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post #1 of 21 Old 01-25-2015, 05:21 PM Thread Starter
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My First Homemade Clay Pipe

I found some nice Georgia Clay near the Jacks River, by where I live, and thought I might try my hand at clay pipe-making. This was my first attempt. I shaped it, completely by hand (no mold), and air-dryed it (in the oven at 190 degrees F for 1-hour.) It came out way better than I thought it would. Including drying, it took about 1 hour and 20 minutes from start to finish (not counting the time to collect and process the clay....). I smoked some Mazetec tobacco from P & C in it, and it smokes wonderfully. Nice and cool with no added flavors.

If you want to see how it smokes, I'll post the link to the YouTube video, as soon as it is through processing. I plan on shooting a how-to for YouTube shortly.

A Country Boy Can Survive.......









[video=youtube;ArrtaUm_JOI]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ArrtaUm_JOI&feature=youtu.be[/video]
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post #2 of 21 Old 01-25-2015, 05:28 PM
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Re: My First Homemade Clay Pipe

Very nice, what did you use to help shape the bowl and stem?
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post #3 of 21 Old 01-25-2015, 05:43 PM
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Re: My First Homemade Clay Pipe

Would love to see the video bro!
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post #4 of 21 Old 01-25-2015, 06:03 PM
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Re: My First Homemade Clay Pipe

That is freakin awesome!
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post #5 of 21 Old 01-25-2015, 06:28 PM
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Re: My First Homemade Clay Pipe

Sweet!!!!!!!! Very cool that you made it out of earth that you dug up.

Life's too short to smoke bad cigars.
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post #6 of 21 Old 01-25-2015, 06:29 PM
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Re: My First Homemade Clay Pipe

Pretty spiffy.
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post #7 of 21 Old 01-25-2015, 06:48 PM
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Re: My First Homemade Clay Pipe

Very cool.
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post #8 of 21 Old 01-25-2015, 06:58 PM Thread Starter
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Re: My First Homemade Clay Pipe

To make the bowl, I just rolled up a ball of clay, and used the end of a wooden dowel to make the starter hole. Then I used my finger to thin the walls, and make it the size I wanted. This also shapes the bowl. Then I used a smaller dowel to make the hole for the stem, near the bottom. Then I used my fingers to extrude a small button at the bottom to hold the pipe with if it gets hot.

To make the stem, I made a rope of clay, then ran a section of wire coat hanger down the center, and formed the stem around it. I molded the end of the stem to the hole in the bowl that I made for it, and smoothed the joint out.

I set the whole thing on some parchment paper on a cookie sheet and let it air dry for about 10 minutes to set, then I carefully eased out the wire from the stem. Then I gently curved the stem to where I wanted it, made a few final adjustments, and put it in the oven at 200 degrees for 1-hour, turning it every 8 minutes or so, to dry evenly. The clay turns a beautiful bone-greysh white when it is dry. I let it cool, then gave it a test smoke. They smoke cool, with no added flavor at all. I got all of the nuances from the tobacco, even more than with a Missouri Meerschaum.
That's really all there is to it.

For the clay, I filled a bucket with about 15 pounds of the river clay and brought it home. Then, I got it real soupy by adding lots of water, and poured it through a wire strainer to remove rocks, debris, unwanted little animals (I got several crawfish and aquatic insect larvae in this batch...), then I took another bucket to help me remove impurities. I took a large 1-gallon glass jar (the one I make sauerkraut in...) and filled it halfway with clay., then topped fit off with water and stirred the clay up real good until it was liquid. Then I let it settle for 30 minutes. The clay is heavier than the impurities, and sinks to the bottom. You can see the layers. Then, I carefully poured the water off until the clay started moving towards the jar lip, and I stopped. I repeated this process 3 more times, until there was no more stratification, and all I had was pure grey clay. I repeated this for the rest of the clay, and the 15 pounds I brought home yielded around 9-1/2 pounds of pure creamy grey clay. I placed the whole batch in a large cotton cloth tow-sack, hung it from a tree, and let the clay drain for around 4 hours. That made the clay the perfect consoistency. You could also use commercial air-dry clay (from Hobby Lobby, or wherever), because I'm sure it's the same thing....river mud.


I've made 4 more pipes and all of them are outstanding. One of them, I made a snake head, put the bowl in the rear portion of the head, behind the eyes, and instead of running the wire through the stem, I make a long clay rope, and wrapped it around the wire so it looks like coils. It looks awesome, but my wife (who is an artist) won't let me show it to anyone until she paints more details on it. I also made one in the style of a Peace Pipe. I have coated it with tung oil to see if it seals it. I'll know something shortly. I also knocked out a few smaller 'Cutty"-style pipes.

I made a Church Warden style as well, but these are the most difficult, because the stem is so long and thin. You have to be real careful and gentle. But, on the good side, if you mess up, you can just wad it up, add some more water, and start over. Even if you break one after it's finished and dried (I dropped one tripping over the cat....), you can crumble the pieces, put them in the food processor and turn them into powder, add a little water, and it's clay again.....

And everything cleans up easily with water.

I doesn't take much clay to make a pipe........

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Originally Posted by DocBone View Post
Very nice, what did you use to help shape the bowl and stem?
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post #9 of 21 Old 01-25-2015, 07:11 PM Thread Starter
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Re: My First Homemade Clay Pipe

It's processing on YouTube right now. I am going to make a step-by-step video soon. My wife doesn't want me to, because she says I should be selling them on EBay, or something like that......

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Would love to see the video bro!
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post #10 of 21 Old 01-25-2015, 08:02 PM
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Re: My First Homemade Clay Pipe

Wait...so you don't fire the pipes? Just dried?
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