J. Alan: Smooth Scorpion Vase (2018) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-376-0398

Jeff Gracik is the American artisan behind J. Alan pipes, and his achievements have made him one of the most easily recognizable, well-regarded carvers in the United States, if not the world. His journey into pipe making began with a pair of briar blocks purchased while he was studying for his graduate degree, hand-carving them to make use of them himself and fitting the two stummels with preform stems. This first step ignited within him a passion for the art of carving, leading him to study under some of the world's most talented artisans, laying the foundation for his current career as an artisan.

This Scorpion Vase is one of Gracik's most unique pieces, showcasing a look that calls to mind the signature Vase shape of Horoyuki Tokutomi, though which embodies a distinctly organic disposition. The aforementioned organicism here not only infuses the outline of this pipe with a sinuousness and easy curvature, but highlights its relation to the eponymous order of arachnids which is its namesake. The bowl here holds a good deal of the organic shaping here, standing atop a taut heel that's strikingly compact given its sure-sitting nature, supporting the entirety of the stummel in an elegantly poised stance. The walls of the bowl here are supple and rounded at the flanks, offering a comfortable feel in hand while cultivating an asymmetrical silhouette that sees the bowl curve slightly to the left. A pair of panels surround the flanks here, granting the midsection a framed area flanked by a duo of ridges that plunge through to the underside and frame the heel. Shape-wise, the bowl itself is inflated near the top, reminiscent of an inverted teardrop sat atop its flattened point mid-fall: or, alternatively, the venom glands and base of a scorpion's stinger.

A tightly-knit transition gives way to a curling shank that flares out gently toward its face, fitted with an inlaid brass ring and paired to a smartly curved, push-style saddle stem of jet-black vulcanite. A series of ridgelines frame the shank as it lifts out of the bowl, firming up the composition a bit while keeping the curves of the shape here well-represented in profile. The combination of shank and stem here is angled nicely, not only making for comfortable smoking, but enhancing the dynamic structure of the pipe as a whole. Dressed in one of Gracik's rich contrast stains, the stummel here reveals a wealth of stunning grain beneath its chestnut tones. The flanks of the bowl showcase dense oceans of birdseye on either side, something seen on the flanks of the shank as well, while the midsection is striated with cross grain that wraps around the briar. A sure-sitting pipe that boasts vertical dynamism, organic styling, and a look reminiscent of the works of Japanese masters, this pipe is evidence of Gracik's phenomenal skill.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.52 in./140.21 mm.
  • Weight: 2.40 oz./68.04 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.22 in./56.39 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.65 in./41.91 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.76 in./19.30 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.63 in./41.40 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Freehand
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: United States
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