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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 6:15 pm 
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All of them. Then there's Downie, me, and Parks holding fort up here. We're the advanced Northern Pipe Maker's Guard, spread all across the Great White North and protecting you guys from the Russians.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 7:35 pm 
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I walked away from my first series of honest critiques literally in tears. I knew they were right, from the comments about sanding scratches, to crap finishing to poor design, to overpriced work. I’d put my soul into my work and it felt like personal rejection, even though it wasn’t. But I kept at it, kept asking for critique from the ones I knew were honest, and now my pipes don’t suck as bad 4 years later. And now I’m quite sure I’m my own harshest critic. I never finish a pipe without an idea of what I can improve on next time.

Honest critique is a rite of passage into pipe making. Very few makers get good without it.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 10:36 pm 
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I do think this board could benefit from some price level grouping for its critiques. Like, I've been fulltime for 20 years, I never look at a pipe without balancing what I see wrong with it with how many labor hours it took. A lot of the critiques I see here are basically, "Here's what you need to do to make your pipe worth $500" and not everyone wants or needs that, nor are they all necessarily *ever* going to be able to achieve that no matter how much they try. When I'm asked to critique something, my first questions are all monetary - How much do you want to sell this for, how much would you eventually like to be selling your pipes for, etc. If it's a hobbyist guy who's only looking to whittle out some $65 pipes in his spare time, it's an insult to him and a waste of my time to go hyper-picky on his work, for instance.

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PostPosted: Sun Sep 24, 2017 11:08 pm 
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By and large, that is taken into account. If you follow this or most other critique threads, we find out how many pipes in a guy is, if he is cutting stems or fitting pre-mades, etc. Then the critique is aimed at certain stuff to do on the next pipe. We don't break out the Golden Ratio talk or work over a pipe like it's supposed to be a Bo Nordh if the guy has made 3 pipes. What happened here is that every single thing we mentioned was met with denial, so we got more and more detailed, and less and less polite.

I think most of the early pipe critique in this section of the board is real good. And truth is, we have a "high grade" critique section in the pro section, and THAT is super detailed, because most of the guys there a) can handle it and b) have some fucking clue what is being talked about. Telling a new maker that the proportions of a pipe are bad is not actually telling him anything useful. Because he doesn't know what unbad is. Baby steps, and that's usually what's done.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:14 am 
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TreverT wrote:
Good grief, how many pipemakers *are* clustered here in NC now?

I was only aware of you and Mr. Huber - who am I missing?

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:24 am 
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TreverT wrote:
I do think this board could benefit from some price level grouping for its critiques. Like, I've been fulltime for 20 years, I never look at a pipe without balancing what I see wrong with it with how many labor hours it took. A lot of the critiques I see here are basically, "Here's what you need to do to make your pipe worth $500" and not everyone wants or needs that, nor are they all necessarily *ever* going to be able to achieve that no matter how much they try. When I'm asked to critique something, my first questions are all monetary - How much do you want to sell this for, how much would you eventually like to be selling your pipes for, etc. If it's a hobbyist guy who's only looking to whittle out some $65 pipes in his spare time, it's an insult to him and a waste of my time to go hyper-picky on his work, for instance.

Agreed all around - though I would love to read that, even were it in the form of bullet points (i.e. "at this price point, here are the specific criteria that almost certainly need to be met" or "this is what separates a $500 pipe from a $250 pipe"), etc.
Sasquatch wrote:
By and large, that is taken into account. If you follow this or most other critique threads, we find out how many pipes in a guy is, if he is cutting stems or fitting pre-mades, etc. Then the critique is aimed at certain stuff to do on the next pipe. We don't break out the Golden Ratio talk or work over a pipe like it's supposed to be a Bo Nordh if the guy has made 3 pipes. What happened here is that every single thing we mentioned was met with denial, so we got more and more detailed, and less and less polite.

I agree wholeheartedly - again, newb carver/poster but I lurked for years and read A LOT. One thing that has definitely changed over the years is that critique has gotten more detailed and more honest, in a lot of cases - and that's good. It's extremely helpful when guys post pipes that look very good to me and they still get picked apart. Just seeing people get told "it's great!" doesn't help anyone improve.

