Well, for those of you who never miss your chance to read one of our newsletters, you already know that I recently had the opportunity to hang out at Adam Davidson's shop. Now before I go on, I must say this is a far cry from a shameless plug for Adam Davidson, though he is a fantastic carver, and it would behoove you to check out some of his work. Anyhow, now that my disclaimer is out of the way I shall continue.
This visit was a while in the making for many reasons. I've found for many pipe smokers their maiden smoke was inspired by some experience from their childhood involving a situation where their father or grandfather opened their world up to the child, almost as a rite of passage. This seems to leave a deep connection to the pipe, tobacco, and its aroma, which is the case for me. Having experienced this myself, I wanted to share it with my daughter as she's growing into a young lady. Keep in mind I'm not advocating under-aged smoking, or smoking at all for that matter; I'm merely attempting to pass on some of the best moments from my youth to my daughter. That being said, I wanted to orchestrate a scenario in which my daughter could see the inner workings a pipe shop. This would give her the opportunity to see who and what I worked with on a daily basis, all while also establishing a positive connection to the pipe and all of its facets.
Between our chatting and enjoying cheese samples graciously provided by Adam, we managed to witness the journey a block of briar travels through in its way to becoming a pipe. The entire process is actually quite intriguing, and reminds me a bit of the story of Pinocchio (remember, I'm a father of young children -- this is the way my brain works now). There's an interesting energy that goes into selecting the briar. As we carefully perused through the chunks, I began to wish everyone could have this experience at least once in their life. You see, there's so much more to a piece of briar than a chunk of wood. It's more like a snowflake. Each individual piece has its own signature comprised of rings, birdseye, and flame grain just as each gently falling wafer of ice crystals possesses its own unique characteristics. This further makes each pipe that much more impressive.
With the flip of a switch, the shop was suddenly filled with the sound of a grinding wheel. Dust settled before us as we watched Adam shape a pipe. As I sat there, daughter in lap, I was reminded of that which Michelangelo said; "Every block of stone has a statue inside it and it is the task of the sculptor to discover it". Suddenly I realized Adam had already carved this pipe many times in his head. He knew exactly what he was going to carve when he selected the briar, and he was merely showing us that which he had seen within it.
At the end of the day, I bestowed to my daughter an experience I think she'll remember for many years to come. I know I certainly will.
When glancing through today's update you'll find pipes from makers such as Ashton, L'Anatra, Randy Wiley, Winslow, Cavicchi, Nording, Savinelli, Peterson, and Brigham, as well as much more than a smattering of estates. Enjoy, and keep puffing.
Brandon Bellegarde: Pipe Manager