Once upon a time the warriors, and other elites, of certain societies displayed their prestige by wearing jewelry made of iron. Far more recently in human history, aluminum was once as valuable as silver — which was what led to the pointy end of the Washington Monument being made out of it. And going in the completely opposite direction, bamboo was once something pipe makers stuck on pipes just so that they'd use up less briar.
Things change; the place bamboo holds in the pipe world certainly did. That change started with Sixten, and has been carried on and refined since then. Today we find that in a high-end artisanal pipe, bamboo is, more often than not, not simply integrated into the design and aesthetics of a shape, but one of its central, principle themes. In other words, bamboo has become something the finest pipemakers often design pipes around. Just as they'll pick up a special block of plateau briar and visualize the shapes they could get out of it, they'll pick up a particularly choice section of bamboo and imagine the shape they could pair with it.
One of the things this leads to is us asking a dozen-plus of the most prominent American pipemakers active today to produce, on special commission, one design each — the only specification being that each pipe utilizes bamboo. They agreed, and they provided. And today we have them ready and waiting; one special pipe each by Florov, Davidson, Cannoy, Klein, Prevost, J&J, Armentrout, Pohlmann, Herbaugh, J. Alan, Nate King, Weaver, and Markle.
How are they for variety? Well, as expected when you give thirteen creative types independent missions with only a single guideline, the approaches cover a great deal of ground.
A briar long and delicately trim? Try the Prevost or Herbaugh. A similarly slender idea, but pocket-sized and shaped from meerschaum? Cannoy's has got that. Gestural and sculptural? Have a look at the Davidson Pitcher, Florov Cavalier, Klein Pierced Blowfish, or Pohlmann Speared Fish. Like something gently curving, softly formed of bowl, but also extra-knuckley in the bamboo? Take a take a gander at the J.Alan. Something more neoclassical-Danish, but with an American-style sandblast? Armentrout. The same, but hold the sandblast? Nate King. Perhaps a taste of something stout? J&J and Ernie Markle just happen to have that in, each of theirs built around pale, broad, and smooth buddha bamboo. An Apple with wings, as unlikely as that may seem? Bruce Weaver has just the thing.
See them all in today's special update.
Tagged in: Abe Herbaugh Adam Davidson Alex Florov Brad Pohlmann Bruce Weaver Ernie Markle J. Alan J and J Nate King Nathan Armentrout Pete Prevost Pipe Culture Pipe Makers Pipe Making Scott Klein Walt Cannoy