Brighton James Pipes

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Art and art history comprised much of Brighton James de los Santos' early education — including trips to Italy and Greece — and this saturated exposure imbued him with a fascination for art and design. Even before crafting his first pipe, Brighton was captivated by the medium's design potential and he enjoyed sketching creative and avant-garde pipe shapes. He soon discovered online pipe-maker forums and began working on pipe kits with files, sandpaper, and a drill press. The process satiated his artistic mind, but he needed tools and further guidance to pursue pipe making more seriously.

During a semester abroad in Europe, Brighton traveled to Italy for his mid-term break. He contacted Mimmo Romeo and spent two weeks with the Italian carver and famed briar cutter, who introduced Brighton to the entire pipe-making process as well as how to read and work with briar as a medium. While learning about the pipe-making process, Brighton also discovered the work of notable artisan carvers, and the aesthetic choices of Hiroyuki Tokutomi and Takeo Arita in particular captivated Brighton and continue to inspire his exploration of form and design in his own work.

Returning home, Brighton gradually improved his workshop with a lathe and other requisite tools, and in 2013 he attended his first pipe show, in Chicago. The constructive criticism he received there from well-established artisans was instrumental not only in honing his eye for design but also in fostering a positive attitude toward feedback on his work — an essential attribute to his growth and excellence as a pipe maker.

Most notably, Brighton met Alex Florov, Jeff Gracik, and Steve Liskey at the 2013 Chicago Pipe Show, and each one invited the younger carver to spend time in their respective workshops over the next four years. During this time, Brighton truly cut his teeth as a pipe maker, refining his ability to overcome workshop obstacles as well as perfect his pipe-making process.

Today, Brighton James pipes exude a singular design aesthetic inspired by Brighton's ever-creative artistry and supported by his impressive skills as a craftsman. He approaches pipe making from a highly sculptural lens, always seeking to create innovative, never-before-seen designs that often display a futuristic, sci-fi style, while also often incorporating aquatic themes into his work — inspired by a life spent near the ocean and a love for the life it contains.

Brighton James pipes synthesize his love for pipe-making history and the tradition of revered masters before him, and before cutting into a briar block, Brighton sketches each of his designs at least 30 times, constantly revising and evolving the form until satisfied with the final objective. Exotic materials like mammoth, musk ox horn, amber, and precious metals often adorn Brighton James pipes, and his most highly regarded works are graded with a bezel-set sapphire or a diamond representing his superlative pieces.

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