Grechukhin: Smooth Bent Apple with Boxwood (G)

Product Number: 002-497-0277

This bent Apple from Vladimir Grechukhin is paradoxically derivative and utterly original, in essence representing the general ethos of artisan pipe making: a repetition of similar shapes yet rendered with creative nuance and differences each time. Pipes are both referential and individualistic. In the case of this piece, the style is quite self-referential, in that it conforms to the general aesthetic seen throughout Grechukhin's portfolio. Namely, the Russian carver's signature style often caters to compact pipes that house a considerable degree of muscularity, despite not being very large. This bent Apple checks both of those boxes, being under five inches in length and marked by a stout shank and exceedingly plump and hearty bowl. That said, it's certainly not an archetypal rendition of the pipe-chart standard, and it's slightly different from other renditions we've seen from Vladimir.

At first glance, one notices the difference between each side of the pipe in profile: The left flank reveals a much more defined transition, the curves of the lower bowl dramatically emphasized, whereas the right flank displays a softer, more expected transition between shank and bowl. At least, this characteristic is what I first noticed when observing this piece. The reason quickly became apparent as I turned the pipe over in my hand, revealing a crisp ridgeline of a teardrop shank running the length of the shank's underside. While the pairing of a teardrop shank with a rounded, Apple bowl is certainly not anything new, the orientation of the teardrop line is what sets this Grechukhin pipe apart. In profile, it's nigh impossible to discern that this piece features a teardrop shank; the lines are simply too clean, too precise.

Effectively, then, this pipe evolves as a composition in hand, revealing more of itself to the viewer. It's a complex artistic motif, and yet one that Grechukhin has accomplished so simply here — simply by orienting a teardrop shank slightly different than usual. The near perfect grain on this piece clearly influenced such a shaping choice by Vladimir, and it's also a testament to the Russian carver "reading" the grain and allowing it to inform his shaping, a feat that all artisans strive for but only few succeed at. Topped tastefully with an accent of boxwood at the shank end, it's dressed in Grechukhin's auburn-chestnut contrast stain, and it received his prestigious "G" stamp, his only grade designation.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 4.71 in./119.63 mm.
  • Weight: 1.60 oz./45.36 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.87 in./47.50 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.46 in./37.08 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.78 in./19.81 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.80 in./45.72 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Bent Apple
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Russia
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