following words are those of a pipe maker of course, but in essence they are those
of an artist - myself. I think most pipe makers view themselves as artists akin
to those who sculpt in stone or wood, but confining their work to a single subject:
For myself, what I'm interested in, and what I think
other skilled pipe maker are interested in, is quality wood. The reason is quite
simple - I am searching for the two primary qualities in a pipe: beauty and smokability.
My primary source for Briar at the present time is Italy, and I am very pleased
with its esthetic value and smoking qualities. Of course different wood from
different growing areas appear different insomuch as grain is concerned. Regardless
of the source, when briar is aged and air cured properly the smoking qualities will
be the same.
Every pipe maker sets his own standards and I have
to look at the piece of briar to determine whether it will be a smooth pipe or not.
Just because it is clean (without pits) doesn't mean it will become a smooth ROUSH.
For a carved pipe, I select a block that will support the size pipe I want to make,
position the template and draw the outline. In contrast, the crafting of a smooth
pipe is unique in character and requires a substantial amount of time. Grain is
a primary consideration, and the point beyond shape is where the eye of the artist
is critical. I don't tell the briar block what I want, the block tells me. It's
the grain that determines the shape not the template. I have always done all my
own Gold and Silver work and use only solid Silver and 14k Gold. I really like the
Combination of wood with silver and gold. I think it gives a very unique touch.
Sometimes I use fossilized Walrus tusk or Mammoth tusk for inlays. This comes predominantly
from Alaska and is found as a by-product of mining operations there.
I have always been demanding when it came to the pipes
I smoked personally. As a result it took many years to perfect my finishing, curing,
and carving techniques. I keep that in mind when I make a piece. If the finished
pipe is not one I would keep for myself then it is just not good enough for sale.
Being my own worst critic, not wanting to settle for less, has always been the most
difficult part of pipe making.
As a pipe maker I make every effort to turn out a quality
pipe, regardless of shape or finish. This often involves painstaking and meticulous
work, unknown to the buyer, but incorporates features (see link below on expections
from a Roush pipe) that make the ROUSH pipes what they are today. Mike Butera and
I once had a discussion on this very topic and determined that these many things
we do relating to fit and finish, and attention to detail are simply the standards
we set to make quality pipes. To short cut or deviate from these standard would
not only be cheating the smoker and collector, but cheating ourselves. On a personal
note, I feel fortunate to have this gift, this ability to see deeper than the surface
of a fine piece of briar and respond by creating pipes that are shared and appreciated
by others. I'm eternally grateful for three things: the insight to recognize in
myself a talent and the courage to develop it; secondly, for the assistance and
direction of Mike Butera, and third for the opportunity to take an idea, a simple
thought, and turn it into something beautiful and useful. It is my hope and wish
that you enjoy smoking and owning my pipes every bit as much as I enjoy making them.
to Expect from a Roush Pipe