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Talbert Briar #1901TB 

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 Price: $SOLD
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So here we are, to my complete amazement, with the first NEW Talbert Briar to be produced since 2016. It's been a long and stressful period, starting back then when both of my wife's parents fell and broke an arm each, then right through extended caregiving, dementia, a funeral, a couple hurricanes, and three surgeries for my wife. It is GOOD to be back in the workshop making my own pipes again. Ligne Bretagne sales kept us afloat these last three years, but they're not truly "my" pipes and at the end of the day, I was badly missing the creative freedom of starting with a blank block of briar... not to mention the greater budgetary freedom of being able to do better & more detailed work.

This pipe is a great example of that last bit - I initially worked out a new rustication technique I'm using, which I've dubbed "crosshatch", on several of our Ligne Bretagnes in applications that were pure rustication... Just jump in and carve. Here, I wanted to take the technique several steps further, by combining rustication and sandblasting to create an entirely new type of finish texture. It took forever. Indeed, one of the biggest factors determining whether I will make more of these is whether this one sells quickly, because the sheer labor time involved means the pipes need to cost a lot of money to be profitable to create. The finish that you see here has had several stages of sandblasting to define the grain and the natural age rings of the briar, and over that I've applied repeated overlapping stages of crosshatch carving. This involves no less than eight different carving tools of varying size and shape, and every single hatch mark on every single ring is cut in individually with interspersed stages of the different tools for a complex and engaging surface finish. The result is a dramatic and yet different sort of look, with the natural age ring pattern of a sandblast coupled with a wilder, more "savage" detailing that looks even better in real life than it does in photos.

Oh, and I should mention - Someone commented about it being done with a wire brush. Nope, no wire brushes involved here at all. They tend to leave too-linear marks, and are more prone to evenly grind the surface inwards instead of producing the textured grain look here. This was, unfortunately, WAY more labor-intensive than wire brushing.

Given that this is the first new Talbert Briar in years, I feel I should give a few more comments about what sets Talbert Briars apart. The briar, firstly, is the best quality wood that I have, and on average my Talbert plateau blocks have been sitting around drying for anywhere from 27 to 60 years prior to use. After drilling, the bowls are given several treatments to help improve their flavor and break-in. All Talbert stems are handcut from German rod stock - No stem blanks here. I file my bits thin in the Danish style, and utilize a deeply cut V-slot that evens out the air passage and allows easy passage of even extra-fluffy pipecleaners from bit to bowl. The goal is always a silent draw that's nearly effortless. While artistic quality is a driving force, the primary focus is on making a properly smoking machine.

This pipe should, I hope, be an ideal example of that philosophy. Weight-wise, it comes at the near ideal balance of just under 50 grams, which is light enough for easy clenching yet large enough to allow for thick walls and a good-sized bowl chamber. Just for fun and to celebrate the fact that this is the first new Talbert Briar in forever, plus the first Talbert done in a brand new finish, I also used a cutoff piece of briar from the same block to create a matching briar tamper for it. The tamping end is sized to match the bowl chamber and it's finished in the same crosshatch technique as the pipe. I should also add that the briar of the shank extension was cut from the same block, and I took care to match the grain on it with the grain of the shank (There's a close-up of this in the pics above).

Well, good heavens, I've written a book for this catalog entry, but it's nice to be back in business. Here's to a better 2019!