Biz Stuff – I posted a pile of new Talbert Briars and a pile of new Talbert Mortas to the site. Some of them have already sold to folks on our email list, but there are still some excellent pieces available. As I write this, Morta Classic #89 seems to be sold also. The two to really have, however, are the Talbert Briar “Fantasy Calabash” and the TB Gold Dublin, which is ideal for fans of larger-bowled featherweight pipes. Also, the Gold Dublin is a perfect example of the staining techniques I discussed in the last blog entry.

Today’s pic is a preview of soon-to-be-posted pipes – A Ligne Bretagne Collector churchwarden and an ODA-sized Talbert Briar.

I’ve meant to write a blog article on pipe superstitions, and specifically pipeMAKING superstitions, for some time. I get reminded of this every time I go hunting through the workshop for our green magic marker, so I can mark a drill bit’s stop-depth. Yes, ’tis true… I am in many ways horrendously superstitious about my craft. Let me count the ways…

The Green Pen: Green has been my favorite color since I was a child. Later, when I got into painting, I read a good bit on color theory and color psychology as it pertained to human moods. Green feels natural – It’s the color of grass and freedom and creativity, and every artist could do worse than to surround themselves with green “stuff”. In my case, I have the Green Pen always on hand. It’s a Sharpie permanent marker that I use to do, well, nearly everything… I draw rough pipe outlines on blocks with it and I do ALL of my drill bit marking with it. I do mean all. I will hunt the workshop for hours looking for the green marker, eschewing a can full of black, blue, and red markers, all because I have developed this pathological idea that if I mark my bit depths in green, the drilling will be good, but other colors are likely to go astray. This is only reinforced by the fact that the green markings nearly always DO come out ideally. Obviously, this works. The green pen has a companion, also –

The Green Pencil: I have a green technical drawing pencil that I use sometimes to sketch out pipe designs in advance. I don’t want to use anything but this pencil. With this pencil, I have done the vague, barely identifiable scribbles that went on to become all of my most popular pipes. I’ve got a box full of a good hundred pencils of all shapes and sizes. I use one.

Beware of Doctor Mood Swing: I’m very sensitive to my own moods when I work on pipes. I have the vague, unpleasant fear that if I work on a pipe in a bad mood, that feeling will somehow transfer into the pipe itself, and it will become a bad pipe. This makes daily work oodles of fun, given the usual sorts of bother and irritation that we face in normal life. But, I’ve adapted and overcome via the wonders of work shuffling – If I start getting really annoyed by a particular pipe, I go and do a billiard (or other classical shape). This has become a mantra of our workshop: “Go make a billiard.” The reason is that I don’t invest emotion into classical shapes. I eye them carefully and pay close attention to keeping them balanced and as visually elegant as I can, but they don’t bear the weight of, “Will this end up looking stupid?” that original freehands carry. They’re guaranteed. I KNOW the end result will be attractive and practical, so I can work without stressing, which gets me back into a better frame of mind, so I can then return to working on the difficult freehand that isn’t quite sure where it’s going yet. In my mind, there is a firm chain of connection: Good Attitude > Good Work > Good Pipes.

The Lathe Cutter wants to Kill Me: Most of the other tools in the shop view me with either benign indifference or annoyance that I haven’t oiled them lately, but my drawer full of metal cutting tools all want to kill me. Or at least maim as badly as possible. I’m positively paranoid about always removing the cutting tools from the metal lathe’s tool post when I’m not using them, because in my experience, if I leave a sharp tool in the post, I will be tugging on something or twisting something or otherwise engaged, and as if by magic, my hand will slip off and wham into the cutting tool for a new slice. This will happen even if I’m on the opposite side of the workshop – I’m convinced that I could be draining the compressor and if my hand slipped, I’d be dragged a solid fifteen feet until I slammed it on the tool post.

I think that’s enough for now…

Categories: Pipe Blog


Kurt · September 27, 2007 at 9:41 pm

I suspect the bandsaw. It has recently developed the ability to walk in halting, yet rapid fashion. A little like a zombie on crystal meth….

Anonymous · September 27, 2007 at 5:47 pm

That’s bad, though, because if nothing is currently trying to kill you, that just means that something unknown in your shop is currently eyeing you, waiting and planning…

Kurt · September 27, 2007 at 1:23 pm

I don’t know if you read the drill bit posting I made on the pipemakers forum, but the reason I spent so much time on that damnable bit was because it’s my FAVORITE. The sad fact is, I would sooner have blamed my lathe than the drill bit, even though I’ve been using the same bit for nearly 5 years.

I do all my sketches with a Koh-I-Noor lead holder that I’ve owned for upwards of 20 years – ever since I first started (but never finished) architecture school.

Nothing in my shop wants to kill me though. At least not that I can tell….

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