Todd Johnson: Smooth Cutty with Bamboo and Ivorite (Hoplite) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-194-0152

American artisan Todd Johnson is as much an artist as he is a pipe carver and, in the time since he began to make his art in the spring of 2000, he has advanced to the upper echelons of the craft. True, his background in woodworking has helped him to achieve what he has to date, but the man himself credits Tom Eltang, who, in the winter of 2001, took the young Todd under his wing and showed him the ways of shape first, drill second freehand work. Additional training with Lars Ivarsson further honed his skill set and deepened both his understanding of and appreciation for classic Danish shaping. Now, Johnson possesses a shaping style that is all his own. This Cutty in particular displays a distinctive shape which is seldom seen elsewhere and is only the third of its kind we've ever seen produced by Todd.

A wide transition here leaves plenty of room to drape a thumb and leads to a strikingly trim shank in both length and girth, its svelte length meeting an extension of bamboo that numbers four knuckles, a divot on the left flank being continued from the bamboo and into the briar of the shank itself. The angle of the shank poises the bamboo at a slight upward angle, making full use of the bamboo's own gentle curve to continue this gently sinuous arc, making its way toward a junction which has been adorned with a fitment of Ivorite. Married to the stummel here is a svelte saddle stem of jet-black vulcanite that features a stylish expansion ring at the base that slants slightly to the left, continuing the organic rhythm of the bamboo and stylistically mirroring its knuckles, all while canting the bit slightly to compensate for the natural material's organic turns. This is one of the hallmarks of a truly talented pipe maker, as most bamboo includes naturally asymmetric shaping and making up for that with one's own shaping is incredibly difficult and an exercise in precision and patience.

At the fore of the stummel we encounter the bowl, one which is quite different from other renditions of this profile that we've seen in more ways than one. Standing atop a sweeping heel, the walls of this bowl flare out to a mid-set waistline that provides ample curvature for the fingers to appreciate, before tapering slightly to a forward-slanting rim. As a Cutty, this pipe also displays a forward cant, and this combination of features makes for a pipe with a dramatic, striking presence which belies both its gracile outline and its light weight. In addition, this feature imbues the pipe with a wealth of forward momentum and a touch of extra organicism to match with its tuber-like shank extension, the bowl's compressed flanks contributing to a look that's positively Opera-like. A vibrant auburn stain dresses the briar here, revealing dense flicks of flame grain all the way around the bowl, contrasting with the bamboo, Ivorite, and the black stem.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.87 in./149.10 mm.
  • Weight: 0.90 oz./25.40 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.97 in./50.04 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.52 in./38.61 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.74 in./18.80 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.19 in./30.23 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Cutty
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: United States
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