Neither Belgium nor Spain are known for producing many pipemakers, yet in Dirk Claessen what we have is a Belgian who makes pipes in Spain, took instruction from a Danish molecular biologist-turned pipemaker and a Swede who shapes his briars with his fellow-artisan girlfriend in a circus caravan... and last but not least, takes a fair bit of his inspiration from a departed German master. Well, the world of artisan pipemaking is full of strange stories and unpredictably woven paths, and that's about all I can say about that.
As for Dirk's actual work, well, from those I've seen he does well in living up to the stated ambition of providing his collectors with only the best quality for their dollar. Even in this earlier piece fit, finish, shaping, drilling, and stem-work are all right-on. The design itself is deep-chambered and easy in hand, and its profile, however dramatic, is deftly balanced by the angle of the rim, the positioning of the jutting spur, and the opposing curves of the fore and aft lines of the bowl.
- Eric N. Squires