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Thursday, October 26, 2006

Wild in October

Edit: Both of these pipes are shipping to Pipe & Pint on Monday, October 30th


Bonjour! In case anyone doesn't notice, there are TWO new blog entries today - the second one, "Lining the Pockets", got split off from this one because it all became too big for one post. I decided to break the news into two different topics. This one is new pipes!

Maybe it's the season, but I've had a passion for doing sweeping freehand-ey things lately. Plateau-topped pipes can sometimes be an iffy sale, as there are some who want the whole pipe planed off and shaped if they're going to pay big money for it, but I personally love the look of natural plateau sufaces - One just can't get surfaces that rough and chaotic even with sandblasting.

Here's the first of two new Talbert Briars I've just finished, very pretty and very swanky. I wanted to try and get at least a couple of "regular" Talberts made after finishing the Pfeifenigma and before going on to more FdP pipes. I haven't actually decided what to do with these two yet - I may sell them direct or send them over to Pipe & Pint (which translates to, "If anyone wants to buy one immediately, please email me because it may soon be on a boat crossing the ocean"). This one is another "trick" pipe, done using the new method of drilling that I explained in a past post, which allows me to drill more extreme curves using an off-center mortise airhole, yet still have the tenon airhole curve up to connect with it properly. I've got several of these out in the market now and all reports are uniformly excellent, so I expect I'll be doing more and more of these as time goes by. I love it because this sort of shape would normally be impossible with conventional drilling - either the bowl would have to be drilled dangerously low into the underside curve, or the airhole would be way off-center in the mortise with no hope of pipecleaner passage.

It's unusual in another way too - I wanted it to echo the look of a calabash, so I stained the bowl but left the plateau top natural. I was very, very tempted to stain the top black, but decided to leave it like this instead. I like the look, and if a buyer wants it black that can always be added, whereas it's a good bit more difficult to get the stain back off once it's on.....
I'm disappointed by the pics, though - the shank band is polished antler, and has a neat greyish grain with a few natural ripples left in it (I just know someone is one day going to fuss that the band "was not properly finished, it has ridges!!"). Alas, in the pics it just looks dull white.

The second pipe can be seen here:



This second one is a beautiful thing with a large, perfectly-drilled bowl and excellent grain. So why is it only a grade 2, and a good bit less money? Two reasons - it has a small grainless spot smack on the bottom underside of the bowl, and more importantly, freehands like this are sometimes a tough sale as the price starts to rise. Shapes like this are made so often and cheaply as lower-end pipes that they've tended to lose their "perceived value" in the market, so even an excellent sample like this would probably be hard to sell for a higher price, the handcut acrylic stem, contrast-stained grain, and fancy shank bridgework not withstanding. It's a shame, because I love freehands - As my friend Mark has commented, they're very "dwarvish" to me, with a rugged appeal all their own, and a big-bowled example like this is just about my ideal smoker.