We’ve all seen them at pipe shows. Usually they're recently acquired and in the hands of some of the world’s most prominent collectors: those large, awe-inspiring masterpieces created by legendary carvers. While we in the business tend to play a bit fast and loose with the phrase “smoking sculpture”, these pipes ARE
smoking sculptures. Intricate curls, dramatic lines and a girth which begs one to replace the word “size” with “displacement”. As you to admire the piece however, somewhere in the back of your mind (come on, admit it), you are wondering “How in the hell would I be able to hold and smoke this, aside from the manner of an island tourist drinking from one of those ridiculously over-sized tropical bowls?!” Russian master pipe carver and Renaissance man Roman Kovalev has now turned considerable time and his formidable focus towards addressing this precise question.
With a length of 10” and a weight of 161 grams, this Whale is not only a calabash (as far as engineering is concerned), but a smokable cetacean which boasts impeccable lines, a lithe grace and flow, as well as such a heightened sense of stored energy, on the verge of the kinetic, that you might find your heart racing a bit when you pick it up. The cap is fashioned from Kuri (Japanese chestnut wood); a symbol of mastery and strength, and so treasured in Japan that it was being cultivated before rice - and take a gander at how well the lighter striations in the stain complement that cap. Still... for all of its grandeur and beauty, how the hell do you smoke it? Pretty much like you would any pipe, because that’s Doc’s intent, the raison d'être (if you will) of his hand ergonomic focus. Please take a tick to look at pictures #s 2,3,4,6 and 7. The arc and curve of the fluke, probably best appreciated in picture #4, forms a sinfully comfortable place to slide the lower part of your right thumb. I have had no fewer than seven fellow pipesters try it out (and the range of hand sizes was impressive), and a look of pleasant disbelief was universal. If you love the beauty and sheer style of this masterpiece, you will adore it in the paw. Highly recommended
--R. 'Bear' Graves