I held this Kent Rasmussen Volcano for over thirty minutes, fiddling with it at different vantage points, taking in the shape and grain, knowing full well that I had a deadline to meet, but for the life of me just couldn't put it down to get started. It was as if I was in some sort of trance-like state. Could you blame me?
I think it's a testament to Rasmussen's standards as a pipe maker that this piece, with all of its immaculate grain, was placed in the second tier of on the grade scale (ranging from 1-3 stars; the Butterfly stamping being his absolute highest). Beautifully unconventional, the grain on the bowl and shank are so close together they begin to overlap into layers, creating a texture that I would describe as bristly animal fur - the kind you might find on a wild fox. On the pipe's underbelly is a treasure trove of birdseye, appearing like the entrance of an ancient cave that is covered in an impenetrable veil of spider webs.
Shape-wise, it's a fairly neoclassical Danish rendition of a Volcano. The first place the eye falls is on the bowl, which bears most of the visual weight. Beginning at the rim, we see a perfect, little halo of birdseye, which quickly expands out, then softly sweeps at the base into an effortless gesture. It is a form which perfectly encapsulates the grain, almost seemingly bending to it - the stain is warm and classic, given a highlight of yellow in the Mazur Birch stem accent.
Now, to be completely honest, I am not usually a fan of the Volcano, and I know a lot of other pipe lovers who aren't either; it's a tough shape to execute, but in this pipe, however, I have seen the light.