Yeti Pipes

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Fashioning handmade pipes out of Billings, Montana, under the name Yeti, Micah Cryder entered the craft as a multi-generational pipe smoker. His great-grandfather and father had both smoked pipes regularly while Micah was growing up, and in December 2010 he and his brother made their father a pipe for Christmas after taking a Shop class in high school. Gaining insight from online pipe-maker forums and utilizing their Shop class's drill press, they carved a pipe and shaped it on a belt sander in their basement. From there, Micah's brother went to college, but Micah wanted to make more pipes. His early years were burgeoned by continued research on internet forums, but he also sought out Premal Chheda of Smokers' Haven, who helped Micah with basic stem work and finishes processes over the phone as well as during a visit to Chheda's workshop. In 2016, Todd Johnson invited Micah to his workshop in Nashville for several weeks. Todd helped Micah further refine his processes and precision, while also expanding his understanding of lines, shaping, and composition. Since then, Micah has grown into one of the most recognized artisans in the United States, having developed a distinctive shaping style known for its arresting color palettes, stunning finishes, Bakelite stems, and intricate line work.

Micah's overall aesthetic often emphasizes dramatic contrast in his finishes and color palettes while also emphasizing extreme precision in his refined accents, complicated lines and facets, intricate stem work, and incorporation of briar plateau. Combining modern and industrial motifs, Micah's work is singular and inventive, and his pipes are also significantly influenced by a love for J.R.R. Tolkien's The Lord of the Rings and related work. Tolkien's Dwarves in particular have influenced Micah's imagination and creativity from an early age, and such inspiration can be seen in his pipes: There's an interplay of geometric and organic forms in his work, pushing geometry to the extreme and often using rare, prized materials. These aspects combine with art deco motifs to render handmade pipes that very well could have been made and smoked by Tolkien's Dwarves — carefully wrought, incredibly precise, and altogether singular.

Among the most recognizable aspects of Micah's pipes are his use of Bakelite and his finishing work. He first saw Bakelite used in Todd's pipes, and Micah specifically loved Todd's use of colorful Bakelite. Friendships with Micah Redmond and Sam Adebayo — two other pipe carvers who utilize Bakelite — furthered Micah's interest in the material. Bakelite isn't readily available, however, but Micah enjoyed the quest to find it. The effort required to procure it only increased his fondness for Bakelite. There's no modern material quite like it; high-end Bakelite is synthetic yet behaves and appears more like amber or a gemstone, conveying the aesthetic of a rare, naturally occurring material. For Micah, there's a certain romanticism to Bakelite in that regard. His use of Bakelite also connects to Micah's attention to precision and quality in his work. Bakelite is a harder material than vulcanite, so it dulls tools more quickly and can be brittle to work with, requiring more care and attention. Moreover, it's often semi-translucent, so when Bakelite is used for a stem, the airway is visible and must be perfectly slotted and well polished.

As with his stem work, Micah is incredibly precise and meticulous in his finishes. Throughout his career, he's sought the perfect contrast finish inspired, in part, by Tom Eltang's since-discontinued Golden Contrast stain. Micah is consistently driven by a desire to push everything further and test limits, and he approaches pipe making from that same standpoint. How intricately can these lines be shaped? How elaborate can a stem be? How much contrast is possible in a stain? How glassy can a finish be? Over the years, Micah has gradually and painstakingly improved his process to achieve such a finish — one that showcases dramatic contrast, greater vibrancy, and more vivid, intense, and saturated colors. Since mid-2020, all of his pipes are finished using this complicated, time-consuming process, but Micah has incorporated it systematically, ensuring quality and consistent results on each pipe.

Micah's pipes are incredibly engineered and meticulously precise in every aspect, and he's developed sustainable processes that maintain efficiency in the face of complexity and afford him the necessary time and space to be creative and focus on shaping. From mirror-like finishes of impossible contrast and arresting color palettes to inventive shaping with art deco flourishes and stems of antique Bakelite, Yeti pipes are handcrafted with the utmost precision, skill, and artistry.