John Wolfe: Artisan Pipe Maker Featured in Indy News

By Ruth Serven: Indy Star

During the day, John Wolf is a carpenter. Late at night, he’s a Domino’s deliveryman. But for a few hours each evening, he gets to do what he truly loves: sit at a table in a hot warehouse and carve tobacco pipes.

Wolf, 25, has used and admired pipes for years. Five months ago, he moved his young family from Michigan to Indianapolis, following his dream of becoming a pipe maker.

Rather than learning the craft on his own, Wolf apprenticed himself to Nate King, who owns a workshop on the north side.

“I could look at forums or watch YouTube videos, but they’re not talking to me,” he said. “I’m here for this. It’s given me so much clarity about certain parts of the process.”

King’s shop is stocked with his grandparents’ furniture, a room full of drills, shapers and sandblasters, nut-brown wood shipped from Greece and Italy, bamboo roots and Bakelite dug out of German flea markets.

His pipes range from $400 to $4,000, depending on the style and quality of materials. He applies the precision he learned in former careers as an Indy-car tech and airplane mechanic.

Sometimes King, who has been making pipes full-time for eight years, takes pleasure in making simple pipes. Other times, he spends days creating something one-of-a-kind, such as a gold-studded seahorse-inspired pipe and a hovering pipestand.

“Everything we make has been done many times, over hundreds of years,” King said. “Sometimes I’m just looking for… For the rest of the article from the Indy Star, click here. 



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