Sykes and I saw this pipe for the very first time a early last month at the West Coast Pipe Show. It's safe to say that we were both totally blown away. In terms of composition alone, the piece is rather exciting, what with its stout, squat bowl, compact bowl-to-shank transition, chubby shank, and quick, carefully maneuvered saddle stem. Proportionally, it's exotic and exciting, it's masculine, and it's modern. And then, of course, there's that incredibly fascinating piece of fat bamboo that simply captivates the attention (the carver himself quite accurately compared it to a vertebrae). The component is particularly interesting for its texture and patched color and the manner in which both juxtapose against the hue and tone of the overall piece. This is simply a breathtaking piece from the J. Alan workshop and another testament to the incredible talent, vision, and craft of American pipe maker Jeff Gracik. Bravo!
-- Ted Swearingen