Sam Cui Pipes
Sam Cui, like many artisans in the West, took a circuitous path to pipemaking, though various seeds leading towards this later interest were planted early. Born in Dalian, Liaoning Province in 1976, Sam's formal education culminated with a college major in Japanese, which no doubt served him well during his 15 year long career in Japanese cuisine; in earlier years however it was watching automobiles and machinery at work which fascinated him, along with a woodworking bug he picked up from his grandfather, a carpenter.
These influences from childhood and early youth came back to haunt him, as it were, when he was first introduced to the pipe, and the idea of creating pipes as functional art-forms - it was only a matter of time then before he had to start making his own. And now make them he does, inspired particularly by the beauty he sees in the lines of natural things; as he's often sought to capture these in his hobby of photography, so in his pipemaking Sam Cui now endeavors to create them through his own design. While art is certainly evident in his shapes and compositions however, Sam maintains an understanding that pipe is, ultimately, a pipe, and as a smoking instrument first concerns should go towards how it in fact smokes - matters of proper and careful drilling and engineering, and forms that are comfortable and pleasing to handle.
Amongst his personal favorite tobaccos Sam counts Escudo, Dunhill Flake, Balkan Sasieni, and McClelland's Dark Star. His present production (working full-time) runs at around 80 pipes per year, and as of this writing, he's really looking forward to attending his first Chicago show in 2015.