Pipe by TSUGE factory – To be a craftsman, not to be an artist


Pipe making you can learn only in Japan


There is a big difference between to be a pupil of an artist and to be a trainee of skill workers group. I thought that Marlene Micke must have become a pupil of Kazuhiro Fukuda, but it was not true. According to Yo Uekusa, “Once you are taught by some artist, you could be pulled to the direction of such artist. You acquire your master’s habit and can’t get rid of it.”


Marlene Micke is grinding the pipe surface using a belt sander.


The tobacco pipes made by famous artists can be sold easily under the impact of artist’s name. Even if the work contains inconsistencies in its details, consumers accept them as the originality of the artist, by which they forgive distortions or flaws of the work, or even difficulty in usage. They wrap them with the word artist’s originality. Quite a few pipe smokers are willing to conquer the difficulties when they use those pipes since they can take it as the prestigious tasks given by artists. The unintelligibility of celebrated artist can turns to the welcoming challenge for fans who appreciate his/her work. You can see the similar relationships between artists and fans in music, fine/modern arts, films, and novels.


Marlene Micke receives on-the-job instruction from Kazuhiro Fukuda.


“TSUGE Factory consists of professional skill workers group. Each member can surely enhance his/her techniques being buffeted in artisan’s world. Skill workers don’t overlook any small mistakes in their works and modify the work to be a finished product easy to use.” Yo Uekusa says, “And Marlene Micke should witness it with her own eyes. It’s going to be a rare opportunity and wonderful experience for her.” Now Marlene can steal various working process or techniques from each skilled worker.


It’s not easy to provide a beautiful curve with comfortable fitting to smoker’s hand.


A pipe is created based on the idea what the pipe is, being supported by techniques and sensuousness, in which inclining to master’s work or taking over his works doesn’t make any sense. By pursuing this way, a pipe can be an art but a tool far more improving its quality. If Marlene shows her artistic talent in potential growing more in future on the basis of consolidated techniques, she would produce the work exceeding her father’s works. As a matter of fact, she has been tossed about by the wave of the artisans at TSUGE Factory. She is sometimes confused and asks Yo the questions like, “Everyone advise me the different ways. What should I do?” What she should pick up or throw away, how she establishes her own thought in such puzzled world, or she may be acquiring the totally different methods—–Marlene Micke, a pipe-making artist, is in the middle of a struggle at the workshop in Japan.


Kazuhiro Fukuda is in his 80’s with Marlene Micke in her 20’s.


Marlene was grinding the pipe in her hand with sand paper. I asked, “It looks pretty. Is it your work?”
“No, it’s a product from TSUGE Factory.”
“So where is your work?”
“Not yet.”
She said that she hasn’t produced her own work yet.


In May 2017, she is going to exhibit her own work for the first time, as a pipe-making artist at Chicago Pipe Show in U.S. What kind of flower would Marlene produce after learning from Japanese artisans? Still not yet… Nobody knows the flower she is going to present to world audience.


Interviewer & Author:Akitoshi Urayama
Photographer:Soudou Kawaguchi



Inquiry:General Incorporated Foundation of Employment Advance Research Center
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