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One of Russia's most renowned and talented pipemakers, Viktor Yashtylov opened his St. Petersburg workshop in 2005, and immediately began to explore the relationship between stem base and shank end, melding the two with parallel lines or contrasting them with striking imbalance. This experimentation expanded to more elaborate, concave and undulating structures, blurring the lines between shank and stem, especially as Viktor incorporated harmonious accent materials.

Over the years, Yashtylov continued to shape and create, each idea expanding on and eclipsing the previous, but he realized that his forms were still restrained by the traditional paradigm of tenon-and-mortise construction, confining his creativity to a pre-accepted set of rules. Not to be tamed, Viktor developed an ingenious answer: magnets. By fitting the stem base and shank end with small, high-quality magnets, not only is the connection smoother and more seamless, allowing for more organic and inventive forms, but it also allows the pipe to be disassembled while still hot, like an army mount — not to mention that the *click* and invisible magnetic pull offer a tactile enjoyment that's unique in the pipe world.

For a carver whose shaping style often veers toward wild, Freehand designs comprised of striking facets and intricate panels, such an innovative approach to stem work affords both added practicality as well as more creative shank end and stem base shaping. It satisfies Viktor's earlier frustrations regarding poor stem and stummel complementation, while at the same time shifting the paradigm and expanding what's considered possible within pipemaking. It is paradigm shifts like this that challenge us to think beyond what we thought possible and make pipe smoking and collecting all the more intriguing and diverse.