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Sunday, February 26, 2006

A View of the Workshop

I didn't have any grand ideas for a blog post today, so I thought I would simply post a few photos from our workshop for a tiny window into how we work. First, however, I should mention that I've just posted two new Talbert Briars to the website - one is a smooth-finish unstained freehand, and the other is a chubby, unstained sandblast. These are the last pipes to post at the old 2005 prices - I'll be applying inflationary price increases across the catalogs shortly. This will be the first price change in over two years, so it's a bit overdue. Fortunately for US buyers, the euro has declined a bit against the dollar and I doubt they will see any difference - If anything, the pipes are probably getting cheaper! Oh, and there is still one Morta Bettafish remaining after the last two mass Betta-postings, so have a look!

Speaking of morta, that is what Emily is rough-shaping in the photo above. Look closely and one can see two morta Prince shapes in progress. We usually have several projects underway at once - at the moment, I am also trying to finish another Talbert Briar and complete our last-ever run of Ligne Bretagne "fat dwarf" pipes. Here is another picture from the shop:


Shown above are some examples of the wooden, antique sanding and buffing spindles I use. On the left is a typical modern metal one, but the two to the right are my favorites - handmade wooden spindles that probably date to the early 20th century, all of which seem to be hand-turned in decorative styles and some even carry maker's marks. Compared to the utilitarian steel spindles, they are virtual 'objets d'art', and I have to admit that (Silly though it may sound) there is a certain romance about working daily with such tools. Many more of them can be seen in this photo:


For our first year, these things were everywhere because we had no good place to store them when not in use... and of course, they were always in use. No sooner would we tuck them away somewhere than they were back out, scattered around the work tables being swapped on and off of our buffing motors. Finally, when we revamped our shop to better accomodate two people, we rigged up this simple-but-handy rack to store them in. Now, either of us can simply turn, select the wheel we want, and easily swap and replace the one we're using. Note that most of them are the old wooden ones, fitted with threaded wooden spindles to hold their buffing wheels or sanding discs in place, and there are only a few of the new metal ones among them. I debate about this some times, thinking I ought to buy more steel ones and retire the antique models for storage or posterity, but at the same time, they were made to be used and it would seem a shame to polish them up and stick them on a shelf somewhere just so someone could look curiously at them fifty years from now. Assuming, of course, that anyone even remembers pipemaking fifty years from now...