Dark, smoky, earthy, naturalistic - those were the first words to come to mind when I picked up this Grant Batson creation. Even so, within a few seconds I also began to notice that the underlying form and lines beneath the craggy black plateau and deep smoke-and-amber finish were very much of the smooth, controlled style of the Danish artisans, just presented with a very different approach to color palette. The result is unique: a fresh presentation of an already well-established school of pipe design, and one that also seems rather fitting, coming from a Texas-born artisan who learned how to shape briar from Teddy Knudsen, as well as Todd Johnson. Shape-wise, Batson does seem to have beefed up proportions a bit, too, giving this shape a more muscular presence than you'd expect from one of his Danish peers - something which works very well combined with both the darker finishing, and the extra-dense flame grain and plateau of the briar itself.
- Eric N. Squires