A Farewell To Bruce

Bruce Weaver

Ask any collector of artisan pipes, and they'll tell you the same: Meeting your first pipemaker is a special moment. There's a feeling of wonder as you put a face to the craftsmanship behind your favorite smoker. That personal connection changes the way you view pipes. You begin to look beyond the shape, the grain, and see the hands that crafted it — the personality that informed its design. For me, that moment came in July of 2014, when Master Blaster Bruce Weaver visited the Smokingpipes HQ during a well-deserved vacation to Charleston.

I'd started as a copywriter only a few weeks prior, and while I'd smoked a pipe for years, I was still a novice. I'd met pipemaker Adam Davidson, our estate pipes manager, of course, but Adam keeps his pipemaking separate from his day job, and Bruce was my first free-range pipemaker. As he toured the office, questions flooded my mind. I wanted to know about his process, about his inspiration, about tiny little details like what he preferred to listen to when he worked. My inexperience couldn't even discern the important inquiries. But chatting later that day in Adam Davidson's workshop, Bruce seemed just as eager as I was; in fact, he seemed excited because I was so excited. Weaver wasn't just a talented pipemaker. He was one of the nicest people you could ever meet.

Bruce Weaver

Bruce Weaver passed away in his sleep on July 26th, 2019 at the age of 68. He was known all over the world for his laid-back, affable demeanor and unique, finely textured sandblasts. Bruce was able to work magic in the blasting cabinet, removing only the softer wood to maintain the symmetry and lines of the pipe. Though informed by the work of J.T. Cooke and Lee Von Erck, Weaver's pencil blasts were distinct in the sheer softness of their aesthetic.

From the onset, I didn't want to replicate what Mr. Cooke or Mr. Von Erck had developed early on; they were the pioneers in pencil blasting. I had spent quite a bit of time studying and experimenting with different styles and landed upon my style rather quickly. - Bruce Weaver (2014)

Sandblasting wasn't just something he was good at, either. It was his favorite part of the entire pipemaking process. He once told me that he'd often sit down at the cabinet at 10:00am and not look up until 4:00pm. The process was deeply personal for Bruce. Sitting at his well-lit cabinet, peering through the powerful magnifying glass attachment, he would examine the patterns and structure of a pipe's grain as if conversing with the briar, listening to its life's story. In his words, "One can see how the climate has changed between seasons. It's as if you know when the growing season had a lot of rain and when it was dry. It's much like looking at the rings on a fallen tree."

Bruce Weaver

Bruce was also an avid Dunhill collector and lover of classic shapes. At Adam's workshop he raved about this old Kaywoodie Prince he found at a yard sale, a find he seemed almost as excited to discuss as his own pipes. No one would have ever described Bruce as an elitist. As we sat there talking about his work, he wasn't smoking one of his own pipes. He was puffing on that trim little Kaywoodie, simply because he liked it.

Still, Bruce always took great pride in his work, especially the satisfaction his pipes brought his customers. "It's just the neatest feeling, it's a thrill," Bruce said on witnessing three men smoking his pipes at a pipe show. "I made that," he thought, "And they're enjoying it too." Just like hearing the excitement in my voice as I met my first pipemaker, Bruce appreciated seeing customers enjoying his art as much as he enjoyed creating it.

The Weaver family will host a visitation on Saturday, August 3, in Nashville, TN at Christ the King Catholic Church (3001 Belmont Blvd, Nashville TN). In lieu of flowers, they've asked for donations to the SebastianStrong Foundation, of which Bruce was a passionate supporter. If you need to contact the family, you can reach out to Kelsey Weaver, Keely Weaver or Austin Weaver — his three beloved children, who were his greatest pride and joy.

Bruce Weaver


    • John Fordham on August 1, 2019
    • The secret in Bruce Weavers' life and pipes was Bruce Weaver!I will miss Him, a lot!!!

    • Ron Miller on August 4, 2019
    • So sorry to hear. I had met Bruce before I had heard of him. We were at the folk art center outside of Asheville, I was sitting in a camping chair near my car, smoking a pipe before entering the center and Bruce came running to me saying he had to meet a fellow pipe smoker. He then told me he made pipes. His car was next to mine and he showed me some of his pipes. He said he wanted to create small pipes in the style of Dunhills. That was a long time ago.

    • Huub Hendrikx on August 4, 2019
    • Hello,
      I am shocked by this sad news.
      I bought it in the past two pipes of Bruce, and the contacts on purchases were great.
      He was a great person to get in touch with. Condolences to his family and friends.

      Rest in Peace

    • Chuck Stanion on August 7, 2019
    • Bruce was a friend. He was always seeking ways to improve his pipemaking and we had many discussions over the years. Bruce would usually be the first to call when a new issue of P&T magazine came out; he always wanted to congratulate us there and comment on how interesting he found some of the articles. He was the first to call when I moved to Smokingpipes, always offering encouragement and positive reinforcement.

      Most will primarily remember what a genuinely great guy Bruce was. He could offer constructive criticism without judgment, and he was fun to talk with anytime. He was always there, and it was comforting to know that. The world seems off balance without him in it.

      When Bruce and Todd Johnson collaborated on a P&T pipe of the year for the magazine, he would ship a few pipes at a time and call to discuss them. In one batch he sent a handful of wildly colored pieces, sandblasted with multiple rings of bright contrasting colors, and I said, what the hell, Bruce. We gotta sell these things. But he had already found purchasers for those particular pipes. He always knew what he was doing.

      His capacity for love was boundless. He loved his family, he loved his craft, and he loved the community of pipesmokers that had become so close. His interests and intelligence were endlessly interesting to observe, and his enthusiasm was always evident.

      When Bruce quit making pipes, it was tough on everyone. He made great quality smoking instruments that were efficient, beautiful, reasonably priced, and every single one an improvement over the previous. But his love for the Dunhill brand diverted him and he became fascinated by Dunhill lighter repair. I have a broken Dunhill lighter that I promised to send him; he was anxious to get it working for me. I never did get around to it and it remains in my desk drawer, a reminder that Bruce is gone. I believe I will let that lighter stay broken, and move it into my pipe cabinet for display. It's unfinished business, and will keep us connected. Like the pipes he crafted that I so enjoy, it will remind me of how jackpot-lucky I am to have known a man like Bruce Weaver.

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