J. Alan: Sandblasted Potato Sack with Bamboo (1866) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-376-0368

One of the appealing aspects of artisan pipes is their individuality, each piece being uniquely shaped and hand-carved to showcase that particular briar block's grain patterns. That said, artisan pipe makers will often return again and again to a single design, rendering it in myriad ways and experimenting with different ideas. Sometimes this exploration spans a carver's entire career, with months or years separating individual iterations; other times, though, an artisan becomes engrossed in a design, fashioning versions one right after the other. Each poses its own distinctive differences and subtle changes, and the collection of renditions acts as a sort of road map, outlining the pipe maker's journey through the specific shape. For the first half of 2022, Jeff explored the historic Potato Sack shape.

The Potato Sack is a signature Sixten Ivarsson design, yet it's a much rarer shape in modern pipe making than, say, his iconic Peewit. That said, the two often share numerous shaping cues in common. The bowls can be similarly Acorn-like in their stance, and the shanks often meet the transition at a similar, angled posture. That said, the Potato Sack's moniker gives a notable clue to its defining design aspects: Its bowl is typically amorphous and asymmetrical, resembling its namesake's full and robust, oblong nature. This particular rendition from Gracik, however, is one of the ones most similar to the Peewit out of those that he fashioned throughout 2022.

While other J. Alan iterations reveal a more noticeable rotundness, this example is more obvious in its Acorn-like flare toward the rim, though the walls are considerably more robust and full-bodied than on typical Peewit interpretations. Furthermore, Jeff imbued the bowl with a touch of asymmetry — the left side raised a touch higher to evoke the imbalance and organic nature of a real-life potato sack. Compared to the bowl, the transition is a slight and trim affair, shooting outward in a sharp angle that lends the profile a regal posture despite the bowl's more gentle shaping.

The majority of this shank comprises five knuckles of bamboo that Jeff sourced from his home of southern California, and it offers a strong degree of color variation for visual complexity and a vintage aesthetic. A trim saddle stem of hand-cut vulcanite completes the composition and provides comfortable smoking, and its base is slanted to urge the form forward into the bamboo and spaced perfectly to initiate the knuckles' consistently decreased separation. Typically, carvers will accent a pipe with bamboo that features evenly spaced knuckles for consistency, but Jeff here selected a unique ferrule whose knuckles gradually reduce their spacing. Such a motif lends dynamism to the form as the bamboo seems to rush forward into the bowl's crisp, grain-defining sandblast.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 6.37 in./161.80 mm.
  • Weight: 1.47 oz./41.73 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.04 in./51.82 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.83 in./46.48 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.81 in./20.57 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.73 in./43.94 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Freehand
  • Finish: Sandblast
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: United States
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