While many other pipe makers' origin stories begin at careers in other industries, Brad Pohlmann actually left pipe making for another career, only to return years later. It all started in 1976, a year after Brad had returned from what he dubs a "pipe pilgrimage" to Great Britain, visiting the great marques of old. He decided, then, that he wanted to open his own tobacco shop in which he planned to one day sell his own carved creations. He needed training though, so Brad set off, hitchhiking across the country from his home in San Diego to New York City, meeting with any and every pipe maker he could in the distance between. The goal was to connect with carver Finn Meyan Andersen, whom Pohlmann had once met at a pipe show in NYC. However, Finn was no longer in New York, and rumor had it that the Dane was in Vermont, working for The Briar Workshop. Unfortunately, by the time Brad arrived, Finn had departed from there as well. That did little to deter Pohlmann, though, and he decided to stay and join in the collaborative work that Elliott Nachwalter and Jorg Jemelka were doing. Within a year or so, the trio added J.T. Cooke to their band of pipe makers, and Brad enjoyed another five years making pipes and honing his craft.
In 1980, though, the now more experienced carver returned to California and completed a four-year Tool & Die apprenticeship in order to refine his pipe machining skills. It was then that Brad's pipe making took an unexpected pause as he spent the next 16 years working in the computer industry with very little time to devote to pipes, save for the few he made for friends or the every-so-often repair.
Finally, in 2003, Brad returned to his first love, starting Pohlmann Pipes and carving full-time, much to the joy of his customers and collectors. Based in rural Oregon, he now shares a workshop with fellow American pipe maker Silver Gray, as the towering trees and crisp mountain rivers of the Pacific Northwest provide the perfect, peaceful locale to prompt the two carvers' creativity.
With his experienced training in tool and die making, Brad is the type of artisan that considers engineering to be paramount when it comes to rendering a pipe. Working with vulcanite rod and Delrin tenons, Pohlmann pipes often include accents such as exotic woods and horn, with the occasional use of bamboo, and are finished in either exquisite, smooth finishes or one of Brad's expert sandblasts. No matter which shape or accoutrement he's inspired to use on a given piece, though, each Pohlmann pipe is carved from carefully selected briar and is beautifully stained and finished to bring out the best of what his hands have fashioned.