Q:Where are you from ? Where are you living ?
A: I am from north China, a coastal city named Yantai. Now I am living in Suzhou which is an ancient city near Shanghai.
Q:Are you a pipe smoker ? If so, what are your favorite pipes and tobaccos?
A: Yes, I am a pipe smoker. I'd like to try all types of pipes, made of different materials. English blends are my favorite.
Q:When did you start ? Did you get any guidance from established carvers ?
Q:What motivates you ? Are you influenced by the work of certain carvers?
I started pipe smoking in 2009, before that I only smoke cigarettes. I am easy to be nervous and anxious. It is said that pipe smoking can help relaxing, so I tried, and was deeply attracted by the great feeling. With increased experience in pipes and tobaccos, economic factory pipes and cheap tobaccos could no longer satisfy me. However, high quality handmade pipes were not affordable to young man who just started his job. So I decided to hunt some pre-smoked pipes. Estate pipe market in China was not as prosperity as today. Most of estate pipes were sold without any refurbishment or cleaning. After refurbished some estate pipes myself, I felt that I could make a pipe myself. Then I ordered some pre-drilled hobby briar blocks online, and started making some pipes by using files and sandpapers.
My major motivations of briar curving came from my father, who was a wood pattern technician. Although he never made any pipes, I learned a lot from him about how to carve woods as well as using wood carving machines. My early knowledge of professional pipe making was gained from videos which were available on some Chinese websites. During that period, I also got help from some Chinese pipe makers like Leizhoupipes and Li Bing. We communicated via phone as well as online chatting. Since Internet Censorship is getting less strict in Mainland China, I can now interact with many excellent pipe makers worldwide through the social networks (e.g., Facebook Instragram). I have been inspired by many talented pipe makers as well as their gorgeous work.
Q:Do you make pipes for a living or do you have another job ?
A: I was an urban designer, like an architect. Now I am a full time pipe maker, making pipes for living.
Q:What briar source do you use ? How long do you cure your wood ?
A: My briars come from Badalco, Itialy. In the cutting factory, the briars have been cured long enough to use. However I continue cure them at least two more years, and some high grade blocks even longer.I do think that we should trust our wood cutter fully,as a cook trust his food ingredients suppliers.It is very improtant for succeed.They are the experts on briar,we are not.
Q:What materials are your stems made of ?
A: I use Ebonite made by SEM in Germany for the stem of my pipe.
Q:Do you use decorations that are typical of your style ?
A: I am not sure what kind of decorations is my typical style. I like to try different decorations, but prefer natural materials.
Q:How many pipes do you make in a year ?
A: Less than 80/year now. But I made about 120 during the first year of my carving career.
Q:Do you make pipes in all finishes ? What is your favorite finish ? Why ?
A: Smooth and rustic finishes are more often seen in my pipes. I don’t own a sandblasting equipment, so the number of sandblasted pipes is less than others.
I prefer to make more smooth pipes in order to exhibit the beautiful grains of high grade briars. Regarding staining, I like natural or high contrast colors which, of course, require higher quality of the briars.
Q:Describe how you make a pipe.
A: Not like many pipe makers who draft on papers before implementing the design. My ideas are usually generated from the grains of individual briars. A design idea in my mind is getting more and more clear during the carving process. Sometimes an adjustment might change the original design a lot.
Q：Explain your grading system.
A：I have cancelled my grading from July 2014. Because there were too much meaning of Chinese traditional culture in my grading system, which confused my dealers and clients who live outside China.
Q:Is there anything about your pipes you want to point out ?
A: As a beginning pipe maker with limited experience on briar carving, I keep trying to form my own unique style. I would like to express my thoughts by trying various forms (e.g., shapes, finishes, colors, decorations, etc.) However, functionality of a pipe matters the most. To me, the essence a pipe is tool rather than art. I spend plenty of time on improving the details of the functionality of pipes.
Read more in French http://www.fumeursdepipe.net/pipiersZzhesong.htm
Read more in www.smokingpipes.com