West Coast Pipe Show Pipe Haul, What I Purchased, All US-made Pipes

West Coast Pipe Show Pipe Haul, What I Purchased, All US-made Pipes

I don’t usually write about the pipes I buy at a show. Today though, I will use it as an excuse to write about some briar

Most of the time I try to only buy high grade pipes. What is the definition of a high grade? I won’t go too deep but essentially it is a pipe made with a level of care & attention to detail that goes above and beyond the average. Where one pipe maker stops and is satisfied with what they have produced, high grade pipe makers keep going. Some element of inner drive & perfectionism pushes them forward and they end up doing more than the average person. Why this additional step occurs is most often associated with time, wisdom & new information/education/new skill. The more a pipe maker learns, the more choices he has to apply to his finished product. The more they learn, the smarter the choices they can make. With information, we choose what to do with it. Take it in or ignore it. A high grade maker chooses to take their pipe knowledge in and give that information an avenue of expression. That is a sufficiently good start to defining what a high grade is.

Pipe # 1 – Steve Liskey

She is a new type of pipe for my collection. I’ve seen, you’ve seen, we’ve all seen the Nautilus shape created a host of times, most famously by Tom Eltang & Bo Nordh. I have always appreciated the fantastic shape from an artistic perspective & its pleasant ability to show off the multitude of grain pattern & expression in the briar. That artistic element is what caused this pipe to first grab my eye.

Steve Liskey, Nautilus

What I really liked about it though is it’s condensed feel. I like how the design has been miniaturized without feeling miniature. It’s a small pipe with a big visual feel. I enjoy such pipes that say a lot but from a point of small stature.

Steve Liskey, Nautilus

Some very nice design work as well. Not easy to have so little briar and make it look so right. The placement of the bowl is interacting pleasantly with the beautiful bend in the pipe. Steve bent her in just the right spot. The right amount of mid-pipe girth was achieved.
A dabble of plateaux at the bowl’s front edge reminds us from what position in the block the pipe came from.

Steve Liskey, Nautilus

The grain and birds-eye on this piece are obviously eye-popping through that vibrant orange like stain.
Small pipe – Cool pipe. A pipe that is highlighting Steve Liskey’s new range & diversity.


Pipe # 2 by Silver Gray


Silver Gray made this exquisite and very well proportioned pipe that is accurately highlighting the proper shape style of a group 2 BullDog.

Silver Gray, BullDog

Who is Silver Gray? She is Brad Pohlmann’s partner. They spend a lot of time together.
We also know that Brad Pohlmann has one of the best examples of blasted or smooth BullDog’s that we have seen in the past 8 years come out of the United States. Brads mastery of the BullDog is just genius. Some of his previous work to easily highlight this point:

Brad Pohlmann, Bent BullDog. Image courtesy of SmokingPipes.com

Brad Pohlmann, Bent BullDog. Image courtesy of SmokingPipes.com

The point is that Silver obviously has full access to a great teacher who loves making that shape. Brad helped in a few small areas but you can still see that the bulk of the pipe was Silver’s and bottom line, a very impressive result.

Silver Gray, BullDog

Why did I buy this pipe, especially since it was made by a brand new pipe maker who is not making high grades yet? First off there is the support element. I like to support new pipe makers. In thinking about that for a moment, most of the guys whom I have supported in the past at this stage, well, most if not all of them are no longer actively making pipes. Odd but so it goes.


Still though, with this example I & we have something else to support. We have a new female pipe maker & anytime I see a woman making pipes I can’t help but enjoy the greater diversity that is coming into the hobby. I have to support that. We do not see nor do we have enough women pipe makers and I find it very annoying. I hope that Silver continues in her pipe making full throttle.


This pipe, like Steve Liskeys also has a small & compact design. Sandblasted of course which I always adore. It looks complete & feels the same. From A to Z a wonderful first attempt and a great looker.


Look for more of her other work which will be in the show report shortly.


Pipe # 3 – Nathan Armentrout of Armentrout Pipes.


I mentioned earlier the elements that I consider to be associated with a high grade pipe. A real high grade pipe maker will simply have more to give to a pipe.


I have been following Nate’s work since he started. Met him at the 1st West Coast Pipe Show 6 or 7 years ago & was impressed back then with his first batch of briar.


Today, this Nathan Armentrout pipe, along with the other pipes on his table at the show all have those ‘high grade’ elements being discussed.


Nathan has a wide range of shape styles and sufficient amount of experimentation behind him now to produce a pipe that looks like this.
From end to end, you visually walk along this pipe and enjoy everything you come across.

Nathan Armentrout, Armentrout Pipes, Dublin/Pickaxe.

