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Talbert Ring-Grain Acorn #1605T 

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 Price: $SOLD
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After doing several short and fat pipes in a row, I wanted to do something long and slinky. The result is this very long-shanked ring-grained Acorn, a sort of "6/5th scale" Danish style done larger, with the sort of nicely craggy blast that I'm known for and a few other surprises besides.

During the years I was in France (So many of my odd stories start off with this intro, it's ridiculous... I feel like the crew of the Enterprise beginning everything they say with, "When we were on our 5 year mission..."), I had the chances to buy a great variety of unusual working materials aside from all the morta we cut. One of those materials was this stem rod - 1930's-era swirled cumberland rod stock. I found a handful of rods of different colors and bought them all, and have been parceling them out very slowly ever since because there's literally "no more where that came from". It's high quality ebonite material, designed for high-end pens originally, but fully suitable for handcut pipe stems as well. I've found it to polish to a high gloss and retain its color excellently, without the "insta-greening" effect one finds with so many ebonite stems. I'll be sad when it's all gone because it's beautiful and unusual stuff, with colors and patterns that can't be found on the market now.

I also enjoyed working on this stem for the change of pace from the resin stems I've done recently. They require the bit to be left a little thicker due to their lack of inherent flexibility, but this ebonite can be filed wonderfully thing and it was a pleasure to be shaping a nice ribbon-thin bit again. Despite the thin profile, it will pass an extra-fluffy cleaner easily, from bit to bowl, and is quite comfortable in the teeth, both in feel and weight (67 grams might seem heavy but it feels quite light in the hand, and it's important to keep in mind the size of the bowl, which is easily ODA). The stem is decorated with a natural horn extension which also shows some subtly beautiful grain and color variation.

Speaking of the size, I should point out that it's not a quick smoke - It's a deep bowl with thick walls that's designed to smoke for a whole evening, so fans of smaller bowls should probably steer clear of this one.

Despite the unique and unusual stem and the extra trimmings, it's the sandblast that's the real star of the show here. I took care to center the grain going in, meaning that the rings are perfectly stacked up the bowl and the acorn shape tapers down to a central pointed age ring on the bottom. The grain on this is TIGHT, with every age ring packed together in dense formation. I left the natural plateau on the rim and shank end, then applied a three-stage staining process using a base coat, a thinner, darker top coat to make the recesses stand out stronger, and finally careful detailing across the outer edges to maximize the highlight impact. The effect is particularly good on the plateau top - Check out the rim photos above, particularly the one in the bottom row, for a great view of a great bowl top.

As with the others I've done recently, I snapped some shots for our Instagram page while I was working on it, so here is a little "Making Of" for the pipe...

To start, the handcut stem is drilled and turned from the 80+ year old rod stock:

Shaped, filed, and polished:

This pipe required a big plateau block with a wide, curved plateau top, one which carried all the way down to provide plateau for the shank end as well as the rim:

Roughed and fitted with stem!

And finally, shaped and treated with its first application of stain: