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Estate 2007 Talbert Briar Billiard, Golden Ratio 

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 Price: $SOLD
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The quick story - I've recently gotten hold of a large cache of my older pipes as part of a generous gift to help us pay my wife's cancer surgery expenses. Over the next weeks, I'll be gradually posting them as I get them cleaned, inspected, etc. Many of these pipes are NEW and UNSMOKED and have been part of a display collection, sometimes for as much as 20 years!

When you've been carving for a while, it's as easy to get into a rut as in any other job - You master the basics and learn the straightest path to a goal and before you know it, you've done the same thing fifty times. I believe it's crucial to "shake yourself up" regularly, and this was one of those times because - while it might look like any typical billiard - there were two factors that made this pipe different. One, I was shaping it by hand, and not turning it... which is nuts on a shape like this, because turning gets you automatic round bowls and trying to achieve the same thing by eyeball takes 10X longer and a lot more patience. But, on the plus side, it helps keep the eye in practice since you really have to pay attention to the most subtle curves of the shape. The result has a distinctly handmade feel and look that sets it apart from turned bowls - Some of the way the bowl walls curve wouldn't quite be possible if they'd been turned, for instance, though it's likely that most people will never notice or care about this stuff.

The other thing that makes this unusual is that I wanted to try and shape the whole pipe according to the Golden Ratio of design. The Golden Ratio is a fundamental building block of shapes that are pleasing to the eye, going back hundreds of years, and I wanted to see what a classical billiard would look like if cut to this spec. This is what it produced:

It's a little thicker than the usual billiard, with a chunkier shank, but I think it turned out well. I made the pic above to illustrate the idea for a forum post back in 2007.

The stem is handcut cumberland and the shank band is solid brass. A sensible carver would have done that the sensible way, by getting two brass discs and sandwiching them around a smaller brass ring that would be carved separate form the smooth pieces, but I did it the dumb way and cut the whole thing as a solid piece, then turned the center section down and used fine rustication tools to get in there and hand-carve the brass surface to that rough texture, while trying like mad to not slip and chew up the edges of the smooth ring sections.

 

I've done a few tweaks to the pipe since it arrived back here. The bit has been thinned down, narrowed a touch, and the V-slot has been deepened. Here below is the initial photo set of the pipe form our 2007 website catalog, for anyone interested in comparing the pipe's original condition with it currently. It's been smoked but I've restored it pretty close to new again.