Thursday
Aug052010

The Thermodynamics of Pipe-Smoking

Originally Posted Tuesday, February 7, 2009

 

A great deal has been written about how smoking technique changes the pipe smoker’s experience. While smoking technique seems to apply only to the strength and pace of draw, we know that a number of other variables also impact the experience: the pipe selected, chamber shape, the tobacco blend selected, and the density at which the tobacco is packed into the bowl.

Most pipe smokers focus first on their pipe and/or tobacco selection, secondarily on their tobacco-packing technique, and finally on tamping technique.

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Thursday
Aug052010

The Piper’s Dozen: Neill’s Top 12 for 2009

I can’t believe that 2009 will soon be behind us. I remember being told as a boy that the older you get, the faster that time goes by. I’m still not quite sure about the absolute veracity of that statement, but it sure feels true for me. 2009 was a sprinter.

As I wrote last year in my Piper’s Dozen post, the end of a year is a great time to look back and reflect. For me, it was a tough year in many ways.

In my business life, it was a white-knuckle year where I found myself anxious about my clients’ welfare, my own business’ cash flow and profitability, and, like many of you - I’m sure - worried about the state of the economy and prospects for the future. I kept telling myself, “This too, shall pass. We’ve seen tough times before and we’re better positioned for them than ever.” I’m grateful for the truth in these observations, too.

Like a lot of people, I had fewer dollars in my pocket than in previous years, and I found it necessary to throttle back on pipe collecting, somewhat. I was still able to acquire some lovely pipes this year, but acquisitions were made only upon de-acquisitions, so I think that my overall collection shrunk somewhat. That’s okay. I still feel really blessed and I think that my collection is better than ever, even if it is somewhat smaller.

You will notice that I have included disclosure paragraphs in each of my articles. New laws require disclosures of consideration where they exist, since apparently a lot of bloggers regularly receive lots of gifts, samples, and general toadying from the companies and people about whom they write.

Upon reflection, it has become clear to me that I would have done much better to have started “A Passion for Sports Cars,” or “Gonzo for Gizmos.” I need to find a category where the vendors and craftspeople are not so miserly <grin>.

12. Best Pipe Accessory: 8/16 Pipe Bag by Smokin’ Holsters

Smokin Holsters 8/16 Bison Pipe Bag by Neil FlancbaumI’ve been carrying this particular pipe bag for over five years now and I love it more with every passing year. The bison skin of which it is fashioned has only gotten softer, more supple, and more beautiful. Its kangaroo lacing is as tight and even as the day I bought it. The only wear I can see is that the lighter pocket has stretched a bit from having had the lighter inserted and removed hundreds of times. Not a stitch has come out and the bag has done its job protecting my pipes and acting as the home for my rotation ever since I put it in service. From talking with its creator, Neil Flancbaum, I’ve learned that a lot of guys find this bag a bit too big for them, but I can’t imagine carrying anything smaller. Though I rarely carry more than eight pipes at a time, I’ve had over 30 pipes in the bag at shows. Needless to say, I love variety in my selection. This Christmas, I shopped to buy my wife a new handbag. After seeing machine-made bags in split-grain leathers routinely ranging from $1,000 to $3,000, I cannot imagine anyone objecting to the price of this 8/16, especially given that one carries it year-in, year-out. Hermes doesn’t make anything better and Flancbaum stands behind his goods like no other pipe bag manufacturer.

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Thursday
Aug052010

The Tailor-Made Pipe

Originally posted Friday, March 10, 2010

 

Earlier this week I received the above-pictured sandblasted pear from Jack Howell. I’ve been talking about getting this shape from Jack for years after having seen and admired a pear in my friend Ed Anderson’s collection.

Like many shapes that appeal to me, Jack Howell’s pears have a gestural, natural quality. Aesthetically, the shape’s long and curvy lines have been pared to the essential. Howell’s pear exemplifies the less-is-more concept.

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Thursday
Aug052010

The Poetics of Pipes

Originally published Wednesday, October 8, 2008

 

Steamer by Brad Pohlmann

Last Saturday evening I found myself in a late-night pipe conversation with Jody Davis and Brad Pohlmann. These talks are rare and precious - at least for me. It’s not often that I get to sit down over drinks for a couple of hours to talk pipes, listen, learn, and reflect on the conversation. I love these conversations most because while I learn about pipes, I also learn about myself, too. I am grateful for the insights I gather.

I am at different places in my relationship continuum with Jody as opposed to Brad. Jody Davis is the first artisan whose work I seriously collected. Brad is an artisan whose work I watched grow and develop into someone to whom I felt increasing urgency to collect. So while I have a modestly respectable number of Jody Davis’ pipes, my Pohlmann collection is very much at a beginning stage, though it will undoubtedly grow.
As I sat and talked with these men, I contemplated what it is, exactly, that I find compelling in their work. There are so many fine pipe makers out there. Why them?

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