News from the Pipemaking Workshop with the Funk.
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Thursday, December 29, 2005

Je suis malade

First, I must pass along my apologies for not updating the blogs more this week. Right now I am typing this with a 104 degree fever, and am pretty dizzy and loopy, so I will probably be absent for at least a couple more days (Doctor visit is tomorrow). In the meantime, since several people expressed interest in the Gerard Prungnaud clays discussed in the David Field video, here is a pic of a very nicely elegant one.

Tuesday, December 27, 2005

PipeCast, with David Field and Trever Talbert

I have finally finished the editing and production work on our little video interview with David Field. It is 45 minutes long (I hope not 45 minutes too long..) and mostly what we do is chat about pipes, the world of pipe collecting today, the process of making pipes, and the future of pipes as a business. The idea was to make the sort of informal chat that one might see at a pipe show, but make it available by video to those folks who don't have the proximity or leisure time to attend pipe shows. It may very well be boring, so be warned! We didn't have a mic, so the sound quality is from the video camera's mic - not the best, in other words (Be prepared to fiddle with your volume a lot). If anyone enjoys this, I would eventually like to make more (assuming there is demand) and gradually make them a bit more professional in production... but, as always, that is time and money into the future. My vague model is the tech talks at TWITCast, and what I would really like to do is to link up pipe professionals from around the world via webcams and Skype, and assemble an ongoing series of entertaining pipe chats. Unfortunately, I know that no one is going to bankroll this project, so it will likely remain just a daydream. At best, I expect to make the occasional mildly-entertaining production like this one, when I have the free time to do them.

Once again, I am distributing the larger video via BitTorrent. For those unfamiliar with BitTorrent, it enables fast file-sharing that is easier on bandwidth than direct download from a server - One first downloads the torrent file (a small info file) and opens it in a BitTorrent program, which monitors the availability of the file on the net and downloads from every source available until the download is complete. Today is the first day of seeding, so expect downloads to be slow at first, but gradually increase in speed as more seeders enter the picture. For info and FAQs on BitTorrent, try Demonoid and the Official BitTorrent page. This video is 715 megs in size, and 45 minutes long. I had to keep the resolution at half-screen just to keep the size that small! Download the torrent file HERE

Once again, I have also made a smaller version for the bandwidth-impaired. The small file is in RealPlayer format and weighs in at 33 megs. The quality is about what one would expect from a 45 minute video compressed into 33 megs of space - tiny, blurry video - but as the main point of the file is the audio chat, perhaps it will serve (Just be prepared to turn your speakers up and listen to a good amount of hiss). Download the Real file HERE

Monday, December 26, 2005

Working, working

Today's update is just a quick little snapshot I took from our video interview with David Field. This is my current big blog project, and I will be posting a BitTorrent link within the next couple of days if I can manage it. It should make a nice little after-Christmas surpise!

Other than this, not much to say today - the big post is over on our American Pipemaker in Brittany blog.

Friday, December 16, 2005

Closing for Christmas (Mostly)

Today's pic is Talbert Yule Pipe #10 from the 1999 set - My personal favorite of the bunch. The bands on these were a good bit of work. I bought solid brass rod and cut the sections, then drilled and turned them on our metal lathe to create the designs, which were then decorated by hand-carving.

Today will be 100% housecleaning and tidying. We are closing the business for vacation from now until the 27th - During that time, I won't be answering business emails unless they are urgent for some reason. Since we only have one pipe in stock right now, I doubt I will have reason to get much email, but we will still ship if somebody buys our last pipe. Other than that, it is relaxation time!

I do not plan to update this pipe picture blog while we are vacationing. I will, however, have a special treat when we return - the 45 minute pipe video chat with David Field. I've copied the video to the hard drive now and still need to cut and edit it and add titles, which I plan to do after our vacation time, so I should have it ready to post between the 27th and the start of January.

