I've been a pipe smoker for years, and have quite a range of pipes. I have pipes made from briar, calabashes, meerschaum, corncob, clay, and even one catlinite pipe.
I've recently become interested in how clay pipes were made. I just bought a couple that were made in moulds taken from English Civil War pipes, and since I have an interest in how things were made pre-Industrial Revolution, I set out to find out how it was done.
I would like to try my hand at it, though not having moulds I would either have to make moulds myself or sculpt the pipes by hand. I know that can be done, because I've seen some excellent examples here: www.pipemakersforum.com/forum/… particularly like the second and fifth in the first picture.)
Making a mould may only be practical if I'm going to make a lot of the same pipe. I find the prospect of casting a two-piece mould much less daunting than working with the clay. The little I've found all talk about drying times between stages, and I've seen the racks that the pipes are supposed to dry in before trimming and firing, but I'd be concerned about the bowls deforming. Of course, not having worked with clay before, I'm not entirely sure how it behaves.
I need to find some books on working with clay. Nothing beats working with a material, making mistakes and finding what works, but since practical application is out for the moment, I'll just keep reading and learning from books. Maybe there's a place around that teaches pottery that I could look into.
It's rather frustrating, can't get in a forge and can't explore new crafts in the workshop. I'm glad I'm doing what I'm doing, but some days I really wish I could get back to my shop.