Ruff Works Pipe Tampers: Accidental Art
A fresh take on pipe tampers
Rik Ruff started smoking a tobacco pipe just 12 months ago.
He is retired from the United States Air Force, and now working as a civilian contractor. He was a long-time cigarette smoker and enjoyed the transition to tobacco pipes easily. He says every time he lights a bowl he's reminded of family memories from his childhood.
Ruff quickly engaged with the vibrant smoking community on Instagram, where the inspiration first began to kindle another sort of fire--a long dormant artistic flair.
From sketches to carving
Rik Ruff has been an artist most of his life. His varied interests waxed and waned over the years, from drawing to motorcycles. When he began engaging with tobacco pipes culture online he found himself inspired to draw, something he hadn't done in years. His first forays into the maker side of pipe culture were as a sketch artist. He drew sketches based on Instagram images of smokers with their pipes. Sometimes posting the picture, often passing it on to the subject. In this way, he grew a following online before he ever began making tobacco pipe accessories.
When his brother showed up with deer antlers last Christmas inspiration struck and Rik began making custom tampers
with antlers and bamboo. Soon he would acquire the necessary tools and begin working with various woods. Just as he did with his sketches, Ruff Works began with giving away tampers to other tobacco pipe smokers in the community.
Before he ever sold a piece, Ruff had given away a number of his creations and built up a supply--a smart business move for someone who considers himself more an artist than a business man.
Most evenings, Ruff can be found at his workbench in the garage, tinkering with new materials and carving increasingly intricate pipe tampers. Often you’ll find him with a poker or billiard in hand, smoking his favorite Esoterica Penzance at his bench.
Rik says he’s acquiring new tools all the time, which allow him to create a vast array of styles--from pipe tampers that are cigar replicas to severed fingers. We can’t help but be excited to see what he comes up with next--a foray into pipe stands perhaps? Hmmm…
Consider his tampers limited edition
When talking to Ruff, he will continually remind you that making custom tobacco pipe tampers is a hobby, not a business for him. He says, “Consider my work extremely limited edition, because if I stop loving it, I won’t do it anymore.”
From one fan, I think I can express the sentiment of the community when I saw, we hope you continue to love it Rik!