American Estates: Jody Davis Smooth Freehand Sitter with Mammoth (Saint) (A06) (47) (2006) Tobacco Pipe
Product Number: 004-009-16518
Jody Davis is perhaps one of the best American artisans active today, and certainly one of the most well-respected, but he is not only that, he is also a member of Grammy-nominated rock group Newsboys, who have a cumulative four gold records under their belt. Davis is a man of many talents, that goes without saying, but his journey as an artisan began as many do: with a passion for pipes and smoking. After making his first piece and showing it to one Keith Moore, Moore realized the potential that Davis had and put him into contact with legendary Danish artisan Jess Chonowitsch who showed him some of his methods and shared his sources for materials. At this point Jody began to immerse himself in carving, dedicating himself to the craft and later working with J.T. Cooke in his Vermont workshop for a week, all of which contributed to his incredible depth of knowledge and refined his eye for detail. These aspects are embodied in this Saint grade Freehand, an appellation that Davis gives only to his best pipes, with the only grading above it being the venerable Halo grade.
This Freehand is one of the most impressive pieces that I've ever seen from Davis, as it is simply a masterclass in shaping, asymmetry, and clean line work. Incredibly structural in overall construction, this pipe also features a sculptural leaning, as the flow of its lines speak to a deep understanding of the balance between firmness and softness. When I say this I speak primarily of the way that the shank is built, with the top side a clean even curve from its mammoth bone end-fitment and the bottom side a firm ridge that dips at the transition into the flat, extended heel. This is also a relative visual effect, as this ridge is only present on the left flank, so, when viewed from the right, you see a clean, smooth arc. The most mind-boggling element of this pipe's construction is, undoubtedly, the entire composition's lean to the left when sitting, as the way in which Davis has shaped this is such that the bowl appears to be blooming forth from its heel, expanding gradually and curving as it does, taking the shank and stem with it. This is something that caused me great confusion at first, and then great admiration, as the time and effort it takes to pull off something like this, and do it well, is startling, though he has done it in a way that feels natural and absolutely artistic. Not only this, but the entire thing also leans forward, imbued with a momentum that ceaselessly draws the eye across its surfaces and, when viewed in just the right way, gives me the impression that the briar itself is locked in a graceful dance.
It sits incredibly well on its heel, and the shaping that's gone into the bowl also renders it quite plump in the hand, with its leanings and momentum creating an almost perfect place for the hand to grasp it, especially if you're right handed. Of course, I would be remiss without talking about the stain that Davis has given this piece: a warm, high contrast mahogany that showcase stunning flame grain on the bowl which follows its movements remarkably well, furthering its momentum, and an incredibly dense birdseye ring that crowns the softly inflated rim. This is equal parts art and pipe and it is sure to provide many hours not just of smoking enjoyment, but of appreciation of its form and the incredible workmanship which has gone into it.-John McElheny
Measurements & Other Details
Minor Rim Darkening Mild Chamber Carbonizing Minor Tooth Marks
- Length: 5.64 in./143.26 mm.
- Weight: 3.07 oz./87.09 g.
- Bowl Height: 2.74 in./69.60 mm.
- Chamber Depth: 2.00 in./50.80 mm.
- Chamber Diameter: 0.89 in./22.61 mm.
- Outside Diameter: 1.94 in./49.28 mm.
- Stem Material: Vulcanite
- Filter: None
- Shape: Freehand
- Finish: Smooth
- Material: Briar
- Country: United States