Saturday
Jan072012

Michael Parks' Star Rises

Canadian Artisan Michael ParksMichael Parks is an intriguing character. I’ve watched his work from a distance for a number of years. Like many of the new generation of North American pipemakers, Parks’ skills inspire awe and so does his aesthetic. Whether he is crafting his version of some classic shape or creating something envisioned in mind’s eye, Parks endows his pipes with a distinct point-of-view and a recognizable style.

There are a lot of reasons to admire Parks. He is impeccably well-mannered and, although he is approachable and warm, he is sincere and respectful. There’s not a drop of diva flowing through him. He genuinely appreciates those who appreciate his work, but he doesn’t take himself too seriously.  If Parks has  inner demons to vanquish – and I wouldn’t be at all surprised to learn that he does (most high-performers in the creative sector do….) – they are secreted away.

At last November’s West Coast Pipe Show, it was readily apparent to anyone paying any attention at all that the redoubtable Mr. Parks has come into his own. To win some small opportunity to see the contents of his case required throwing a few elbows. While the pipe-collecting community can be a bit fickle and fashion-driven, it is very clear that Michael Parks’ star is rising among the firmament of those who are not only here to stay, but also revered. In my view, he deserves it.

I’ve been tempted a number of times to acquire some of Michael’s work, but timing and opportunity didn’t work out. At the Las Vegas show, I saw a pipe that I had to have. And I mean HAD to have.

When I asked Michael if the pipe was available, he replied that, while it wasn’t sold yet, an opportunity to purchase it had already been promised to someone else. As it turned out, that someone else – my friend and fellow collector, Rene Heredia – stood aside because he noticed me admiring the pipe earlier and knew how much I liked it. So, I was able to add it to my collection. I’m very happy about that.

Inspired by the shape of the Dunhill 120, this Parks pipe possesses one of the most elegant S curves traversing from button to bowl I’ve ever seen on any pipe.

Parks recent sandblasting approach has endowed this and other recent pipes with a fractal cragginess. The surface is not only beautiful, but it is likewise a tactile delight to the hand.

I’m looking forward to growing my collection of Michael Parks’ work. I have no doubt, however, that it may not be easy. Not at all. If the buzz in Las Vegas is a reliable indicator, I will have a great deal of company.

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Reader Comments (6)

I have several Michael Parks pipes - except at the other end of the spectrum - my tallest being a 3 5/8" lovat about 9" long and my widest is a big oval freehand with a 4" diameter. Besides having spectacular blasts, all my Parks are superior smokers! I highly recommend Michael's pipes.
January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRich Esserman
Neiil,
Great pipe, and I agree Michael Parks is the real deal. I commissioned a sandblasted Saucer from Michael in 2010 and he delivered one of the most beautiful pipes I have ever seen. Superb smoking qualities and an out of this world blast. We exchanged several e-mails and phone calls before the pipe was started, Michael was a great to work with. I recommend anyone looking for an amazing smoking experience should seek out Michael's work.
January 7, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel
Count me among the company Neill. I was sitting with you at the table with Rene and Michael, watching that drama unfold. Michael handled all the jockeying for that pipe like a true diplomat and Rene was most gracious in deferring to you. I too scored a wonderful little blasted bulldog over that smokey, table so full of beer glasses there was nary a spot to lay down a pipe.

The world of pipe aficionados is blessed to have the likes of Michael Parks fueling our passions. He makes achingly beautiful pipes that smoke like true champions.

Richard Friedman
January 8, 2012 | Registered CommenterRichard Friedman
neill, that day we were on richard's boat when you joined us for our VPC meet, i got to see that pipe. it's an absolute beauty. and i must say that when we were having a smoke outside on the deck, i was keenly aware of how much it suited you. i believe this pipe was in fact meant to be yours!
January 9, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdusty-z
I am new to the whole pipe world and have been researching things for the last few weeks and after reading this blog entry and seeing the picture of the sand blasted pipe I checked out his website. I have to say He makes the most beautiful pipes I have seen yet. It makes me want to save for one of his pipes as my first.
January 12, 2012 | Unregistered Commenteroldsoulsyounghearts
Hello,
I have a pipe with PARK just past the bowl - it has a gold star on the stem part and genuine briar written under Park - who makes it and where did it come from? My father-in-law was from Canada, so I assume Canada. He came to America in the 1930's.
April 17, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAnne

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