J. Alan: Smooth Bent Ball with Boxwood (Wave) (1825) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-376-0363

Form, function, and grain combine superlatively in this bent Ball from Jeff Gracik. While every pipe maker has the chance to manage the former two aspects — form and function — a briar block's grain is less controllable: As a natural material, briar can present myriad grain patterns, some better than others. An artisan pipe maker can shape according to this grain, maximizing its potential, but sometimes that potential has its natural limitations. As such, pipe carvers are on an endless quest to perfectly pair eminent artistry and expert engineering with naturally gorgeous grain, and Jeff has found that combination with this bent Ball, having designated it by his superlative Wave grade to distinguish the rare combination.

Jeff oriented the briar block to showcase cross grain and birdseye and appropriately prioritized broad, wide shaping cues to highlight this grain orientation in profile. When viewed from above, the shank reveals a trim, pinched nature, but from the side, its broad flanks offer plenty of canvas to showcase whorls of dizzying birdseye. The bowl's rounded curves and robust demeanor likewise showcase the grain and also welcome wrapped fingers for a substantial in-hand presence.

Though dominated by supple curves and gentle lines, the stummel bears a single ridgeline that adds textural contrast and also delineates the cross grain from the birdseye. This hard line runs along the bottom left side of the shank before dissipating seamlessly into the transition, and its edge sprouts parallel cross grain toward the right. Though the ridgeline doesn't continue into the bowl, its implied trajectory is continued by the cross grain's edge in a sort of visual illusion. Instead, the ridge divides in two near the shank end and curls upward through the boxwood accent, defining its face and incorporating it into the stummel.

The base of the hand-cut saddle stem mirrors the curved angle of the boxwood shank face for further compositional harmony, and the lighter tones of the boxwood match the lighter hues of the stummel's contrast stain while still maintaining attention on the briar's immaculate grain. This is a briar block of which artisan carver's dream, and Jeff's handling of it has elevated its potential with beautiful shaping and his renowned engineering, making for a pipe more than worthy of his highest grade and that perfectly embodies the ideal of pipes as functional art.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 6.13 in./155.70 mm.
  • Weight: 3.06 oz./86.64 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.06 in./52.32 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.69 in./42.93 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.81 in./20.57 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 2.09 in./53.09 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Bent Ball
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: United States
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