Tom Eltang: Smooth Rhodesian (Snail)

Product Number: 002-299-1234

When shaping a pipe, Tom Eltang prioritizes full lines, balanced proportions, and compositional harmony, and such an approach often results in rather minimalist designs that profess their beauty and artistry through elegantly seamless lines, stunning grain, and sterling craftsmanship instead of relying on wildly eccentric design cues or ostentatious adornment. That's not to say Tom doesn't carve the occasional, avant-garde pipe — just note his Arne Jacobsen lamp design and his snail-shaped pipes — but overall, his style follows the tenets of Danish functionalism, relying on the beauty of simplicity and shaping the briar in a manner that maximizes its natural grain. Tom's perfected his craft for over 45 years, and he's revered throughout the pipe making community for his expertise in shaping and engineering, with collectors worldwide seeking his pipes and many younger pipe makers traveling to his workshop in Denmark for tutelage. His influence extends beyond the stunning pipes he carves.

This Rhodesian encapsulates the fluid elegance and class that so often personify Tom's work. It's a rendition defined by softness as supple curves frame the profile, all flowing forward in dynamic style. The shank is oval of cross section, and yet it flares toward the shank end both in profile and when viewed aerially, the diminutive saddle stem base continuing the trajectory of the shank's lines to tastefully incorporate the mouthpiece into the overall composition. As the shank diminishes toward the transition, it draws the eye to the bowl, lending the rounded, bulbous aspect a prominently perched profile. From here the bowl flares upward while still retaining a rounded disposition — as opposed to, say, a classic Dublin's more rigidly lined expansion — before turning inward to form the domed rim. This taper and the domed rim are separated by a single ridgeline which represents the stummel's only defining hard line. The ridgeline is supported by the crisp chamfer of the inner rim and the structured shoulders of the saddle stem, and it serves to accentuate the form's curvaceous lines through its contrasting rigidity.

Most of all, though, it visually separates the two grain patterns highlighted across the bowl. Tom has shaped the piece and oriented the bowl's equatorial ridgeline to perfectly frame flame grain below and birdseye above, almost as if the lower bowl and the rim are two separate pieces of briar. Furthermore, the vertical striations continue along the shank's sides angling in unison with its trajectory. All brought out by a deeply rich, walnut contrast stain, the grain combines beautifully with the pipes shape, with neither one competing against the other — as if the briar itself was destined to be this shape — and such a pairing has earned this pipe Tom's prestigious Snail grade.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.88 in./149.35 mm.
  • Weight: 2.00 oz./56.70 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.80 in./45.72 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.39 in./35.31 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.80 in./20.32 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 2.12 in./53.85 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Rhodesian
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Denmark
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