There are many factors that can make or break a shape. Symmetry, asymmetry that is deliberate rather than accidental, length and bend of stem, and bowl to shank proportions are all crucial. But to my eye, the transition is paramount. A sloppy or clunky transition is the mark of an inexperienced carver, whereas a well-executed transition usually indicates the work of a Master. It is in the transition that this J. Alan design thrives. The bowl may be perfectly full and formed, the oval shank gently tapered, the lines elegant and flowing, but without the attention given to the transition, that indescribable "it factor" would be missing. This is a pipe for those who favor a more substantial briar complete with a very generous chamber. It is frankly shocking the balance that Jeff is able to achieve in his larger designs and when you add to that the legendary comfort of his hand-cut stems, you end up with a pipe that feels easier in the jaw than one might expect from a pipe weighing just shy of 77g. It would not be fair of me to reduce this composition to its form and function without mentioning the incredible grain, which is highlighted by the criminally vibrant contrast finish.
- Shane Ireland