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Large Orange Bent Egg Smooth Pipe with Diamond Stem and Shank

My Pipe Story

Lake Arrowhead, CA
The entire family would meet at my grandparent's A-frame cabin in the San Bernardino mountains for long holiday weekends in the small town of Blue Jay California, just a couple miles from scenic Lake Arrowhead.  My Father and my Uncle Jim would often fire up a pipe as we set out on our after-dinner walk, the wonderful smell of tobacco wafting around the majestic pines in the cool night.

I received my first pipe from my father when I was just a teenager.  The pipe had a cracked bowl and had been crudely repaired with glue.  While my high school buddies and I did give pipe smoking a whirl, we did not have the patience to stick with it.  The pipe has been long discarded, but there is a photo with me and said pipe and my little brother with a cigar.  I am sure my father thought it might be a good photo, and it was.

Shibuya, Japan
It wasn't until years later when I was living and working in Tokyo that I bought my first real pipe.  I had been working in the heart of Shibuya, a trendy and insanely busy part of Tokyo.  In fact, the office overlooked the massive intersection that pedestrians cross (or scramble) across that is often featured on TV or YouTube.

Often before and after work I would walk around Shibuya and window shop, as it is a largely shopping district full of shops and restaurants.  I discovered a tobacco shop that seemed to serve foreigners due to their carrying all sorts of international cigarettes, cigars, snuff, and so on.  I was snowboarding quite a lot then, and thought how great it would be to have a pipe after a long day of snowboarding in the mountains of Hokkaido.

Pipe maker Rex Walden with a Blasted Tsuge Knight

I decided on a Tsuge "Knight" from a train station tobacconist.  It was a bent black blasted egg shaped midsize pipe complete with a silver box and pipe sock.  I then began to try different pipe tobaccos, though in Asia the selection and prices are not what they are in the States (fewer and more expensive).  At that time though, airports in Japan or places like Singapore would have duty free pipe tobacco from Dunhill or Borkum Riff, primarily for visiting foreigners, as it is rare to see pipe smokers in Asia.

After 6 years overseas I returned to the States, finished graduate school, got married, and swiftly moved to central Texas to start a new job.  It wasn't until I bought my first home complete with a small workshop that I started making pipes.  I started out with a pre-drilled kit.  Then I watched many great videos of pipe makers sharing how they made their pipes, and then read and reread many forum postings and pipe making websites.  I started to buy and modify other tools for pipe making, and then started ordering more briar.

In the shop, with a Rex Walden chubby nose warmer pipe.

I would say that I am heavily influenced by Danish pipe making masters and many of their trademark shapes and also by the many Japanese pipe makers, having spent a lot of time in that area of the world.  That being said, I admire and respect so many emerging and contemporary American pipe makers that I see producing some truly inspiring pipes.

The thing I like most about pipe making is the "getting lost" part.  When I head out to the shop, fire up a pipe, and get to work on a piece of aged briar, the problems and stresses of everyday life fades away- the clock seems to speed up and I feel excitement as the pipe begins to emerge from the block.  My reward for the hours I put into a pipe is knowing eventually another pipe smoking brother or sister will enjoy the fruits of my labor.

I am also excited that (thanks in large part to the Internet) the pipe hobby is now truly global.  My pipes, so far are being enjoyed as far away as Indonesia- having spent some time in that corner or the world, it is really exciting for me to make connections with some of my customers from far away and collaborate on their ideas and wants.  I tend to take my time with each pipe that I make, focussing on one at a time, rather than making bunches of them simultaneously.  Since I am not a full time pipe maker, I am able to enjoy that freedom and truly take my time with each piece.  Thank you for reading!

If you are interested in a pipe on this website or if you have something that you want custom made, drop me an email at rexwaldenpipes@gmail.com

Thank you and Keep Puffin',

-Rex Walden

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