Michael 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.