Exploring Pipe Display Evolution – Neal Yarm’s Pipe Stands take a New Direction

Exploring Pipe Display Evolution – Neal Yarm’s Pipe Stands take a New Direction

I had been planning for a new pipe stand or display for the majority of 2013. For various reasons I did not get around to it. I then began to see the work of talented artisan Neal Yarm. By seeing Neal’s unique approach to crafting pipe display stands, I instantly saw not only an artist that I would want to work with but also someone whom I knew could be challenged to give me something with that little bit of ‘different’ inside it that I always crave so much. I wanted to take the pipe display to a whole new level and Neal Yarm’s talents not only brought me there but in fact exceeded expectations.

An exceptional example of a magnificent pipe stand created by Neal Yarm

Looking at this example of Neal’s work allows one to instantly see the depth of artistic perspective & thoughtful review that Neal brings to his art. I was virtually sold on Neal’s talents the moment I laid my eyes on his work, such as this.

My personal request to Neal was simple. I wanted the Sole & Individual Artistic Beauty in my unique & special pipes to be highlighted. I wanted to find a way to un-cluster multiple pipes sitting in a row. That normal effect of a pipe stand to ‘group’ the pipes is a sensible one. For this specific project however I wanted the opposite. I was searching for a way to isolate the individual pipes, so that each pipe could stand on it’s own. To catch your eye on it’s own and allow you to focus in on that specific pipe’s individual beauty. To look at & appreciate One, rather than Many. The last request was my desire to have the piece go vertical, rather than horizontal.

My first sketch to Neill highlights that general thought.

We both agreed that this was a little too chaotic & too time consuming to accomplish. The general seed of the overall concept though was planted.

Neal and I were instantly engaged in each other and we were both feeding off of our ideas.

The evolution of the stand from concept to final execution took some unique twist’s and turns but we ended up in a place where we were both exceedingly happy. Here I will show you some of the inter-play that happened between Neal and I from the start to the conclusion of the project. You will see the concept evolve very quickly.

Evaluating different ideas that explore the separation of the pipes and the artistic elements in the actual display.

One of the initial concepts showing a place-holder for one pipe.

The same concept as above, taking on the vertical feel of hanging from a wall.

Neal’s sketch on the above design concept showing the individual pieces & how they would connect.

Communication was essential in this process. One has to be on the same page as the artisan or else you are both talking a different language and this can lead to mis-aligned expectations. Here I am confirming several concepts.

The final expression of the ‘grass flowing behind the pipes’ idea. We did not produce this piece but it was this sketch that laid the foundation for the remaining evolution on this piece & it’s eventual final form.

Both Neal and I felt that the previous ideas were too busy. There was too much distraction that was taking too much attention away from the future pipes. We knew we were creating a piece of magnificent art with the display itself. Yet we had to find a balance between the artistic presentation of the pipe display & the eventual artistic pipes that would be exhibited on it.

This was the sketch that gave Neal and I the eureka moment we had been working on & waiting for. The second that Neal sent this to me, I knew we found our foundation.

Up until this point, you have to imagine that our interaction with one another was similar to that of happy children in a playground. Exploring, digging around, looking under rocks previously un-lifted & just a general sense of fun analysis & inspection of ideas. We were roaming free and enjoying it.

Once the above sketch came in though, our excitement level reached an even higher peak as we both knew that we finally found what we were looking for. The art in the display was found. Flowing. Breezy. Gentle. Light-weight. Dynamic yet unpretentious interaction between the sections. All of those types of words began flowing through our heads.

The inter-play between the sections was very light & airy. By eliminating the ‘flowing grass’ idea, we lightened the visual load of the display to the point of it now feeling weight-less.

That was the turning point. All of the above was technically the hardest part. For me at least. Neal definitely had a lot of work to do but the conceptual phase and the multiple layers of evolution it encountered produced a fantastic design idea. Now Neal had to start sweating and going to work in the shop.

Neal selected the woods to use and the type of trim to apply. He defined the general ‘pieces’ within the display that he would begin working on.

