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Thursday, June 22, 2006

Third Time Charm, or Strike

For some time, I began to mark the stems of our Ligne Bretagne pipes with a series of small inlaid metal dots to connote the grade of the pipe - one dot through five. I thought it would work well as a logo mark and a functional grading indicator combined. What I did not think of (and this will show that experience and forethought can still produce utterly boneheaded ideas) is that this made the grade of the pipe a part of the making of the pipe, and it is often impossible to tell what the grade will be until the final stain and polish.

Dumb, dumb idea...

It did not help that I kept forgetting the dots completely, thanks to eight years of working with no stem logos at all. I needed a logo that could be inlaid early in the pipemaking process, and would be the same on all grades. From out of nowhere, I had the idea of two overlapping dots - a black dot of inlaid morta wood eclipsing a silver dot of inlaid metal. It seemed perfect. Simple, yet has all sorts of ideal connotations - eclipses, infinity, Yin-Yang, and on and on.

So, having five new LB bulldogs to do, I opted to introduce this new logo on these five pipes and officially do away with the old dots completely. I still love the idea, but some quirks did arise during the application and re-application. The holes are drilled by hand, so the two dots are never in the same relation to each other - sometimes nearly totally eclipsing, other times just barely touching, depending on how squirrelly the drill bit is (This will probably drive detail-obsessives nuts). Also, the logo turned out to be a fair bit of work! The first hole must be drilled, the metal mixed and filled, then the prolonged drying period, then the surface must be sanded flush to see exactly where the dot is for the second dot to be drilled in relation, then the morta dust must be ground and filled, then the thing sanded down again.... All in all, a good bit of extra work for a pipe which I don't pocket much profit on!

Anyway, we'll see. These first five examples will be on the way to the US soon. I hope the process will get faster and more streamlined with time, though unfortunately there just isn't that much that can be done to speed things along. So..... Maybe this is the new, final Ligne Bretagne stem logo, or... maybe not!

Here is a little group photo of some of the new pipes bound for P&P, if Larry wants them. The grain on those bulldogs is quite nice. The star, however, is that Signature grade morta with the olivewood shank - a briar-sized morta, for once! Weirdly, this started as just another goofy idea, an alternative to a bamboo shank, and even when the pipe was first finished, I was neutral on it. But, the more I look at it and hold it, the more I like the classical proportions and overall "meat" of the thing. It has certainly grown on me.