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Saturday, April 08, 2006

Moebius Bolus, or, Things to Come

During the years I was making the Halloween pipes, I was occasionally overheard to say that if I had my choice, I would simply make Halloween pipes all year and drop the conventional shape work altogether, but the problem was the financial obstacle - If one is going to sell one's entire yearly production in October, one has to be able to pay bills for the year preceeding this somehow. I don't actually think I'd abandon all classical shapes, as they are fun to make in limited doses, but I have begun edging closer to this dream in 2006, starting with such modest creations as the new Moebius Bolus shape pictured here.

This pipe is now posted for sale, along with another sandblast, on our Sandblasts page. Also there is the re-listed virgin-finish Bulldog #1 - The sale on this pipe fell through so I have reposted it to the catalog.

As can be seen in the preview pic above, the Moebius is the first in a series. I intend to make more of this shape, varying the design from pipe to pipe and shuffling details around as I work with it. Actually, one of the unfinished pipes was made entirely by Emily. I was looking for a shape idea that would be creative and identifiably "me" while also being repeatable in a way that some of the Halloween pipes simply weren't, and the idea for this design sprang from one of my personal favorite Halloween pipes, the Dhole. I did a page of sketches or variations on the idea, and kept coming back to intersections in space - I wanted a combination, even a synthesis, of the wriggling organic design of the Dhole and various "worms" and "snails" I'd made in the past, coupled with an Escher-esque overlaying of objects in space. There's probably a subtle astrological self-commentary there, too, of my Scorpio nature - the sign that will sting itself to death if it can't find something else to grapple with. I was keen to have portions of the design intersect in a recursive way, while trying to steer far clear of the Eltang-esque "bamboo rod that passes through the bowl and out the front side" look (And I do not mean this in any way to sound critical of Tom's pipes, because they are awesome - I just didn't want to get folded into that "genre") Of course, at the end of the day it's just a cute little curly pipe...

In years past, I would have had this idea and cursed because it was an obviously perfect Halloween pipe, but that meant that I had to either A) do the work now and not get paid for six months, or B) put the idea on hold until September and deal with it getting stale in the process. Ideas are like milk - they have a definite expiration date, after which the initial enthusiasm is gone and the project becomes just so much work, usually to the detriment of the finished result. Fortunately, with no Halloween pipes this year, I was free to simply hand-sign this as a Signature grade and pop it up right now, fresh off the press. I am hoping we'll be able to finish the other two next week, and more can be made as demand warrants. Sadly, I think all three of these are going to be blasts, which is a shame, sort of... I think the design would look very good as a smooth finish, but I also know that the amount of sanding required to get all the detailing smooth would push the price to the 1K mark or beyond.

On another subject, I was pleased to see that my previous post on the reasons vendors often don't involve themselves on public forums generated a lot of good debate. Better still, the vast majority of the responses were both understanding and supportive. This makes me happy, because it tells me that I'm achieving one of my aims with this blog, which is to write an ongoing account of the perspective of a "pipe professional" that treats its readers as adults - I have taken the risk of saying some controversial things based on the implicit understanding that the majority of my readers are responsible, sane grown-ups who aren't going to fly off into hissy fits on any perceived slight, and it seems to be paying off in the form of consistently increasing readership. If this is going to be interesting to read, it simply can't read like a press clipping - everything can't be bright and shiny and soulless and carefully preened of anything that might-god-forbid-offend anybody anywhere. So, I suppose an occasional rant will be a part of the mix. As long as I don't turn into the pipe world's answer to John Dvorak, I'll be happy.