Monday, December 12, 2005

The Bishop

While we race around madly cleaning and tidying, here is something else from the archives. Since "More archive pics" was one of the poll requests, I'll be posting some older stuff until I can finish the David Field video. This particular pipe is from either 98 or 99, I can't remember, and is (as far as I know) still in the collection of Jeff Folloder. The shank fitting is a bit of an optical illusion - the briar shank is one solid piece, but I turned the shank and stem together to make it resemble some sort of military-mount fitting. I really liked this shape, and probably should do another like it someday.

BTW, the pipe drilling torrent downloads seem to have run their course, with 55 finished downloads of the 240 meg file (A whopping 13200 megs of transfer!). There hasn't been anyone leeching in a couple of days so I've stopped seeding. This should be certain to prompt a load of requests for re-seeds from people who missed it the first time ;)

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Camera Dancing, and Poll Finals

I mentioned in yesterday's entry that we had a challenging time trying to get the camera's timer to work (We eventually suffered the humiliation of having to dig out the manual). Today's pic (Click for the full-size version) is a compilation of some of my attempts to get the thing to work... and this is with the various shots of my feet or the ceiling edited out.

In other news, there are some new pipes on the site for the first time in quite a while. This will probably be the last catalog update until late december or, more likely, early January, because we plan to take off a week for vacation while my parents are here. For those who are interested in such stuff, the new Talbert Briar (the Seahorse, seen in the "Making of" video) can be seen here, and there is also a new morta and a very nice new Ligne Bretagne.

I am closing down the little poll I have been running for the past week. It has been useful and educational - thanks to everyone who voted! With 51% of the vote, the biggest request was for more videos, and I hope to have a lot more fun stuff coming in the future. The next biggest vote, at 27%, was for no changes at all... surely a good sign! The distant third and fourth requests, tied at 7% each, were for more older archive photos (No problem!) and for more interactivity, such as a discussion forum. I've voiced my doubts about the viability and usefulness of a forum before, but I am not ruling it out. While David Field was here, we discussed a project that would virtually demand a dedicated forum, so I expect something to come crawling out of the woodwork sometime in the coming year.

Saturday, December 10, 2005

RD Field

Hectic, hectic few days recently. We had a surprise visit from David Field and his wife, who are vacationing in Europe. Virtually everyone in the pipe biz knows David, and he is a fine fellow. What folks will really enjoy is that, after we all went out to dinner and stuffed ourselves with crepes, we came back here for a little tobacco and wine, and filmed our first "pipe video podcast" (or vidcast, really) - an informal, top-of-our-heads question-and-answer session between Davd and myself on many subjects pipe-ish. I'll be posting the video here as soon as I have time to edit and assemble it, though there is no telling when that may be with my parents arriving from the US next weekend. In the meantime, here is a hard-fought (We struggled with the camera timer for a good ten minutes) group shot from last night.
Emily asked the girl to cut her hair short when she visited the salon yesterday, and got her request - returning home somewhat shocked and sporting a buzz cut on par with 80's Annie Lennox.

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

Torrent Fun

Well, I said it was an experiment... Apparently that first try was a trackerless torrent. I have re-made the torrent file, this time using as the tracker, so let's see if this works a little better. Download the new torrent file HERE

Big Video Experiment

I'm going to try an experiment now, suggested by a helpful fellow in FumeursdePipe, and see if I can distribute the big video file via BitTorrent. This is the first time I have ever tried to make a torrent file for something to upload, so please be patient if it doesn't work - and also, I can't guess how many people may try to download this file so I don't know how much speed we'll actually get. As with all torrent files, please leave your torrent window or program open as long as you can once the download has completed, because your complete file will function as a seed to all the other folks who haven't finished the download yet. If you're not familiar with BitTorrent, please do a little Googling for info (Translation - PLEASE don't bug me with inquiries wanting to know what it is, where to get it, how to install it, etc). My personal favorite torrent client is ABC - "yet Another BitTorrent Client", which offers the easy ability to manage multiple downloads, limit bandwidth usage, etc.