Sasquatch wrote:
I think most of the early pipe critique in this section of the board is real good. And truth is, we have a "high grade" critique section in the pro section, and THAT is super detailed, because most of the guys there a) can handle it and b) have some fucking clue what is being talked about. Telling a new maker that the proportions of a pipe are bad is not actually telling him anything useful. Because he doesn't know what unbad is. Baby steps, and that's usually what's done.

Holy hell would I love to read that.
Eventually... :shock: :?: :lol:

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 11:22 am 
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RickB wrote:
TreverT wrote:
Good grief, how many pipemakers *are* clustered here in NC now?

I was only aware of you and Mr. Huber - who am I missing?



There used to be a guy named Perry but he was strictly a $50-whittler sort of fellow. Seems like I've heard of a couple others but can't think of the names now. I don't really keep up with pipe world social stuff much, though - Too busy making pipes! I did meet David once at Pipe & Pint, though, not long after he got started. Seems like a cool guy.

Regarding critiques, take all of them with a grain of salt. The ultimate arbiter is not some detail-obsessive collector going over your pipe with a magnifier, or some wannabe expert finger-wagging in order to show off how smart *he* thinks he is, but instead, will it sell? You can do everything "right" by the sages and still produce boring, uninspired work that doesn't appeal to anyone, and you can make all sorts of "mistakes" according to the nitpickers but still produce visually dynamic and creative work that reaches out and *grabs* people. Ultimately, critical acclaim only feeds the ego - Regular sales buy groceries.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 12:58 pm 
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TreverT wrote:
The ultimate arbiter is not some detail-obsessive collector going over your pipe with a magnifier, or some wannabe expert finger-wagging in order to show off how smart *he* thinks he is, but instead, will it sell? You can do everything "right" by the sages and still produce boring, uninspired work that doesn't appeal to anyone, and you can make all sorts of "mistakes" according to the nitpickers but still produce visually dynamic and creative work that reaches out and *grabs* people.


Literally true in the sense that examples of that can be found in hindsight---a good example is Michail Revyagin---but inattention to detail keeps far more carvers from being accepted by collectors than the other way around.

Put another way, for your designs to be "given a pass" for sloppy implementation they must be remarkable indeed. And hitting all the right notes with the buying public in that way is more luck than planning. It's kind of like the music business... there are LOTS of talented musicians, but only a handful become pop stars.

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Last edited by LatakiaLover on Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 1:02 pm 
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True words, Trever. In the end, it's got to sell.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:11 pm 
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CAPITALIST PIGS!

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 8:12 pm 
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Actually TT is right on and I'll flesh it out just a hair - selling a pipe or two or three is easy. It's the fifth of the week that's hard. Or the 33rd of the month. Or the 145th of the year. That daily "is this good enough and does somebody want it" formula. That's tough to get right.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:08 pm 
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Sasquatch wrote:
Actually TT is right on and I'll flesh it out just a hair - selling a pipe or two or three is easy. It's the fifth of the week that's hard. Or the 33rd of the month. Or the 145th of the year. That daily "is this good enough and does somebody want it" formula. That's tough to get right.



Add on to that the "Third Year Blues"... That stage in your fulltime career when you're no longer the "hot new guy" that everyone's buzzing about. All the talk has shifted over to the next "next Bo Nordh" and all the buyers who wanted your "early work, before you got expensive" have now drifted off to find other "early work" to buy. That's the crunch time when you've still got to make enough to pay the bills every month AND also tends to be when one starts realizing just how much they actually need to make per hour to make a genuine living wage. All the guys who thought, "Well, this took ten hours to make so $10/hour is fair price, I'll sell it for $100" realize just how deep the hole is that they've dug for themselves by underpricing their labor while simultaneously making their reputation as a guy who sells $500 worth of work for $150.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 25, 2017 10:42 pm 
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I converted "hot new guy" into "same old shit" and luckily for me, that's just exactly what tons of guys want. Another billiard. So, okay.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 8:30 am 
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Sasquatch wrote:
I converted "hot new guy" into "same old shit" and luckily for me, that's just exactly what tons of guys want. Another billiard. So, okay.

