Grechukhin: Sandblasted Blowfish with Palmwood

Product Number: 002-497-0307

Vladimir Grechukhin is perhaps the greatest living master pipe maker in Russia, and rightfully so, as he began his journey into pipe making in the 1970s at the age of 18, apprenticing under Alexei Fyodorov, one of the best pipe makers in the USSR. He began by crafting cigarette holders and was not allowed to touch briar for a long while, as the treasured burl was incredibly difficult to come by in those days, and this shortness of supply gave Grechukhin the utmost respect for his medium. With a background in art and design and his keen eye for incredibly small details, Vladimir became so good at his craft that, before his death, Fyodorov said that Grechukhin had surpassed even him, that the student had bested the teacher, and, given his body of work, it's clear to see that this tutelage has not gone to waste in the slightest. This pipe in particular is like nothing I have ever seen from the master maker, yes, it is a Blowfish, though at first glance you would be forgiven for thinking otherwise, but it is not like any Blowfish I've ever seen. Imagine, if you would, that you took the bowl of a Blowfish and, instead of orienting it with its asymmetric panels facing the flanks, you flipped it on its side and drilled the chamber into one of those panels.

The result of this inversion is utterly singular and, as the composition, despite its origins, becomes completely foreign to the eye once it has been altered in this way. The shank is paneled, though from a direct view into the draft hole it looks to be shaped as a firm teardrop, and the ridgelines it has been carved with disappear into the bowl and transition swiftly, almost vanishing, speaking to the incredibly painstaking process of rendering them. The shank end is adorned with a band of palmwood to which a saddle stem is married, and the visual texture of this alternative medium provides an excellent contrast to the sandblasted stummel. The bowl itself features a wrapping ridgeline around the fore that encircles the briar entirely, though at an angle, dropping from its initial position to its lowest point at the rear, near the shank, stepping down at the underside of the bowl. This cinching of the briar is swift and soft, coming to a dome, its lowest point near the fore offset by the chamber placement nearer the aft, comparatively. The upper body of the bowl tapers to the rim, itself a dome, and the rim is dipped, curved in shape and the chamber lightly chamfered. There is something inherently mystifying about this pipe, something that immediately ensorcells the viewer due to its almost otherworldly nature, be it the shaping, the sandblast which brings out growth rings along the upper bowl that are almost perfectly in line with its curves, or some combination of both. This is a piece that is utterly extraordinary in every way, and not just in the colloquial way, but in the way that speaks to the enrapturing quality of its bizarre-ness.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.25 in./133.35 mm.
  • Weight: 2.00 oz./56.70 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.58 in./40.13 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.16 in./29.46 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.75 in./19.05 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 2.05 in./52.07 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Blowfish
  • Finish: Sandblast
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Russia
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