Martin Vollmer  and Anders Nilsson 




V&N - Pipes verfügbar/















































Anders was born in 1964 and studied to become a chemistry engineer. For 18 years he worked at the sugar refinery in Arlöv, just outside Malmö, most of the time at the quality control laboratory. Due to cut-backs at the workplace, he ended his employment there in the autumn of 2003, to try to make a living as a self-employed pipemaker. Martin was born in 1969 and studied for many years at the theology department of the university of Lund. Finally he decided to change direction in his life to become a pipemaker instead of a clergyman. None of us have worked professionally in any craft, except that Martin for about a year and a half worked as work-leader at the therapy workshop in the Malmö prison. We are half-brothers. 

Though we have never studied or professionally worked in any craft, we have always spent a great deal of our spare time making and doing things with our hands. Martin briefly studied with a watchmaker friend of the family, and so gained some insight into restoring old watches; during his time in the prison workshop he mainly worked with leather crafts. Anders started building airplane models at an early age; a few years ago he attended an evening class about restoration of antique furniture; and on his own he tried his hand at making jewellery from silver. In parallell with making pipes, we have in later years also collected and restored antique fountain pens.

Our workshop is located in the basement of the building where our father and Martin's mother live. It is just one room, something like 20-25 square meters, so space is at a premium! Somehow we have managed to fill it with three lathes, four grinding/polishing motors, a blasting cabinet with compressor, a bandsaw, a drill-press and lots and lots of other small things.

Anders bought his first pipe in 1980, at the age of sixteen. Martin followed suit a few years later as he came of age. Over the years Martin built quite a nice collection of pipes, including examples by Sixten Ivarsson, Björn Bengtsson and Bo Nordh. The pipes by these three makers provided quite an inspiration when we decided to make pipes ourselves: We studied them carefully to find out what makes them such great pipes, and set the goal to make pipes with the same precision and attention to detail. We started making pipes for ourselves and friends and family about four or five years ago. Gradually we acquired the tools and equipment we needed. It is a matter of pride to us that we have made or converted most of the equipment to suit our needs. The only things we have had to have custom-manufactured for us are the stamps for the pipes and the silverwork. Our philosophy in pipemaking is two-fold. First and most important: All pipes that leave our workshop must be as technically perfect as we can manage. All drillings must be spot-on; mouthpieces must fit seamlessly; the finish must be impeccable, and so on. Also the pipes must be manufactured in a way that gives the best possible smoking characteristics. Secondly: We have to like the pipes ourselves! Other pipemakers may be more creative or adventurous when it comes to pipe shapes, but we prefer making the classical shapes, or derivatives thereof. We don't think we could ever be good at making pipe shapes we don't enjoy ourselves, and even if we could, it wouldn't feel honest... The pipes that influence us the most are the classical "London Made" pipes of the early 20th century, by makers such as Comoy, Barling and Loewe. We spend quite a lot of time studying such pipes, to try and get an idea of what makes them look so "right" to us; to acquire a "feel" for the shapes. Certainly, it is fun to now and again make freehand shapes and let the grain of the briar decide the shape, but our highest goal is to be able to make the perfectly proportioned billiard.

We used briar from a number of locations, most notably Morrocoan briar bought from Tom Eltang and briar from Mimmo at RomeoBriar. As for decorative materials we have been using boxwood, olive wood and stabilized masur birch. We have also used "reconstituted gemstone": Fragments of stone are ground and mixed with acrylic to give a semi-synthetic material that retains the looks and some of the physical characteristics of the stone - the weight and feeling cool to the touch.

The precious material we prefer to use, however, is of course sterling silver. We do all silverwork ourselves and have registered the maker's mark "VNP". While we haven't really kept account, we estimate that we have made a total of circa 70-80 pipes so far.

Sometimes a pipe is made by one of us from start to finish, but most of the time they are a shared product. The only thing that is certain is that all sandblasting and rustication is made by Martin. He is also the one who stamps the finished pipes.

We still don't know if we will be able to make a living at pipemaking, but it certainly looks promising. All the feedback and reviews we have received so far has been very flattering, and slowly sales seems to be taking off... One thing that works to our advantage is that neither of us enjoy any luxurious lifestyles, so we can get along at a rather low income. There is more than money to life... Sixten Ivarsson himself said something like: "You don't make much money as a pipemaker, but you still can consider yourself rich"! 

A slightly revisted version basing on some  emails by Martin and Anders from Feb. 2005, with permission


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