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Tuesday, January 02, 2007

First Pipe of the Year

First Talbert Briar finished in 2007! I actually finished it yesterday, too, but didn't feel like doing all the photos and such last night. The New Year briar is another grade 4, unstained, natural finish, and costs 505 € if anyone is interested. The pipe is currently available, but as usual, I will probably send it to Pipe & Pint pretty soon if no one grabs it direct first. Oh, and it has a very nice bird's-eye display across the smooth top, which I completely forgot to photograph.

There is another one here too, the morta Signature sandblast seen in the last blog post in unfinished form, but that one was intended for a request and may not see the light of catalog sales.

I was trying to figure out what to write about, and Emily suggested making the New Year post about the New Year pipe - specifically, what exactly went into its creation, not in terms of technical details, but in terms of mood and ideas. I mentioned the different approaches to making a pipe in a previous post, and this seemed like a good contrast to talk about.

The reason is that the pipe in that post, made from a complete blank sheet of paper, probably looks like it came from a totally different person than this New Year's pipe, yet I made them both. But while that pipe was an exercise in nerves and emotional extremes, this one was all about fun. I had a medium-sized block to start with so there weren't going to be any elaborate designs coming out of it. Instead, I chose to do the exact shape that the grain created, a basic all-briar calabash/Dublin variant. It showcases a beautiful ring grain patterning that perfectly originates from the center bottom of the bowl and stacks upwards to show off that nice smooth Bird's-eye display on top. I wanted something happy and practical. But, I didn't want it to be too conventional, so I added in the exotic wood stem ring for a little pizazz, and the shank actually has a slight subtle curve to it that I enjoy giving my pipes. I'm sorry; sue me, I'm a sad sucker for S curves.

Working on pipes like this is more fun in some ways than the wilder pieces - For starters, I know I can do it! There's none of that trepidation that the whole thing will spin horribly out of control, or that I'll waste hours of shaping time only to have to discard the piece due to some uncovered flaw. What this sort of pipe lacks is the excitement, because it comes risk-free, just get the proportions right and I'm pretty much guaranteed that someone out there will love it and pounce. But, I don't by any means underrate the value of simple comfort! We can't always be trying to break new ground - Sometimes it's better to just relax and do what you already know you're good at, and I thought starting off the year with a nice little "fun pipe" would be a pleasant way to jump into 2007.