Ryan Alden: Sandblasted Billiard with Bakelite (Queen of Hearts)

Product Number: 002-777-0033

Ryan Alden keeps flexing his classic English shaping muscles, and this Billiard only proves just how strong those muscles have become. Though the straight Billiard is a traditional — if not the traditional — shape and has been rendered countless times over, it's by no means an easy design to fashion well, especially by hand. It's one of those forms in which proportions and symmetry are paramount and any sort of deviation is readily recognized as a mistake. That said, this Billiard from Ryan is as perfect as they come: The way the bowl cants slightly forward keeps the lines natural and appealing, reinforced by the slight taper from transition to stem base. The heel is firm, well-positioned, and properly curved, and the bowl's height relative to the overall length just simply works well in profile, providing plenty of briar in hand and chamber depth yet without seeming too drastically bowl heavy.

Dressed in a beautiful Tanblast, flanks of dimpled birdseye are bisected by a central band of cross grain. Though free of adorning accents, Ryan has fitted it to a stem of bright, McDonald's yellow-hued bakelite (the pipes in this update being the first ones from Alden to be fitted with stems completely made from bakelite). It echoes the lighter hues of the rim that Alden has brought out with a striking contrast stain, the outer portion of which has been sandblasted to gradually dissipate into the smooth, innermost section. I always love seeing classic shapes lent modernist touches from creative artisans, and the Texas-based artisan has knocked this rendition out of the park.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.32 in./135.13 mm.
  • Weight: 1.57 oz./44.45 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.14 in./54.36 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.77 in./44.96 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.80 in./20.32 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.62 in./41.15 mm.
  • Stem Material: Other
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Billiard
  • Finish: Sandblast
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: United States
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