COLIN RIGSBY & SHUREWOOD PIPES
COLIN RIGSBY | PIPE MAKER
My story begins in the summer of 1971. I was born into a family of craftsmen; my grandfather a builder, cultivator, realtor, tax preparer, motel owner and overall entrepreneur. My father was a bit more focused because he started in advertising and still is in that business now many years later as an award-winning creator of campaigns and logos.
I must have gotten the skipped gene. While in college I followed my already established music path into bands; as a bassist, songwriter, keyboard dabbler and all around glutton for punishment. I say that because other musicians know what I am talking about. At age 30, I stepped away from that, a bit bruised and tired, looking for a change. A creative outlet that would allow me to express the creative side while creating something people can use. I really appreciate utilitarian items made with care and a careful eye. I studied and dabbled in cooking, painting/model making and a couple of other things until one day in 2005 I looked at the pipe I was smoking and decided I could make one and probably enjoy it.
Since then I have striven to be the best pipe maker possible. I completely threw myself into it, studying the history of pipe making and the business itself. Entirely self-taught, but with advice from some of the best, I have continued to do pursue that goal. I have learned over the years that this business is just like the music business, but different. No, not everyone is helpful or friendly, but I have found some of the most interesting people I have ever known and created what will prove to be some lifelong friendships through this vehicle of the pipe. The great craftsmanship and tobaccos are just icing on the cake. And like any good musician or pipe maker, I look at what’s going on around me. I enjoy collecting pipes from all over, especially the pieces made by master long gone.
Unlike my music, which was progressive rock/metal and jazz influenced, my pipe making is more classic. In music, I found that more is more and a lot of fun to play and create. In pipes, I have learned through trial and error that the classics are classic for a reason. I love these shapes and I find them to be most of my influence. The Italians with their takes on the classics and the Danes with their flair for the artistic are there too. It’s a wonderful world and after 10+ years of doing shows and selling pipes, I have a lot to learn. I have a lot to learn because I am not happy with just doing the same thing over and over. I want to expand my knowledge and my craft, so I will never be finished exploring and learning.
Thanks for taking the time to explore my site. I am a part time pipe maker; I have a young family and career outside of this wonderful world of pipes, so my yearly production is limited. I don’t take many commissions anymore, but am willing to entertain your ideas and maybe we can come up with something that fits the bill.
Engineering is paramount. I like old things and I like old words. We don’t think of the word “paramount” anymore as meaning “of top importance,” but that’s exactly what I mean when I use it. Sacrificing function for form is not in my toolbox. I choose my designs and shapes to function to peak performance, so there are just some things that aren’t done just for looks. There are a lot of pretty things out there, but the bottom line is performance. Finding that happy medium is always the goal, or it doesn’t leave the shop.
Did I mention I like old things? Well, I like old tried and true materials too. Well aged briar is essential to crafting a fine pipe, period. No concoction of curing or coating will take the place of a good piece of briar that is ready to be used through time. Along with aged, italian briar, I used German ebonite and brindle/Cumberland for the mouthpieces almost exclusively. This material is soft on the teeth and will not discolor as quickly as other rubber materials. As for adornments such as inset rings, mounts, etc. only quality materials such as sterling silver, vintage ebonite, and acrylic are used.
I love the classics. The billiard is arguably the ultimate smoking machine and I was honored for mine to be chosen for the 7 Day Set Contests conducted by the Greater Kansas City Pipe Club and Show in 2014. Straight or bent, long or short, you will probably find apples, billiards, dublins, princes, and the like on these pages. But my inspirations also draw heavily from the italian schools of pipe making, with their unique flair in making the classics just a bit more modern. And did I mention freehands? Freeform shapes drawing from nature, architecture, and other schools of art. On occasion, I take some liberties and go out of my way to create shapes that speak to the inner self; no cookie cutting or copying here.