News, Articles, and More

  • One Year and Still Tickin!

    Despite all the naysayers, threats of draconian regulations, nights of ramen noodle dinners, confusing tax policies, and endless hours in the workshop Blue Room Briars, the online store I launched with Scott Townsend, is still alive and kicking. In fact, it is thriving. Don't get me wrong, we're a long way from providing a stable standard of living for two full time employees, but our first year of operation has, frankly, exceeded my expectations.

    It's incredible the amount of work that Scott and I have put into this business, and while I'm not sure we've achieved "well oiled machine" status, we are no longer just two guys, one basement, one garage, a laptop and a lathe. I have a fully equipped, insulated workshop and Scott has a cozy office set up surrounded by filing cabinets and hundreds of pipes from all over the globe. We've catalogued over 1000 pipes. I've made over 100, and refurbished another 700 or so. We've introduced our own line of production pipes and gathered artisans from across three continents, and as good as this may sound, we're just getting started.

    Making so many pipes has increased my speed and skill. Although I take a lot of commissions, it's nice to be freed from any design constraints. I can finally explore my own aesthetic and finish some ideas I've had in the works for years. Here's a nice group shot of some of the latest to come out of the shop, courtesy of Scott's excellent photo editing mojo.

    Regarding the FDA Boogeyman, the whisper around Washington is that the grandfather date for the deeming regulations will be moved up from 2007 to 2016. This is great news for a lot of people, me included, although it's best not to count chickens before they hatch. In the meantime keep your fingers crossed and pray that a modicum of common sense will prevail. 

    Of course, none of the success Blue Room Briars has achieved would be possible without you. Thank you guys so much for the support, kind words, encouragement, prayers, and patronage. While it has been an emotional roller coaster, one thing I can say is that at the end of every day I stop and consider how good it feels to be doing what I love, not for someone else, but for myself. Thanks for making that possible.

    - Jesse

  • Life Changes, New Ventures, and the FDA

    The last several months have been many things, but none of it could be described as calm and uneventful. As many of you may know, and many more may not, I stopped working for Smokers’ Haven in March. While I certainly learned a lot during my tenure there and am grateful for all the opportunities provided to me I can honestly say the outcome will be beneficial in the long run, although uncertainty and stress in the short term has been near crippling. Coupled with the new “deeming regulation” released by the FDA in May, I have undertaken prayerful consideration and sought much counsel concerning the direction I want to take my pipe making career, and life in general. That is the purpose of this newsletter, to let my faithful subscribers know what has occurred since our last correspondence and discuss my future plans.

    After finding myself unemployed and without a workshop there were several things I knew. First, no matter what it took, I was going to make pipes. I still had the obligation and honor of making the Greater Kansas City Pipe Collector’s Club Pipe of the Year and several commissions (some of which are still on the list to finish). Second, I needed a way to make some income. Staying involved in the pipe community was my first preference, but I knew it wasn’t necessarily the most lucrative occupation, no matter how rewarding the work. I decided to start applying for jobs related to my previous work experience and education.

    The first priority was to finish the GCKPC Club Pipes. I spent about a week in Indianapolis hosted by the most gracious Nate King and Michael Linder at Briar Lab. Thanks to them, I was able to do most of the machine work necessary to finish the project. When I returned home with a box full of bowls and stem blanks I purchased what I needed to finish the project in my garage. I’m pleased to say that I completed the pipes in a timely fashion and they were well received by the club.
     


    Meanwhile, with job prospects looking rather limited, I began kicking around the idea of going into the pipe business full time. This is something I had often considered in the past, but a few concerns kept me away. First, the income level of a full time pipe maker is pretty meager, especially if you are not a well-known name in the industry. Second, a career making pipes will wear you down over time. Joints weaken, eyesight wains, and you are exposed to dust and certain chemicals that can be damaging if not treated with the proper respect. I’ve always wanted to retire with enough vigor and money to do what I wanted in the autumn of my life. Pipe making isn’t necessarily the most conducive to this goal.

