Chronology, the cornerstone of the blogging world with its reverse chronological organizational structure, can be terribly challenging while traveling. I haven't had nearly as much time to write about the visits as I'd hoped and I'll be putting up bits and pieces over the next few days as I can get videos and pictures edited and some thoughts on paper. This is my eighth visit to Denmark during the past six years; it is always a particular treat to be here. So, as I'm working on that, here's a quick overview of each visit.
Kevin Godbee, of PipesMagazine.com, and I arrived on different flights from the US, but within a few minutes of each other. After taking care of airport necessaries and a quick stop at the hotel to clean up, we set out for Peter Heding, who lives and works in a small town near Roskilde. Peter holds a PhD in biology and until a few years ago worked in diabetes research. Deciding that wasn't the life for him, he became a full time pipe maker in 2006. Today, he's making some amazing pipes and we got to see a couple of stunning diamond graded pipes that he had just completed, plus got to spend some time watching him work and generally chatting about goings-on.
That afternoon, we swung south on Sjaelland to Praesto, where we met Lasse Skovgaard Jorgensen at his new workshop. Lasse grew up in this beautiful part of Denmark, so this is actually near where I visited him when we first started working with Lasse's pipes in 2005. Lasse has been playing musical workshops lately, in large part because he rented space from Stanwell a couple of years ago, and then Stanwell shuttered that factory this spring. For now, he's using some space near his grandmother's home, not far from where he grew up. Officially, he's on vacation right now, something that Lasse takes particularly seriously, so he met us at the workshop and he hadn't been there in a couple of days. With a spread of perhaps a dozen beautiful pipes (most of which will arrive at Smokingpipes.com sometime soon) on the table, we set about playing around in the workshop and he shaped a pipe while we took a little video and shot some pictures. We went out to dinner, but I was so tired and jetlagged by then that I was a bit hazy, I think we had a really nice time.
The following morning (yesterday), we got up and drove up to north-eastern Sjaelland to visit Lars Ivarsson. I've already mentioned this some in my one previous trip post, so I won't delve into again here, except to again say that Annette's (Lars' wife) lunch was amazing. Given that Lars smoked the fish (that sounds like something pipe related, but he smoked a literal salmon, which we literally ate!) and shot the deer, perhaps he should get a nod for his culinary contributions too. We also spent a bunch of time talking about Sixten's early career, as well as Lars'. I'd heard all of this before, but in bits and pieces but never felt like I had the story coherently. I recorded the conversation and I'll turn it into something readable sometime soon. Five hours visiting Lars and Annette sped by in what felt like about an hour. I could (and have on a number of occasions) simply listen to Lars talk about pipes and pipe making in Denmark in the 1960s and 1970s for hours.
That evening, almost on a lark, I called Tom Eltang while we were driving back towards Copenhagen from Lars'. Tomorrow, we'll spend the whole day with Tom in the workshop, so last night's visit was very much on a whim. Tom gave Kevin the grand Eltang workshop tour, which never ceases to be fun for me too, though I've probably seen him give it a half-dozen times. Then I showed Tom my wounded soldier, one of the new Tubos pipes that I'd been smoking since Chicago that I had unceremoniously bitten through the stem of during a particularly intense meeting one afternoon (for the record, smoking a pipe in a meeting makes you seem smarter; biting through the stem and spitting out bits of vulcanite does not). In classic Tom fashion, he whipped out a new stem for me and I was smoking it again an hour after I showed him the problem. We'll see Tom again tomorrow.
This morning we set out at a little after 9am to visit Peder Jeppesen of Neerup Pipes. Peder makes about 2,500 pipes a year, so the whole structure of his workshop and his methods are rather different from those we're seeing elsewhere on this trip. Given that he makes about ten pipes a day on average, he must work with speed and efficiency, making excellent pipes available at reasonable prices. With the closure of Stanwell and the distribution of its production to various countries, Peder is the last factory-shape pipe making in Denmark, and he is indeed something of a one-man factory. I got some great video of his various processes, so I'll get that up in the next few days also.
Jess Chonowitsch has not made pipes since mid-2006, when his wife Bonnie fell ill; he has spent his time in the past four years caring for her rather than making pipes. I last saw him in 2007, and while I've called periodically and suggested we have coffee now and then when I've been in Denmark, it's been so difficult for him to get away that we'd not been able to make anything happen. This trip, I was delighted to be able to finally see Jess again. I've always enjoyed my time with both Jess and Bonnie. Jess has a quiet gentility that is so evident in his pipes. And he has such a rich history in the pipe world that simply being able to sit with him and pick his brain about pipes or pipe making is a very special experience. So, we sat in the garden for an hour and a half and just chatted. Jess is starting to get to where he can make pipes again, having spent time cleaning and organizing his workshop properly for the first time in a long time. I am very excited to see what he does over the next year or so. There's been much speculation as to whether he would start making pipes again; I'm quite confident that he will.
So, tomorrow, on to Tom Eltang's shop for the day. That should be a lot of fun. On Tuesday, we're headed to Mac Baren in Svendborg in the morning and to see Peter Heeschen in the afternoon. Wednesday we go to Orlik in Assens, then to Kent Rasmussen in Aarhus. On the last day, we'll head up to the tip of Jylland to visit Mogens Johansen (Johs) in Frederikshavn, then on back to Copenhagen. To misquote Tom Eltang, "It's good to be a pipe seller!".