The rim plateaux is gorgeous and always a difficult element to place correctly. Nathan extended that plateaux line out to the top of the shank.


The stem itself is fantastic. It’s shape provides a smart transition from all that rough surface to a nice cumberland stem.

Nathan Armentrout, Armentrout Pipes, Dublin/Pickaxe.

What a beautiful dark red contrast stain he made. That stain is highlighting the blast beautifully.


More important, the bottom tip of the pipe is perfectly placed, guiding all those blast rings out in a very planned and burst-like strategic fashion. The result is gorgeous.

Nathan Armentrout, Armentrout Pipes, Dublin/Pickaxe.

Nathan, your making beautiful pipes & I am glad to finally have one in my collection. The fact that it was only $320 was an extra big plus.


Big thanks to Mr. Justin Duval who allowed me to buy this pipe off of him. My camera battery went dead as I was deciding to buy Nate’s pipe. I had to jump up to the hotel room for 20 minutes, came back and saw the ‘Sold’ sign on it. Thank you to Justin for agreeing to pass her over to me.


Pipe # 4 –  Brad Pohlmann Straight Grain Bull Dog


Brad is the most under-rated Master of all the US Master Pipe Makers. Brad makes exquisite pipes that are spot on, following their stated design principles to a ‘t’! He has so much of the basic information about shape proportion & design that he has a very high level of control in how he chooses to express it. He can apply ever so slight & minor adjustments to the exterior lines, actual mm’s of changes & the results allow the shape to be highlighted in just that little but more of a slightly more pleasant way. That is one of Brad’s additional skill sets. Taking traditional shapes to an elevated place.


I personally see it in all his work. The little bit of extra movement that he adds to his pieces. I see this is the several shapes that he works on very often. The new version of his dublin (which you will see in the show report) is thinner, more lithe and has a more pliable tendency to it. Last year this pipe was less ‘loose’.


Moving forward I think it is about time that my collection will only contain pipes that are sized right for me. All these pipes will most often be Group 3 and under 14cm or around 5 inches. Smaller pipes.
These pipes fit me better and I am tired of buying larger pipes that I love in their overall general look however they are not sized properly enough for me. Why do I mention this?


This exquisite BullDog, perfect in every way is only 12cm 4.7″ long. Not sure what else to say about this pipe except look at the pictures. She is gorgeous and Brad did the absolute best with this block.

Brad Pohlmann, BullDog

Brad Pohlmann, BullDog

Brad Pohlmann, BullDog


Pipe # 5 – J&J Pipes Bent Blasted Cobra Bamboo


Another pipe that I was not expecting to buy. Hey though, when a pipe is doing everything right, how can you look away?


First off, she is a full bent.
Nice shaping. Check out the underside lines and how they are properly extending the bottom of the bowl line with the bamboo & the shank.


It has a unique bowl shape which J&J call a ‘Cobra’. It’s design incorporates a general style I enjoy. Subtle facets. Strong lines but placed gently. Reminds me of Rainer Barbi.

J&J Pipes, Blasted Cobra

Nice sheen in the bowl’s rim. The normally yellow’ish epoxy used to plug the bamboo holes was mixed with some black dye which produced a pleasant visual effect. You don’t usually see black on bamboo. The entire pipe works. I love the size of this piece as well.

J&J Pipes, Blasted Cobra

Solid piece that screams precision.

J&J Pipes, Blasted Cobra


My very first J&J pipe.
Can’t wait to smoke her.


Pipe # 6 – An Adam Davidson Fig Variation


Adam knows the bowl shape of Figs, Acorns and Almonds extremely well. He can do them blind-folded.


This pipe, which I would like to call a Unique Fig, has a contrast stain that is out of this world. The stain gives the pipe a personality element that is a little frazzled, a little crazy, a tad off kilter. Couple that with the wobbling bowl & this pipe is having a lot of rebellious fun.

Adam Davidson, Unique Fig

Another Adam Davidson masterpiece that walks away from the norm just ever so slightly.
I love how the grain spreads out in epi center like fashion from the well-placed heel.

Adam Davidson, Unique Fig

Adam Davidson, Unique Fig

I have already enjoyed smoking her.

I tend to smoke Adam pipes quite a bit to be honest. Both Adam Davidson and Brad Pohlmann are some of my main go-to guys when smoking.


That is what I bought.

All US-Made pipes and a great show by the US artisans in our community.


Looking forward to sharing the show report. I really, really enjoyed seeing so many people.




David M.

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  1. Dan Coomer - November 14, 2014

    I totally agree with you about Brad Pohlmann. He is simply one of the best carvers around. I’d love to own one of his bulldogs but they are way out of my price range. One of his Bulldogs was a winner in the 2012 KC Pipe Carving Contest.

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