    It was at this juncture that another former Smokers’ Haven employee, Scott Townsend, and I started kicking around the idea of starting our own ecommerce platform built around the selling of pipes, estate pipes, pipe accessories, and pipe tobacco. Starting a business always entails risk, but this idea had, not only unlimited earning potential (I’ve got no illusions of being a millionaire pipe baron), kept me involved with the community I’ve come to know and love over the past six years, and allowed me to continue making pipes. Even if he or I found more suitable and lucrative employment opportunities, an ecommerce website marketing pipes is a job we could conceivable do part time. It was soon settled, and we began laying the groundwork for a business together.

    As is my tradition, in June I also entered the GKCPC Carving Contest. This would not have been possible without the help of hobbyist pipe maker Todd Harris who graciously allowed me to use his workshop to finish the contest pipe. I was not expecting much from my entry, as it had been made with unfamiliar tools and finished in my garage and basement, albeit I did everything I could conceivably think of to make the best pipe I could. Imagine my surprise and excitement when the results were in and I had, for the third year in a row, placed in the carver’s contest. I am deeply honored to be included again, and after considerable obstacles were thrown in my way, overcoming them was certainly a good feeling.


    In June and July, I managed to cobble together much of what I needed to run a successful pipe maker’s workshop. This includes a sophisticated sandblasting setup, and a metal lathe which, with the help of my father and several friends I managed to transport from Texas to my home here in Ohio. My brother was instrumental in helping me refurbish the lathe and do some electrical work around the house. I can’t say how thankful I am to those who helped me with this setup, including my wife who has been better to me than I deserve with her unconditional love and encouragement. Soon I’ll be able to make Jones pipes unhindered and better than ever.

    Nearly 30 job applications later and hundreds of man-hours spent on setting up our business, I’m pleased to say that we are ready to launch our online business. I could regale you with the difficulties and challenges of starting your own business let alone one in the tobacco industry, but I’ll save that for another time. Suffice it to say, Scott and I are pleased to announce the launch of “Blue Room Briars.” I sincerely hope you’ll take the time to browse and if compelled by a particularly handsome pipe, make a purchase.

    So what is the future of Jones pipes? The “Sword of Damocles” hanging over the industry’s head, courtesy of the FDA is still a concern. Until the industry figures out exactly what this entails, I intend to continue to produce fine smoking English classic inspired pipes for the community. Until I’m told I can’t I see no reason to stop. Perhaps it turns out that the sword we’re so concerned about turns out to be a dulled butter knife.

    From this point on, all new Jones pipes will be listed on www.blueroombriars.com. I will continue to send newsletters, update the gallery sections, and answer all correspondence from www.jonespipes.com. Please let me know what you think about the new website. We’re always looking for ways to improve not only the appearance and usability, but customer service as well. Thank you all for the well wishes and shows of support I’ve received in this challenging time.
     
    - Jesse

     

     

  • 2016 at Jones Pipes

    Greetings to all my fellow pipe enthusiasts. I hope that you all had a safe and enjoyable Holiday season and are ready to start the new year right.

    Last year was a difficult year. I am not sorry to see it go. As some of you may or may not be aware, my wife and I purchased our first home in July. That’s good news for those of you waiting patiently for a Jones pipe. I finally have a garage to set up a shop in. In November my family came for a pre-holiday visit and I enlisted the help of my brother and father to help me start building out a workspace I could use. Together we ran more electrical outlets, installed a shaping wheel, hooked up an old dust collector, and did a number of additional improvements to help me get 2016 off to a good start. Lord knows I’ll need time to piece together additional equipment, but now I can complete a significant amount of work without leaving the house.

    I only managed to complete seven Jones pipes in 2015, one of which was a cavalier that earned top honors in the Greater Kansas City Pipe Collectors Carving Contest, but I hope that number will increase significantly this year. This year I also have the distinct honor of collaborating on the GKCPC Pipe of the Year with Smokers’ Haven proprietor and Chheda Pipes owner Premal Chheda.


    Speaking of Chheda Pipes, I made a mess of them last year. I’ve posted a few of my favorites here. Please check out the additional gallery on the website that lists most of the Chheda pipes I’ve made. This will continue to be updated periodically during the year

    For those of you on my commission list, I’m still working on fulfilling all your orders. I’ve been telling customers that a commissioned Jones pipe could take 6 – 12 months to finish. If you’d like to know where you are at on the list, feel free to email me. Hopefully I can reduce the wait time significantly this year.

