News from the Pipemaking Workshop with the Funk.
Talbert Pipes Website - Kentucky Fried Popcorn - My Web Comic.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007


My apologies for the desolate silence on the blog lately, but the preparation for the Rheinbach show has really devoured all of my working time. Most months have me spending about 70% of my working time in the shop and 30% in the office, but so far this month it's about 85% workshop. I've gotten some nice stuff done, though. Which is a good thing, since our standing inventory has been gradually depleting to virtually nothing, with only one Talbert Briar left on the web catalog.

I'm not quite sure what to expect of the Rheinbach show, but I do think there are likely to be a lot of smooth Danish shapes there, so my focus (if any) is on pipes outside that sphere - Really nice sandblasts in rugged, classical English shapes, and rather bizarre and fantastical freehand creations. I'm keeping the wilder stuff under wraps until the show, but here are a couple pics of some of the more conservative pipes I'll be taking along. The unstained Dublin above is a beautiful piece - Big, meaty, thick-walled, with an incredibly tight pattern of grain rings. It's the sort of pipe that American collectors would swarm for, but what European collectors will think of such stuff remains to be seen.

Only the two pipes in the foreground of this photo will be at the show. The latter pipe, modeled on a bird's nest on a branch, is a 9mm filter piece done for a special order for a German buyer, and is already gone. I'm also trying to bring at least some examples of every line we make here. Currently I've got 2 Ligne Bretagne Collectors (One is green, which should be amusing), a couple of mortas in progress, a couple of standard Ligne Bretagnes in progress, and all the rest are Talbert Briars.... Seven at current count, plus whatever I can finish between now and show date. I don't plan on leaving the workshop for anything but food between now and Rheinbach!

Friday, July 06, 2007

The Unseen Ligne Bretagnes

Biz News - I posted two new Talbert Briars yesterday, but both have already sold to the folks on our email notice list. However, I also posted two rather interesting Ligne Bretagnes, and they're available - One is a sandblasted churchwarden and the other a neat contrast-stained candyapple pear.

And, breaking news! The late, lamented Welt der Pfeifen pipe forum has been resurrected from its dire fate. It is now under new, considerably-more-stable management, and all who enjoyed it before are welcome to pop back in! All the original user accounts are preserved, so you should be able to log in using your original username and password.

The pic pictured is one of many as-yet-unseen Ligne Bretagne shapes that we have here, but have never made pipes for sale from. Reasons vary. Many are just too small - Group 2 billiards don't have many fans willing to pay 100 € for one, and so they aren't worth the bother of turning into finished pipes. Other shapes offer different problems. While some of the LB stummels are pre-drilled with airholes, I often actually have less trouble with the ones I can drill myself.

Case in point, these bent bulldogs.

I've got no trouble cutting the ring on the bowl, finishing the rough-cut shanks, etc, but the airholes are ALL drilled at a high position in the shank, such that it is impossible to drill a mortise that will have the airhole centered in the bottom for pipecleaner passage. It's a shame, because I think these group 3-ish shapes could be popular sellers, with a bit of chin-tucking and spiffing. I tried drilling one just to see how deep of a mortise I could get before the airhole wandered too far upwards, and managed only to get about half a centimeter deep before it would no longer easily pass a cleaner.

Obviously, I could just disregard my "Must always pass a pipecleaner" rule, but I'm not willing to do that since I take pride in knowing that all my pipes pass this test. Unfortunately, this leaves only a choice of unworkable options for the shape. Doing one of my angled tenon inlet setups would work, but that is too labor-intensive for a Ligne Bretagne production budget. I could always do a VERY heavy mortise-bottom reshaping to channel the cleaner into the airhole, but I've heard enough buyers fuss about pipemakers who use this trick that I'm reluctant to try that either. Another option would be to reverse-tenon it - Make a male tenon set into the shank which would fit a mortise in the stem. This would be almost guaranteed to freak people out and result in lots of returns because it looks "different". So, the quandary remains, and another of many unseen LB shapes continues to be unknown.

They do serve one useful purpose, though - Like all of the unused LB stummels, they provide readymade examples for experimentation. The pipe in the pic is subject #6 in a set of alternative methods for creating a sharp black contrast staining. Very handy to be able to jot down step-by-step notes for different methods, then do them all side-by-side on readymade stummels to easily contrast and compare the end results.

In other news, I've just posted my first Photoshop web gallery. It's just a little experiment with one of the Photoshop tools, the automated gallery maker. I tried to get some current and interesting shots of various tools and such in the workshop, and I hope it will be entertaining! I'm not sure how, or if, the comments system works, but I guess we'll find out.