I've mentioned this elsewhere, but for the foreseeable future, I'm basically planning on carving pipes in pairs: one billiard (for learning), and one 'fun' one attempting to ape the Danish/Danish American style shapes I love (for learning different things, TIAFO'ing it, satisfying the creative itch, etc.).

I've got a little queue of people who want one - people who've seen them on FB or in person who ask me how much I'm selling them for - I'm doing a couple as gifts to family/old friends, but will be moving to selling for the cost of materials (for the pair) shortly - this is my hobby that I do during my spare time - it relaxes me and I enjoy it - so until I'm good, I'm not worried about being reimbursed for my time - I'll be spending that time doing this anyway.

For each pair, I'm letting the recipient choose which pipe he wants (another idea I've stolen shamelessly from DocAitch after seeing how he does his PITH entries). I keep the other one for quality control and to make sure I'm continuing to improve. Turns out, people really do want and like billiards. And when people start picking my shape instead of the billiard, maybe then I'll know I'm on to something. Maybe.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:16 am 
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I'm guessing it'll be 50/50. The demand for good pipes is strong, period. There's lots of room in all markets and price points.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 9:52 am 
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Sasquatch wrote:
I'm guessing it'll be 50/50. The demand for good pipes is strong, period. There's lots of room in all markets and price points.

Ha, I've got to start making good pipes first! :lol:

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:40 am 
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Me too! :thumbsup:

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 10:43 am 
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RickB wrote:
Agreed all around - though I would love to read that, even were it in the form of bullet points (i.e. "at this price point, here are the specific criteria that almost certainly need to be met" or "this is what separates a $500 pipe from a $250 pipe"), etc.


If anybody figures out what separates a $500 from a $250 pipe, let me know. From everything I've seen, the difference between the two is price. I've seen $1500 pipes with a noticeable gap between shank and stem. I've seen sanding scratches on $500 pipes. And I've seen pipes sell for under $200 that had better attention to detail than $800 pipes. Fit and finish ought to be there on any pipe. Improper fit and shoddy finish work shouldn't happen on any pipe at any price. Shaping and design are the two main elements that separate an amateur pipe of fair quality from a high grade pipe.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 11:04 am 
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sandahlpipe wrote:
If anybody figures out what separates a $500 from a $250 pipe, let me know. From everything I've seen, the difference between the two is price. I've seen $1500 pipes with a noticeable gap between shank and stem. I've seen sanding scratches on $500 pipes. And I've seen pipes sell for under $200 that had better attention to detail than $800 pipes. Fit and finish ought to be there on any pipe. Improper fit and shoddy finish work shouldn't happen on any pipe at any price. Shaping and design are the two main elements that separate an amateur pipe of fair quality from a high grade pipe.

As a relative newcomer, it seems like there are a good many guys (most of whom I've seen from this forum) who do really excellent work and set a high bar for themselves in terms of fit and finish who sell for ~$200. What's interesting to me is that there looks to be a HUGE quality gap in terms of what separates those pipes from the tons of $100-125 lumps on Instagram.

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PostPosted: Tue Sep 26, 2017 12:19 pm 
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And again a huge quality gap from the 200 to the 400 dollar pipe, excepting outliers. Yes, there are flawed pipes at 1200 bucks. Shouldn't be but is. But by and large when you pick up an S. Bang there's NO mistaking it for a T. Bannard. Likewise, when someone in the know picks up one of my pipes, they might not be dazzled by my cutting edge design, but there are likely to say "This guy knows what he's doing." They might not like every little detail of how I make a pipe. That's cool, again, there's lots of room here. You want to cut your button a little different than me? Great.

On one hand, at a certain point, Tyler's "You know how to get 400 bucks for a pipe? Ask 400 for it." is right, on the other hand, if you start out trying to sell chicken shit as chicken salad, probably it ain't gonna work.

Very recently, I made a couple of method/result changes in my shop. A couple customers of mine have commented on it. And it's that kind of thing, when people are buying at price-point X, that is a guide post. If someone is saying "Wow, this is nicer than the pipe I got from Ryan Alden." then you are on to something.

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