Sometime back we asked a whole bunch of prominent American artisans to come up with pipes (one from each, that is) for our third annual American Pipemaking Exposition, a showcase of sorts highlighting interesting themes and happenings within the American pipemaking movement. Previously we focused on the role bamboo plays in the modern American pipemaking scene, then later the use of sandblasted finishes, but this year we approached the carvers with a very specific theme: Accent Stems.
What did we mean by "accent stems"? We meant stems that played a particularly strong part of the composition of the pipe as a whole, whether that involved injecting a big splash of color (as Abe Herbaugh and Ernie Markle did), continuing a complex sculptural theme (as in the submitted pipes of Alex Florov, Scott Klein, and definitely Steve Liskey), or lending a modern design a more traditional element by using natural horn (as found in Brad Pohlmann and Pete Prevost's entries).
Along with those pipes where the shape or the choice of a certain single material made the stem especially important, several of the entries we received went with even more complex approaches, in the sense of the artisans creating their accent stems from more than one medium: Bill Shalosky with a composite fordite/juma stem, Jared Coles with one of blue vulcanite and semi-translucent, tortoise-shell patterned bakelite, and Todd Johnson with a lively combination of brightly polished aluminum and mint green bakelite being among the examples.
Well now they've all arrived, all been photographed, and all been described — which means they're all ready for you to peruse. And there are quite a few of them, with no less than twenty-two well known artisans having taken part.