Much like American artisan pipemakers, a new wave of German artisans have enjoyed an increased recognition over the past decade. Frank Axmacher is one such German pipemaker of this new wave, having been particularly encouraged in his own pursuit when he saw Cornelius Manz breakthrough into international awareness circa the early '00s. Though largely self-taught, drawing on a background as a sculptor and stonemason, Frank has taken advice from more experienced pipemakers when he's had the chance to, with Tom Eltang, Bertram Safferling, and the late German master Rainier Barbi amongst the most notable. We can see the results of both his own passion, and the value of the lessons he's learned here, in a distinctive variant of the Elephant's Foot. While still maintain the shape's signature grain orientation (i.e. birdseye front and back, ring grain running vertically along either side), he's tweaked the shape into something much softer and smoother, shaving down and gently contouring the typically paneled flanks. The result is something that combines a sort of Danish Modern minimalism with a considerable degree of organic naturalism, and which is easier in hand.
- Eric N. Squires