This is only the second time we've seen Alex Florov's 'Manta', a design inspired, in part, by Hiroyuki Tokutomi's shape of the same name.
The composition is loosely draped around the structure that is the classic, Danish style Horn; its crescent shaped underbelly and smooth, gradual transition from shank to wide open bowl are the most identifiable characteristics of the Horn, as well as those features most in common with the Manta. Here, as in most variations or renditions of the shape, the ventral side of the piece is cut to create a paneled fin that runs from anterior to posterior. Alex, likely because of a his skill with it, has left scattered about the paneled fin several patches of exquisitely defined plateau. The posterior of the piece waves back, up, over and to the left, drooping like the massive tale of some great marine creature, establishing in the process a semicircle of empty space above the dorsal line that plays deliberately to the overall form and feel of the pipe. This is another feature ordinarily accustomed to the Manta; a challenging, conceptual issue that might be lost on a lesser carver.
Dazzling lines of grain radiate and fan out from the hard, curved edges on each flank, lending to the composition a steady sense of motion and dexterity. In a clever touch, Alex made up the saddle portion of the stem with a thick wafer of acrylic in a hue of fuchsia. This Manta is monumental in beauty, clarity of vision and execution. My applause to the pipe maker.
-- Ted Swearingen