The wood was selected. The new area of ‘color interaction’ was being evaluated.

Each new step obviously brings new challenges with it however Neal’s high level of artistic sensibility within his craft easily led us along the way. The various panels we were using had to be color-coded so to speak and we had to ensure that any interaction we were creating was not in conflict with one another.

Several different wood & trim types were evaluated.

A slightly deeper look into one of the many steps that a Neal Yarm pipe stand must undergo. The clamping process can look as interesting & dynamic as this.

The end-result was nothing short of breathtaking.

When I look at this piece right now and ask myself if we achieved our goal, I cannot help but think how far we exceeded it. The pleasure I receive from being able to look at my pipes this way is almost indescribable. Just imagine your favorite pipes, finally being showcased in a manner that is equal to your love of the individual pipes & you then have an inkling of the experience.

The final piece hanging on my wall. Art on top of art. Interacting so beautifully with one another.

Additional views.


Additional views.

Additional views.

Additional views.


Additional views.

Additional views.

Now that you’ve read my experience it’s time to hear the artist’s point of view. Neal Yarm discusses the project in his own words.

Artisan, Neal Yarm

Neal Yarm: “As an artist that is designing and manufacturing pieces for a very specific functional purpose, I am constantly confronted with the constraints of that purpose. Unlike approaching a piece that you create for solely artistic value I have a checklist to cover so that my pieces comport with those functional requirements. So when I am requested to do a piece that is primarily art in inception and  that secondarily provides function I really get to spread my wings. Simply put, you design a piece of sculpture and then figure out how to get the pipes on it without compromising the aesthetic value of the piece.”

Neal Yarm: “Now couple that directive with a client that can articulate his vision and enthusiastically shares in the creative process and you have at the very least the formula to do some exceptional work. For me as an artist, this was the kind of opportunity that gave me an outlet to engage with my work at a more intimate level. You still have some constraints such as price, time, a secure platform and number of pipes, however there was enough flexibility that in the end, none of those compromised the work.”

The display without pipes. Highlighting the functional portion of the work that Neal is discussing.

Neal Yarm: “One of the ancillary benefits to doing this project is that you are rewarded with new ideas you can adapt to future pieces. Ironically as a sculptor, wall pieces were a mainstay of my work but, had yet to find their way into my designs until I began this piece. As most artists I am always looking to do something new and unique but regrettably not every piece I finish will allow me to make that claim. That’s why this commission was as valuable for me as an artist as it was important for the client to receive something really special. I used this project to try something I have not done before in this application and upon completion can now add this concept to my repertoire.”

And again. View from below to highlight the merging of function & art.

Neal Yarm: “I also gained a new friend in the process and enjoyed the interaction we had as the piece came together. I know that challenges like this project are the exception but when you receive one it can really recharge your batteries. And off course it inspires new clients to try something new and outside their comfort zone.”

This truly was a special project requiring several key ingredients to be a part of the mix. Thankfully we had the right ingredients to work with on this project to produce such an amazing final result.

Our project completed just a few short weeks ago & already Neal has completed a new commission for a pipe display following some of the general ideas that we laid the ground work for.

Another pipe display stand completed by Neal for pipe collector Ethan Brandt that explores many of these new elements.

The sky is the limit on what you can do with any new project and Neal & I definitely touched some new parts of the pipe display sky with this one. Neal is a fantastic artisan to work with and I highly recommend his work to pipe-collectors and pipe artisan’s alike.

Today, I can’t even count the number of pipe maker artisan’s who have contacted Neal to make them a pipe stand. There are so many pipe-makers who demand their work be displayed on a Yarm pipe stand. Why? There is a strong connection between pipe artisan’s and Neal’s pipe stands. The art within Neal’s work speaks to those who appreciate and love pipes for their art & what it represents. Neal’s pipe stands and displays change the language when pipes and the stands are brought together. It changes the way we see our pipes and changes it for the better.


Neal Yarm Pipe Stands Are Available at:

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