Silver Gray has always had a love of making things by hand. Her father taught her the importance of knowing how to improvise, so her eventual interest in pipe making wasn't something too extraneous. With three decades of accounting experience, Silver translated her refined habits of exactness and attention to detail into her pipe making and developed her carving skills quickly and adeptly under the tutelage of fellow American Brad Pohlmann. It's with good nature, though, when Silver admits that she and Brad still hold onto the very first pipe she made as a lesson in humility.
After years of apprenticeship under Pohlmann, the two artisans now share a workshop in Oregon, and it's only natural that Brad has had a hand in influencing Silver's style. That being said, though, she has fostered her own, individual approach to pipemaking over the years, expounding and building upon the technical foundation Brad helped instill. Always looking to remain stylistically fresh, Silver frequently stretches herself creatively and looks to a variety of other carvers for inspiration. Among those other influences, she counts the work of Sixten Ivarsson first and foremost, as his innovative shapes and style captured her appreciation from the very beginning of her pipe making journey.
As much as interesting forms and design experimentation play into Silver's work, at her core she's an artisan whose first priority is that all of her pieces feature the best possible smoking qualities, counting comfortable ergonomics, precise drilling, and sound engineering as paramount aspects of her creations. After all — at the end of the day, it's not a great pipe if it's not a great smoking pipe. As a testament to this balanced approach and her talent and diligence as an artisan, Silver earned the award of Best Pipe of Show at the 2018 West Coast Pipe Show, becoming the first female carver to do so and cementing her place as one of America's finest pipe makers.