Download my torrent file for the full-size pipe drilling video HERE

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Drilling a Talbert Briar

I have finally finished assembling the pipe drilling video. It covers, from start to the end of drilling, the methods I use to shape and drill Talbert Briars. I also, on occasion, drill using my lathe or drill press, but the majority of my drilling is done as it shows in the video (and anyway, lathe and drill press drilling are well-known and dull subjects for videos). I hope it will be interesting!

The video is 16 minutes long and can be downloaded in a 114 meg AVI file here or, for those with slower connections, in a 15 meg RealPlayer file here. Even the bigger file is a half-size video - I found that encoding a full-size 640x480 AVI produced video files of at least 250 meg or more, and I simply don't have the bandwidth to handle lots of people downloading a 250 meg file. However, if anyone has a site and the bandwidth to spare, I would be happy to host it elsewhere - just get in touch by email.

(As an aside, I really shouldn't have to post this but I know I'd better - Yes, it would be an imposition to write the file to CDs and mail out discs. I know that otherwise I'll get an email box full of letters all starting with, "Hi, I'm Joe Pipemaker. I enjoy your blog and really don't want to impose, but could you put that big video file on a disc and mail it to me?" What Joe Pipemaker doesn't realize is that there are thirty-four other amateur pipemakers all writing me with the same thing! So, not to be rude, but no. I do hope that someone will provide the free bandwidth for hosting the big file and it will be a moot issue anyway.)

The pipe in the video is the Seahorse shape previously previewed. It isn't for sale yet - it is one of a set that I'm doing for a collector's request, and after he's picked his favorite, I'll post the rest to the site for sale. I'm fond of the shape - like the first couple of Ibex designs I did, it looks a bit odd from this or that angle, but I intend to make many more like this and refine the design as I go.

The poll voting has slowed, but I will let it run for another few days at least. At the moment, 51% of the votes are for more videos, so today's post should make people happy! The second choice, at 28%, is for no change at all - encouraging, to say the least. 10% voted for more interactivity, such as a discussion forum. I'm not sure about this - I know one could be integrated into the blog via a side menu, but I don't really know what purpose it would serve, since there are already so many pipe-related messageboards that the community has fractured into a hundred splinters. The Pipemakers Forum would seem to cover everything related to pipemaking already, so I'm not sure what a forum would be about. Also, for those who did not realize it, the blog itself functions as a messageboard - just click the "Comments" link below to leave your feedback about anything that is posted. Others can see your messages and respond, and I try to answer all the ones I can. If anyone has other ideas of what interactivity I could offer, please get in touch!

Friday, December 02, 2005

Video Soon

There probably won't be any updates for the next couple of days while I try to finish the Seahorse and get the other Rameses shapes done. With luck, the next blog posting will be a "Making Of" video for the above pipe. We shot a lot of footage yesterday through the whole process of roughing it, getting the shape, marking the drilling lines, and doing the whole drilling process. In the meantime, here is another little pic of the Seahorse, this time marked with all of its lines of drilling.

Thursday, December 01, 2005


Today's pic is a work in progress photo, taken just a moment ago, of something that started life as a special order. I had a request from a regular collector for a version of the Bo Nordh "Ramses" shape, so as usual I picked out a selection of blocks and set to work on my own variation of the design. I am not the guy to do straight copies of other people's work - for one thing, I think it's distasteful to copy someone else exactly, and for another, it just isn't fun. Spending all my time looking back and forth to a set of photos and measurements is too annoying to do on a pipemaker's salary, so I let my imagination have full rein. This pipe, however, went considerably further afield than usual! I knew the block wasn't suited to a Rameses but it still looked interesting, so I chose to see what I could make with it... The building blocks of the original design are still there, but the end result is so different that I'm giving it a name of its own - "Seahorse". We've been making some video footage of the creation of this pipe, and I hope to either post one complete video or post several in installments, assuming that the pipe doesn't have to be discarded at some point.