    Finally, I'd like to thank everyone for their continued support. I was fortunate enough to attend more than a few pipe shows in 2015 and I was surprised at the positive response to my work. I've enjoyed interacting with all of you and I look forward to continuing that relationship this year as well.

    Happy Smokes,

    Jesse

  • 2015 at Jones Pipes

    Ladies and Gentlemen, 2015 at Jones pipes is here (yes I know it’s already late February. Don’t try and tell me you never procrastinate). The purpose of the following few paragraphs is simply to let those interested know what has been occurring in my pipe making career, and give some idea of what the future holds.

    As many of you know, in July of 2014, I began working as a full-time pipemaker at Smokers’ Haven in Columbus, Ohio, responsible for helping create the “Chheda” brand pipes they produce on location. Chheda pipes, though to this point in time, a limited production, are some of the highest grade pipes in the world. Having had the ability to handle pipes from all over the world since my employment, I can say this with confidence.

    For now, I’m still learning many of the fundamentals of what it takes to make a world class pipe, but I’ve already completed dozens of pipe here at the Haven that meet the quality standards of what it takes to be a “Chheda” pipe.

    This is great news for Jones Pipes. You will notice that the last few pipes I produced in 2014 and the pipes that I will produce in 2015 demonstrate a much higher attention to detail than the pipes I produced in the past. The one downside to this arrangement is that I have only a limited amount of time to make Jones Pipes. You are likely to see fewer Jones pipes in the future, but those that are produced will be of impeccable quality. Expect some alterations of my pricing and grading structure to reflect this.

    For now, if you’re curious about what I’m up to, please follow me on Instagram, or hop over to www.smokershaven.com and look at the latest Chheda Pipes. Odds are, I’ve made what you’re looking at. For those who have commissions with me currently or would like to commission a pipe in the future, please be aware that the wait time for a Jones Pipe has increased significantly. Rest assured I’ll fill all my commissions, but it is much longer than my past average of two weeks.

    I also plan on attending many of the pipe shows this year, so please, come over and introduce yourself if you see me. I love getting to know other pipe enthusiasts.

    Until our next encounter I wish you the most pleasant and peaceful of smokes.

     

    Jesse

  • Greater Kansas City Pipe Collectors Show 2014 Recap

    A Major Achievement for Jesse Jones Pipes


    I attended the Greater Kansas City Pipe Club Show this past weekend. I had a wonderful time. Those of you familiar with the show know that a big draw is the North American Pipe Carver's Contest that the club sponsors every year. The judges select the seven best entries and put them into a beautiful set of pipes that is raffled off to one lucky chap. The shape selection this year was the classic English billiard. Nearly 60 pipemakers in North America submitted entries into the contest as did I. Much to my surprise the judges selected my pipe to be included in the seven day set! This is a major achievement for me, and I am very honored the judges selected my pipe.

    Look for pictures of my pipe, the other winners, and all the entries in the next issue of Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine.

    Best to you all,

    Jesse Jones

  • Jesse Jones Pipes Available at Finest Briar

     

    It is only April and I already have more great news from Jesse Jones Pipes. Finestbriar.com will now be offering my pipes to the public. Founded on the love of classic shapes, Finest Briar brings you the timeless and practical shapes of the English classics made by many of the world’s top artisans including Chris Askwith, Chris Asteriou, and K. Anastasopoulos. If you love classic shapes you have got to check out Finestbriar.com.

    When I was initially contacted to supply pipes to Finest Briar, I was excited that there would be an entire website devoted to English classic shapes, and I was honored to be one of the four initial carvers chosen. The aforementioned artisans contributed a lot to my love of quality classic designs. Of course I agreed to work with them wholeheartedly .

    In my mind, there is a gap in the market between mass produced classics and the artisan interpretation thereof. Most classics are turned in factories on huge machines in bulk. The fine details are often ignored; they simply slap a stem in the pre-turned bowl, sand it, buff it, and call it good. One the other hand, artisan carvers painstakingly attend to every facet of a pipe, from polishing the tenon and shank face, to meticulously hand finishing and refining the lines of the pipe, but because the classic shapes are “simple,” artisans often feel that they can’t express themselves by re-creating them. Factories already turn them out en masse and they would rather work on their reverse calabash, jumping blowfish things.

