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Ligne Bretagne Pipe #2003lb

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Starting off the year on the funky side - We've got a bunch of these shapes in the works now, in all finishes. We haven't done a lot of these in the past because it can be a difficult shape to drill and render. Neither the oval shanks nor the oval stems will fit properly into any of our shank chucks, for instance, so there's more custom work involved than usual. However, one thing I want to return to this year is the time-saving habit of doing Ligne Bretagnes in shape groups, meaning a bunch of one shape all at once, then another. I picked these to start with because I love them for their sheer oddity - It's almost a Ukulele-type design, with that wide, broad shank (nearly as wide as the bowl) flowing smoothly from bowl down to bit. This produces a pipe with a pair of virtues. It's short in length, making it easy to transport, yet the bowl chamber and capacity is one of the larger among all the Ligne Bretagne shapes.

This particular pipe also represents another step in my personal quest for the ideal "Near Black" finish, something I've been chasing for a number of years. The goal is simple - a pipe that's almost solid black, but smooth, and which still shows off the grain pattern of the wood in a very dark and understated fashion. It's not really possible with stain because the process of final sanding and polishing will normally remove more of the stain than is ideal, and yet if you leave a blacker stain topcoat, it will just end up rubbing off on the owner's fingers with handling. Some companies opt for a solid black coating but my goal is a mostly-black finish topped only with wax. Once I started working deeply with natural wood darkening techniques, I was able to carry the look to where it is now - The entire pipe exterior is darkened to an opaque matte black, then VERY carefully massaged back with some specialized sandpapers for the finish you see above. I think it's a marvelous look, particularly on the bird's-eye-covered front (see the upside-down photos above), but as usual, the real question is whether anyone ELSE will like it. As ever, sales will determine how many more like this are made.