Though Charles Cole lives and carves out of Star Valley, Wyoming, he spent his formative years working in the tobacco fields of Kentucky. Creating and caring of the noble weed, from seedling to the curing barns, is back breaking work, but it inculcated within Charles a ground-level appreciation for fine tobacco that is second to none. All too often, we have seen that talent and passion do not always reside within the same soul. From early on Charles discovered both an amazing ability to hand create things of beauty (his knives would be a fine example), as well as the drive to relentlessly improve. A few years ago, Charles' appreciation for the bright leaf and his uncanny talent for creating with his hands found the perfect marriage within the noble briar, and collectors around the world have cause to celebrate.
Mr. Cole's innate talents and drive were honed/encouraged by other pipe artisan's, a list of whom would constitute a virtual "Who's Who" of the pipe carving world, and to call the results spectacular would be an understatement; within four scant years there is a long waiting list for his briars, and the name of yours truly was just added to the list.
Charles works with the finest materials obtainable, and his attention to details and engineering are pleasantly daunting. His tenons are chamfered and cut within 1-1.5mm of flush within the mortise (just enough room to allow the warm briar to expand and not cause the bit to be pushed out from flush). His draft holes are right where God intended them, and his thin bits are slotted to perfection. As far as the draw goes on a Cole pipe? Effortless, Charles' goal of having his pipes deliver the cleanest, truest flavors of fine tobacco wouldn't allow otherwise.
Whether traditional, inspired by one of today's neo-classics, or derivative of the rugged, natural beauty that surrounds Charles' studio, Cole's shapes never fail to delight and amaze. In a recent chat with a (very) prominent pipe maker on the subject of Charles' pipes, the artist held the opinion that Mr. Cole's briars occupied a firm hold near the top of the American tier: "There are some carvers out there who can come close to matching his attention to detail, but only a couple who can match his talent for shaping". I couldn't have said it better, myself.Bear Graves
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