    As a result, few classics are represented in the typical artisan carver’s portfolio. Yet for the consumer with an appreciation of these timeless shapes, and a love for the attention to detail on artisan pipes, there are few pipes that meet both of their standards. This is a pity, and if you ever have the opportunity to pick up a factory turned pipe and a replication of the same shape by an artisan, I encourage you to do so. Not only are the aesthetic differences enlightening, but so are the smoking characteristics.

    Please check out Finest Briar. They’re focus is truly unique in the pipe world, or at least to my knowledge. They also offer free shipping worldwide and secure payments. I am proud to be working with a group of folks who share the same love of the English aesthetic as me, and I hope you pay them a visit.

  • The Quest for the Holy Pipe

    Those of you that know me can definitely attest to my compulsive and often debilitating episodes of PAD (pipe acquisition disorder). Pipes are my passion. I’m constantly on the lookout for pipes that interest me aesthetically, compositionally, that are of particular value, have certain historical significance, or really just about any pipe in general.

    Over the years my collection has swelled dramatically. Currently I own about 160 pipes. These range in nature from typical basket pipes to classic English shapes from famous makers such as Dunhill. Lately, however, I have been particularly interested in other artisan pipes. My primary justification for these purchases has been educational. How do I expect to make a fine handcrafted pipe if I don’t have something to reference? To this end, I have been searching for the pipe that comes the closest to perfection as I can possibly find, a “Holy Grail,” if you will, of pipes. Among my high-grade pipes are four Heeschens, one Walt Cannoy, one Scott Klein, a Todd Johnson, a Jeff Gracik, an Abe Herbaugh, two Rad Davis’s, and several other pipes from lesser-known artisan makers that I respect. Because of the expense of artisan pipes, most of these have been acquired on the estate market.

    Throughout my collecting one name in particular has surfaced time and time again among collectors of the most high-grade pipes. The artisan is a German by the name of Cornelius Maenz. Most of Cornelius’ pipes sell for far more than I’m comfortable paying even on the estate market, however during one of my daily pipe browsing sessions I stumbled across a small estate Cornelius Maenz from Marty Pulvers. Those of you have done business with Marty in the past know that his estate pipe prices are very reasonable. This Maenz was no exception. I quickly emailed Marty and reserved the pipe. Next came several long months of waiting as I gradually paid off the pipe.

    Upon its arrival, I was ecstatic. I had in my possession a pipe made by an artisan who is widely regarded as one of the best in the world, however at first my impressions were mixed. This particular Maenz is a small pipe and rather compact. Everything seemed well done, but nothing about the pipe struck me as particularly spectacular, not enough at least to command the sort of prices they were known for. I spent the next several days examining the pipe turning it over slowly in my hand, examining the bit and the slot, looking at the finish under different lighting, and of course smoking some of the new GL Pease Gaslight blend from it. The more familiar I became the pipe the more impressed I became. For this particular pipe the details were everything. The bit is perfectly polished, no easy task even among artisan craft. The pipe is wonderfully symmetrical, the sandblast even and light, the finish consistent, the drilling impeccable. The draw is smooth and wide-open, and the military mount is excellently finished.

    So what separated this pipe for many of the other artisan pipes in my collection? Did it smoke better? Not really. The pipe delivered a very satisfying dry and tasty smoke, but most of my other artisan pipes do the same. Did this pipe have any sort of revolutionary design concept? Again, not really. I found that, what separated Cornelius’s work from that of many other artisans was simply his painstaking attention to detail. The question the consumer has to ask themselves is whether or not those details justify the price tag. For most the answer is no, but for others who are looking for the “perfect pipe” the answer seems easy.

    As a craftsman the pipe was a good investment. It shows me exactly what one should expect to get when they spend big bucks for a pipe. However it also shows me that I’m on the right track with my own work. My pipes smoke just as good as my Maenz, and can be had a quite a substantially less financial burden. Perhaps the debate really narrows to whether a pipe should be a tool to burn tobacco, art, or some blend of the two, but that, friends, is a discussion for another time.

  • Jesse Jones Pipes now Available at TPC

    Well here it is: the first big news of 2014. Jesse Jones pipes will now be available at the Pipe Tobacco Collectors online store. In December I had the opportunity to speak with Mike Lancaster, the driving force behind TPC. It was very obvious that Mike had a passion, not only for pipe collecting but for supporting up-and-coming carvers. After explaining TPC’s philosophy Mike offered to host my pipes for sale on the TPC website. Obviously, I was thrilled by this prospect, and so my first three pipes of 2014 will soon be available at TPC with more to come in the future.

