German carver Werner Mummert pushes the boundaries of pipe making and continuously experiments with shaping, color palettes, and alternative materials. His distinctive designs showcase a penchant for the avant-garde while retaining excellent engineering and are highly functional smoking instruments. Though certainly a skilled craftsman, Mummert could be more aptly described as an artist or sculptor, but instead of painting or stone, his medium is pipe making. He excels at imbuing every shape with his easily recognizable style. The carver's innovative work is perhaps best defined by his signature shapes, the most famous of which are below:
Aptly named, Mummert's Barrel design is defined by a cylindrical stummel with no clear delineation between bowl and shank. Its tubular shape is reminiscent of a massive cigar while retaining the chamber, airway, and stem of a traditional pipe. Mummert often fashions the Barrel with an internal reverse Calabash chamber, ensuring a cooler, drier smoke, and dresses the design in a myriad of finishes, ranging from the colorful Deco finish to a more traditional sandblast. The minimalism of the shape makes it a favorite among collectors, as it embodies pure functionality and offers a wholly unique presentation.
Reverse Calabash Poker
While Mummert's signature Poker retains the shape's traditional cylindrical bowl and flattened heel, the rest of the design is innovatively constructed. Mummert forgoes the trim shank typically associated with the Barrel in favor of a reverse Calabash chamber composed of heat-resistant, tempered glass, enabling onlookers to view the swirling smoke inside. The glass is extremely sturdy and flavor-neutral, so there is no need to worry that the material will shatter or impart an undesirable flavor to the smoke. The German artisan fashions this shape in different configurations, but he often affixes the shank to the bowl with a pair of attractive metal springs for easy removal and cleaning.
Mummert fashions the Bulldog shape with a crisp, dramatic angularity that lends the design a fierce profile and a geometric appearance. Like the other pipes on this list, the exact proportions and finishes of the design vary greatly, whether compact or hearty, sandblasted or smooth, colorful or understated, but each rendition is unified by firm, pronounced lines, a sharply defined, V-shaped heel, and an architectural aesthetic. Though highly structural in presentation, the design tends to be quite streamlined and possessed of a forward-driving momentum that further accentuates the pointed, angular nature of the shape.
Mummert is known for crafting pipes that double as optical illusions, and perhaps no design better demonstrates that talent than his rendition of the Apple shape. When viewed in profile, the shank rises to the height of the bowl and appears flat and muscular, nearly hiding the rounded edges of the bowl. However, when viewed from below or above, the shank reveals itself to be a flaring V-shape and the bowl appears more full-bodied and rotund. Either-way, the shape is eye-catching and wonderfully displays Mummert's innovative design sensibility. Just as striking as the shaping are the crisp sandblasts that often dress the German carver's Apple design, the horizontally expanding shank and thick bowl acting as the perfect canvas for the rugged finish to truly pop.
Along with his signature shapes, Mummert also has a couple of signature finishes. The Deco finish is Werner's tribute to the Art Deco movement, and it offers a technicolor palette and a modern sensibility to any shape it adorns. His other finish, which the carver simply calls Rust, is fascinating in appearance and execution. Mummert coats the briar in an acrylic paint that contains fine iron particles. He then treats the finish with a liquid that catalyzes the oxidation process and causes the iron to corrode before applying a preservative oil to halt that process. The end result is a striking, rust-hued look and a stimulating texture.
Werner Mummert can always be counted on to explore new, creative ways to craft pipes, and his endless drive to fashion the perfect pipe and innovate are what makes his work so distinctly Mummert.
Do you own any of Mummert's signature shapes? Have a favorite? Let us know in the comments down below!