Let's face it: Pipe cleaners are something of a necessary evil within the pipesmoking hobby. (Well, "evil" might be a tad hyperbolic, but at the very least, they're a tool that's more tolerated than enjoyed.) While we all admire and appreciate new lighters and exotic tampers, I've yet to hear anyone boast about the sweet pipe cleaners they just bought — just like I don't encounter people bragging about taking their car in for an oil change. It's simply a necessity. Cars need oil. Pipes need cleaning. So, you buy pipe cleaners. End of story.
In the same way that the time between my car's oil changes seems ridiculously short, my supply of pipe cleaners seems to diminish at an alarming rate. I shouldn't be surprised though; it is, after all, my own fault. If you're anything like me and use a pipe cleaner after each bowl and, then, smoke a handful of pipes a day, it's no wonder the cleaners run out quickly. For that reason, I tend to buy them in bulk, which poses another problem: copious quantities of pipe cleaners.
In the same way that the time between my car's oil changes seems ridiculously short, my supply of pipe cleaners seems to diminish at an alarming rate.
Now, carrying loose, untethered pipe cleaners has been attempted before. I once saw a fellow pipesmoker load his front pocket with a dozen pipe cleaners only to find him later in the day distraught and besieged by said cleaners — like the demonic fowl in Alfred Hitchcock's The Birds, the pipe cleaners had poked holes through his slacks and hung tangled in his hair, his eyes glazed and his spirit forlorn. "I thought I could... contain them," he panted in fatigued resignation before mindlessly trying to light his pipe with one of the twisted cleaners.
In my own experience, I've slipped a handful of pipe cleaners into a pocket before, thinking minimalism and preparedness, my gain. However, I was met with painful jabs every time I sat down, and a bread crumb trail of wayward cleaners detailed my path throughout the day.
Enter Claudio Albieri's leather pipe cleaner holders.
Besides my Kiribi lighter and simple pipe nail tamper, the only smoking accessory I use every day, without fail, is one of Claudio Albieri's leather pipe cleaner holders — a russet-hued one, to be exact.
Free of shame, I don't rue the need for cleaners; they're not the "necessary evil" I once considered them.
Claudio's holders are the key to my being able to buy pipe cleaners in bulk yet not endure the chaos that is carrying loose pipe cleaners. I can store the cache in a drawer and simply refill the leather holder as needed once it runs low. Meanwhile, the holder slips neatly into a pocket or pipe bag, the rigid leather back retaining its form while the softer leather of the pocket tightly holds the pipe cleaners in place. I even insert a long tamper into the pouch alongside the cleaners just as a backup in case I misplace the other or a friend forgets their own.
These pipe cleaner holders go far beyond mere practicality, though, boasting supple, high-quality leather and sturdy stitching, all available in a number of stylish colors — from classic brown, tan, and black, to more striking blue, green, and even pink, the various colors allowing for personalization as well as differentiating various types of cleaners for easier accessibility.
Before using Albieri's holders, I spurned the use of pipe cleaners, always weighing the need to properly tend to my smoked pipes against the harsh reality of having to find a cleaner in the bottom of my pipe bag or withdraw one from my pocket, only to inadvertently drop eight or nine on the floor and fumble over myself as I stooped to pick them up. "Pardon my pipe cleaners; I'm a disorganized mess."
Now, though, they're all tucked neatly in the leather sleeve, quickly accessed and looking quite sharp as well. Plus, with the holder set in the middle of the table, the cleaners are easily shared between friends at Pipe Club meetings, a crude mound of gnarled pipe cleaners no longer the eyesore they once were. Traveling is made more convenient, and I no longer abhor going out with pipe cleaners in public. Free of shame, I don't rue the need for cleaners; they're not the "necessary evil" I once considered them — Claudio's pouches make pipesmoking more enjoyable as a whole. As far as "desert island" pipe tools and supplies go, Albieri's leather pipe cleaner holders are a necessity.