My name is Constantinos Zissis. Ι live in Corfu, the Homeric Land of the Phaecians, a lush green island in Northwestern Greece, a crossroads and melting pot of peoples and cultures, with a rich history.
My relationship with wood started very early, when, as a child, fascinated by the environment and the smells, I frequented the workshop of an old carpenter who gave me pieces of wood with which I invented and constructed various toys, but mainly small boats: I always recall the pure joy I felt when they managed to float and travel freely in the sea, that I have always considered as my “great mother”.
In my childhood also lie the roots of my love for drawing and painting, which I was lucky to have the chance to cultivate studying in the public Art School of Corfu. So, although I finally studied Engineering at the Polytechnic School of Athens, my love for wood, design, and the sea eventually led me to become a professional marine carpenter.
The construction of my first pipe came about almost spontaneously, on the occasion of the carving of a strange ladle made of arbor wood. When I showed it to my partner, she said “It looks like a pipe” and pretended to smoke it. In the small box of my memories then lit a pipe that I had given as a present to my father when I was a teenager and the experience of her secret smoking. I spent the next day on my workshop making a similar one from a piece of olive wood. And so, from an impulse, a great journey began.
I am self-taught. I like to experiment with various shapes and materials. The woods that bring my pipes to life are the Greek briar and the Corfiot olive wood, and I make all the tools for their construction myself. Both philosophically and practically, I am on the side of functionalism, which helps me in all the steps of creation, so that I finally manage to turn the pieces of wood into what I have imagined.
The little boat drawing with which I stamp my pipes is the “rudderless ship”, the ship of the Phaeacians, the mythical ancient inhabitants of Corfu, and today’s symbol of the city. It was with such a ship, without a helm, or a captain, that read the minds of the people and charted its own path to the destination, that the Phaeacians transported Odysseus, the great Greek Homeric hero, to his homeland, Ithaca.
My own rudderless ship is the drawing. In a similar way, as if it could read my thoughts, it helps me to express them on paper and draw the path to my final destination. To me, every pipe I make is a new Ithaca, and the greatest joy always lies in the journey.
Ag. Andreas, Kyra Chrysikou