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Monday, May 23, 2011

Experiment in Smoke, Part 3 - The Pipe

So, today I sit myself down to write the last part of my article series on this pipe.  Please pardon me if I ramble a bit, as I was up late last night for our regular Sunday night "Twitter and a Movie", a recurring internet get-together where various friends and I all queue up a streaming Netflix movie to watch and comment on (Last night we managed to survive 1960's Dinosaurus!, a stop-motion mashup of Land of the Lost and Gilligan's Island that included a dinosaur fight and a caveman in a dress).  The pipe just shipped out to its new owner and since it won't be appearing on the website, I thought I'd post the final photos of it to conclude this "Making of" story.  To say I'm pleased is an understatement - It's rare that a project goes so perfectly from initial rough sketch to final design.




The quality of the briar helped a lot, of course, but for this pipe the briar was really secondary to the overall design.  I love tackling projects where I'm not entirely sure what the outcome will be - Doing it because it's interesting and enjoyable and intriguing, not because you hope it will sell or be a big hit.  To recap my original goal, what I wanted here was nothing less than a re-imagining of the concept of the Calabash pipe - Something that was modern and dynamic, yet still classical and functional enough to equal the smoking qualities of its design forbears.  To do this, I used a hollow meerschaum expansion chamber fitted into the interior of the lower wood section, where the smoke could expand, cool, condense, and provide a lighter, less biting flavor to the taste.  Here's the fitted stem and decorative mortise that caps off the interior chamber:




While it isn't the sort of pipe one is ever going to clench due to size and weight, I did try hard to give it a substantial bowl size (One of my chief complaints with Calabashes in general is that the bowl chambers tend to be so small because of the need to fit them into the outer shell with bottom drainage).  The only technically challenging parts of the construction were the measurements of the internal bits - Turning the meerschaum chamber, cutting to length, fitting the briar mortise and brass ring, etc.  Usually I don't keep specific notes on individual pipes since I try not to repeat myself a lot in Talbert Briars, but this is one example where I intend to write out detailed step-by-step archive instructions, complete with drill bit sizes and all measurements, for reference in case I ever make another of these things.  That, of course, will depend on demand, though if spare time permits, one day I'd like to do one of these for myself.  I have a mania for collecting different "pipe philosophies" - Clays, briars, meers, expansion chamber pipes, Kiseru, etc - and this is just the sort of bizarre and unusual creation I like to have for smoking comparison.