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Sunday, June 04, 2006

Some available pipes, Speak soon!

I've recently finished up a couple of really exceptional Signature grade pieces, one briar and one morta, which are not going to be posted on my site because they are marked for shipping over to Pipe & Pint. However, I thought I'd post a couple of preview pics of them for two reasons - to see if anyone wanted to snap them up before they went into the box, and as a preview of future Pipe & Pint stock, assuming no one grabs them within the next day or so (It seems tomorrow will be a holiday here also, so I guess they'll be shipping on Tuesday or Wednesday).

I should point out that these photos aren't quite as nice as usual, being snapped and assembled fairly hurriedly, though they do a good job of showcasing the pipes' details. Unfortunately, the Signature-grade briar (left) comes out looking rather more stumpy and thick in its pictures than it is in reality, where it is a pleasantly graceful piece. Emily thinks the stem magic trick is too twee; I love it for its continued theme (from the Moebius Bolus pipes) of intersections in 3D space. Plus, it will mystify folks in the shops who wonder how you're drawing smoke through it. I can't say enough about the briar quality on this one, though - Really, if the design had supported a bit more "splash" and "fancification", this probably would have been the third M-grade pipe of my career. It was just that good. I love being able to leave smooth pipes natural - I realize that it subtracts some of the potential visual impact one can gain from a nice contrast stain, but in cases like this I believe the virgin finish complements the fluidity of the overall design. A strong contrast stain would have made this too "loud", in my opinion. In any event, it's one of the highest grade Signatures I've made, and is available for anyone with 729 euros in pocket - just get in touch. American buyers, however, are encouraged to wait and buy it from Pipe & Pint if it ships to the states. If it goes, it will arrive there in a month and you can just purchase with a phone call and get your pipe in three or four days, instead of the vague "one week to five week" shipping times of the French post.

I'm going to be selling a lot more pipes this way in future. I've had it with the French Colissimo, really - They make it virtually untenable to run an export business here. According to their site, boxes to the US should arrive in 4-8 working days. In reality, this can be anywhere between 4-8 working days and about five weeks, with a lot of shipments taking four weeks easily. I'd love to have back the sheer amount of working time that I've lost answering customer inquires wanting to know where their pipe was, if they should worry, if there is anything I can to to check on it, etc. It annoys me to no end that my own image of speedy customer service is sullied by forced reliance on this French vagueness.... It is "in our network"... somewhere! Thus far, tracking numbers return only a few replies virtually devoid of useful into - Either "The box has been picked up from the Herbignac PO", "The box is in our network", "The box is at Reux, the export center", or "The box has been handed to local service"... but it can say any one of these messages for the entirety of the trip, making tracking nearly useless ("The box is in our network" is a very common thoroughly vague reply). When the inevitable email inquiries come to me from worried buyers, all I can ever do is say, "Buzz me after thirty days and I'll file an insurance claim, which will make the pipe appear by magic in two days". Which happens every time a claim is filed. It's like they need to be kicked just to provide basic delivery, really annoying.

So, potential US buyers, unless you absolutely HAVE to have one of these pipes and don't want to take the chance of them being snagged by someone else beforehand, you'll have a much more pleasant buying experience if you wait until they arrive at P&P and buy from them!

The other available Signature-grade pipe is this giant Morta Bettafish:


I say "giant" because of its size in comparison to the usual Bettafish we make for half the cost. It is proportionally identical to its smaller siblings, making it look just the same in photos, but in hand the difference is obvious. The bottom photo does a decent job of showcasing just how much larger this pipe is - It is pictured next to my own first Bettafish, the pipe displayed on the opening morta page. Beautiful morta grain on this one, and it benefits from a handcut churchwarden stem filed and drilled from black German ebonite rod stock. Normally I try to avoid making high-grade churchwardens simply because it's terribly wasteful of stem rod - I could have gotten three normal stems from this section. The price on this one is 650 euros, and again, contact me if interested, otherwise it will be going into the box of pipes for Pipe & Pint this week.

After all that, I've run out of space for the article I intended to write. I have three topics tacked up for future blog posts. One will be on the technique of mind-mapping, and using it to tackle design and focus problems, while the other two will discuss the growing gap between amateur and professional pipemakers and the burgeoning trend towards ridiculously over-obsessiveness, otherwise known as, "I was shocked to find a noticeable scratch on the interior of the shank airhole of my $150 pipe while inspecting it with my combination rectal-probe-light-magnifier." Ought to generate some amusing buzz... ;)