indulging a weakness for Sir Walter Raleigh smoked in basket pipes. He’s been what he considers a “steady smoker” ever since. Hynick earned a bachelor’s degree in psychology at Penn State University in 1981, stayed to earn a master’s in rehabilitation counseling and then moved on to Antioch University New England for his 1997 doctorate in psychology, a degree that would open doors to his professional life. “I see adults, but I work with a lot of kids with disabilities, with anxiety disorders and depression. That makes it a very fulfilling, very rewarding occupation, knowing that I can have an impact on children’s lives.”

All along, his seriousness about pipe smoking grew and his quest for more knowledge about the hobby kept sprouting branches. “Having retailers like L.J. Peretti, Gold Leaf Tobacconist and some other very fine retailers here in the area helped me learn a lot about pipe smoking,” Hynick says. “But it was really when I hooked up with the Sher- lock Holmes Pipe Club 12 years ago that pipes took off for me as a hobby.”

Tim Hynick (left) with friends from the Sherlock Holmes pipe club

Tim Hynick (left) with friends from the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club

Attending those club meetings gave Hynick a raft of new friends who carried lifetimes of pipe-smoking wisdom and knowledge they were eager to share— knowledge about the ways of collecting pipes, and about the many mysteries of pipe tobaccos. Nelson Pidgeon, club secretary, attests to Hynick’s commitment as a club member: “Tim loves the Sherlock Holmes Pipe Club, and he makes it a priority to attend every month despite a two-hour commute. He is always very disappointed if other obligations keep him from meeting with us.” Pidgeon adds by way of illustration, “For the past several years Tim has taken on the responsibility of working with other pipemakers to create our yearly Club Pipe—not the easiest task, especially when you are working with people overseas. Tim also carved our Club Pipe for 2006.”

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Category: Feature Article, Pipe Articles, Summer 2015

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