What do Kai Nielsen, Jørgen Nielsen, Poul Ilsted, and Tom Eltang have in common? Well, young pipe carver Joao Reis studied various aspects of the art of pipe carving under all four Danish pipe masters. At the ripe "old" age of 27, you could almost consider Joao Reis one of the princes of pipe carving.
Joao Reis was born in Lisbon, Portugal on June 22 of 1978. As many pipe aficionados will tell you, there are very few, if any, pipe carvers resident in Portugal. So how did Mr. Reis and pipe carving join to make such a perfect bond? For one, woodworking was a passion that Joao obtained at a very early age. He started his career as a cabinet-maker at the age of fifteen. It was also about this time that Joao's love and fascination with pipe collecting began to materialize. He became a member of the Pipe Club of Portugal. From there, it was only a matter of time.
It was in 1998 that he first made a pipe for a friend of his at the Portugal Pipe Club and continued from there making pipes, although without a vast majority of tools of the pipemakers trade.
In 2003 he came to the World Cup in Slow Smoking in Barcelona, Spain. Here he displayed some of the innovative design work that he was soon destined to perfect. At the show he met and befriended Kai Nielsen, famed Danish pipe artisan. Soon thereafter, he came to Denmark where he stayed and studied pipe making under Kai and his brother, Jørgen Nielsen. He also studied pipemaking under a number of revered and highly respected artisans in Denmark such as Poul Ilsted and Tom Eltang.
In 2004, Joao's work first appeared at the Chicago Pipe Show where his meteoric talent was in full display. After word spread and Joao's skills continued to be refined under superior tutelage, it was only a matter of time before this artisan could be called one of the best young pipe carvers working today. Today, Joao carves about 150 pipes a year in just about any shape, freehand derivitave, or wholly unique creation. He also uses a number of inserts on his work as well as a variety of different finishes and different stains.