From Jack's website:
Greetings! I'm Jack Howell -- let's keep this in the first person -- and I've been making things ever since my Dad gave me a file and a pile of cedar shakes and let me make, well, sawdust, mostly. But it wasn't too long after that when he gave me my first Scout knife, with which I made, well, shavings, mostly, and bloodstains of various sizes. However, I've made lots of other things since, including approximately 10,000 clarinet reeds while living in Greeley CO, Albuquerque, NM, Wellington, NZ, and now Pittsburgh, PA. While I make my living primarily as a clarinetist, I carry on making things. Since music is so ephemeral, it's nice to have things in my life that, once done, stay done. This web page is dedicated to my pipes.
Things changed pretty rapidly when I visited Paolo Becker in Rome this past January, and got a quick rundown on how he did a number of things, and also a sizable dose of inspiration. I decided to invest in a bag of briar, and set myself the goal of taking a dozen pipes to the 2004 Chicago show. That goal turned out to be about right for the intervening four months, considering the time it took to set up a reliable boring procedure, to get going with sandblasting, to raise the cash for briar —— you name it, it took at least a week. Nevertheless, I established the machinery and methods necessary to make a salable pipe — to drill perfectly centered holes, to buff to commercial standards, to create handcut stems that didn't take a day apiece — and cultivated a more critical eye for grain, lines and flaws.
I made it to Chicago, and was immediately overwhelmed not just by the number of pipes, but by the number of pipes I wished I had made. Generously invited to share table space by Greg Pease, I found my small spread of pipes flanked by Peter Heeschen, and, down from him, Kent Rasmussen. Talk about jumping into the deep end. Both makers turned out to be friendly and generous with their advice and information, as did Bjorn Thurman, Tom Eltang, Rainier Barbi, Todd Johnson, and a bunch of others. I find myself tremendously influenced by all of them, with a long list of techniques to try, lines to shoot for. Which brings us, more or less, to the present.
My present consists of parenting three young girls, pursuing a career that includes playing the clarinet in a handful of orchestras and chamber groups and teaching at Duquesne University, and making pipes. One never knows what fortune will bring, but my goal is to complete at least 50 pipes this coming year, and for each one to be better in some way than the one before.