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Ligne Bretagne Pipe #1719lb

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There's quite a bit of story behind this one! In fact, it's possible that this may be a Unique in the literal sense, as in, "This is the only one there is." This bowl shape came within a hair's breadth of being our 2016 Yule Pipe design. I loved the shape, it was unusual and different, I liked the panel variation on the bulldog-like bowl, and it had that vague whiff of the Victorian about it that I like for a good Yule Pipe. Emily had this undrilled, roughed bowl in her box of "interesting shapes" and it was the only one of its kind there. I asked her where she'd found it in our stock and she couldn't remember, as she picked out her "interesting box" years ago. So, we both went out and dug through our Ligne Bretagne stock and completely failed to find ANY more of this shape. That brought the Yule Pipe plans to a halt right there, since we always try to make sure we have at least twice as many of any given shape as we need for a series, in case of flaws or human screw-ups.

So, I went ahead and drilled the thing back in December and then set the bowl in MY "interesting box" and forgot all about it for a few months while we moved my father-in-law in and out of the hospital and I worked on backorders. When this month rolled around and I needed a bit of extra cash to live on while I continue to polish off the backorders, it seemed an ideal piece to finish up quickly and post.

Of course, if I could do anything the easy way I'd be relaxing in a hammock in the Caribbean right now... The pipe had really striking grain, very strong, and I decided I wanted to try an idea that had been buzzing round my head for a while, namely, a green-based contrast stain. I don't mean black under a green topcoat, I mean a deep green-tinted black in the grain that fades out to natural briar. I thought it would make an ideal finish for this pipe, since it dodges all the usual problems associated with green stains - namely, that with the highlights being natural briar, there would be no worries of the green rubbing off of all the panel edges, turning brown, etc. The pipe would darken naturally, with the bare briar parts going browner and the grain going darker green.

This ended up requiring a huge amount of careful buffing and sanding control, as the opaque green wanted to stay that way and every edge on the pipe represented a great opportunity to make a bald highlight. I could have made another pipe from scratch in the time it took just to finish the staining on this, and because of that it's unique in another way than its shape - This is the last time this contrast stain effect will be seen on a Ligne Bretagne, it will be Talbert Briar-only from here on due to the labor time. I do think it was worth it, though. I'm not sure I've ever even seen a pipe with a green & natural contrast stain like this, and while I'm sure it won't be to some folks' taste, I really like it.