    While you’re at the TPC website, I hope you also take the time to check out the other cool features Mike has, including pipes by great new artisan carvers, blog posts, exclusive interviews, and unique TPC products. TPC also offers a club membership for a small fee that gives members significant discounts at a number of online retailers.

    In other news, my commission list is growing so don’t expect any products available for the general public within the next week or so however if you curious to see what I’m up to be sure you follow me on Instagram @jessejonespipes.

    I plan on launching into what I hope is a multipart series on the reverse calabash soon. Additional topics might include my absolute loathing of repair work, new fads in the pipe world, and the future of the artisan carver explosion. If you’d like me to talk about a specific topic shoot me an email through my contact form on this website. If I like the suggestion I’d be more than happy to do a blog post about it.

    Last but not least, I decided to order myself a little present for my birthday. I should be receiving a “new to me” estate Cornelius Maenz pipe. Cornelius is regarded as one of, if not the world’s best artisan carver. I can’t wait to get this pipe and see exactly what separates Cornelius’s work from other carvers. I hope to learn as much as I can from the pipe and emulate what makes it so great in my own designs. Expect the blog post highlighting and discussing the features of my new Maenz.

    Happy Puffing

  • 2014 at Jones Pipes

    Happy late new year from Jones Pipes! Those of you who frequent my website might be speculating about my recent inactivity. Let me assure you that I’ve been far from dormant. In fact, I’ve been so busy filling commissions I have not had any time to post new product on the website since Halloween. I’ve made about 10 pipes since October all of which have been spoken for. For the most part I have kept the pictures updated but have neglected to post on this blog for quite some time. I hope to change that this year. There are a plethora of topics about which I could speak. On my mind lately has been the increasing number of fads in the pipe community (the reverse calabash and the nose warmer being two of them), the dramatic increase in artisan carvers, what it would really take to make pipes full-time, and whether or not there is a so-called “pipe bubble.” My plan is to speak about each of these subjects at some length on this blog. That should engage those of you who require the constant stimuli of the digital age if there are any extended periods of time in which I have no pipes to offer.

    Other than posting in the blog more frequently I have other big plans this year as well. My goal is to participate in the Kansas City pipe carving contest again this year. The theme for 2014 is the billiard. Because I pride myself in my classic designs I really hope I have a shot of placing in the contest this year. I also have a goal of attending several more pipe shows throughout the year, including Kansas. Meeting with fellow pipe smokers and building relationships with them is something I can do easily at pipe shows and it is also something I truly enjoy. Finally, I’ll have an important announcement to make sometime in February so make sure you watch your emails for my newsletter.

    If you absolutely cannot wait for the next blog post or the next newsletter, you can always follow me on Instagram @jessejonespipes. There I post photos several times a week of what I’m currently working on. You’ll have the opportunity to view works in progress, offer comments on designs, and maybe even reserve products before they hit the website. To give you an example of the kinds of things I post, here’s a photo I put up in late December.

    Thanks to all of you who helped make 2013 a great pipe making year for me. I know 2014 will be even better, and I hope to serve you in the future.

  • Happy Halloween from Jones Pipes!

    Happy Halloween to all. I hope you have been enjoying the changing of the seasons. I personally love autumn and winter. Time seems to slow down from the rapid bustle of the summer. It gives one time to sit, contemplate, and enjoy a good pipe while nature goes into hibernation.

    And speaking of pipes, I have quite an update for you all this evening. I have been very prolific this last week and so I have added a bevy of new Jones pipes to the website. And we have variety as well: a squat bulldog, a bent diamond shanked billiard, and how could I forget the first Jones Halloween pipe, which just so happened to be the 31st pipe I completed in 2013. In total there have been five new pipes added to the site, although several are reserved for customers.

    I'd also like you guys to notice the improving quality in my product. I've started dailing in my stem work, improving my polish, and creating more balanced yet classic compositions. I really am trying to get you guys the absolute best pipe on the market for your money. So if you've been on the fence about a Jones pipe, now would be a great time to jump in.

    2013 Jones Halloween Pipe