Personality: Handmade Smoking Pipe

By Rosli Mansor

Zulkarnain Mohd Saidin, who has 28 years of experience as a photographer for a local newspaper, decided on a career change recently.

The 52-year-old photojournalist ended his chosen profession in November last year while optimising his skill in crafting commercially-viable tobacco pipes.

He started making pipes in 2015 as a hobby to fill his free time. He drew his inspiration from his late father, Mohd Saidin Alang Gamat and in the process got hooked. He perfected his skill and had never looked back since.

Zulkarnain told Ipoh Echo that it was never too late to start something new although some may frown at the idea.

What mattered, he stressed, was passion and interest followed by hard work and perseverance.

“Pipe-making is similar to photography, as both are a form of art. In fact, my experience in the media industry has influenced my pipe-making.

“I didn’t have much time for myself in the past but now with the available time, I searched for a suitable activity to satisfy my creative needs,” he shared.

Without any specific knowledge in the making of smoking pipes, his first attempt, using the ubiquitous kayu jering, was a success.

He acquired knowledge and guidance of experts and improvised from books and the internet.

“Although it takes up to three days to craft one pipe, it’s a form of motivation for me to continue. Now, I can make a pipe in just a day,” he said.

He uses high quality wood such as kayu arang bunga (diospyrosspp), kayu penawar hitam (agarwood), kayu kemuning emas (murraya paniculata) and kayu tunjuk langit (mahogany).

The shape and size of the pipe are tailored to his client’s request. The components, such as the chamber, shank and filter, have to be done accurately to enable even burning. The right amount of tobacco burnt will give satisfaction to the smoker.

“A reasonably-crafted pipe can fetch RM120 a piece. The most expensive pipe I’ve sold is worth RM650.

“It’s not the monetary value that I am after but the appreciation of my creation is what matters to me,” he said.

To date, he has over 100 smoking pipes in his collection. He has produced over 500 pipes under his own brand name, ZK9.

Readers keen in owning Zulkarnain’s masterpieces, can contact him directly at 014 603 3066.

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