A fixture of the Danish pipe-making school, Hans "Former" Nielsen has been crafting pipes in various workshops and as an independent artisan for over fifty years, beginning when he was only 15. Like a great many of the older generation of Danish pipe makers, he studied the shapes and styles of pipes – inside and out — by repairing them in Poul Rasmussen's Copenhagen pipe shop. In 1962, he was hired by W.Ø. Larsen to work full-time as a pipe maker. Early on, Former showed his skills by replicating shapes that were in the catalog: as Tonni Nielsen pointed out, referring to other pipe makers at the factory, each man needed to produce W.Ø. Larsen shapes, not focus on one-off designs. In doing this, Former's skill blossomed, and he went on to manage components of the factory, including quality control and the training of new carvers. During this time he'd also built a workshop at home in order to experiment and develop shapes outside of the Larsen workshop, but soon was contracting under Emil and Jess Chonowitsch in order to keep up with demand they were receiving for high-grade Danish pipes for export (many of which went to Japan). As demand from Japan, and then Germany, grew, Former soon left the Larsen workshop to produce these pipes under his own name.