A Silly Millimeter

26th May, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

For a long time, now, I’ve been working on pipes, when necessary, to improve airflow, smoking characteristics, moisture accumulation in the shank and stem, and so on. I have adopted, from my old race motor building days, the phrase “Polishing and Porting” to paint something of a picture of what these pipe modifications can entail. The comparison between a great pipe and a racing motor is not really that far-fetched. Read more…»

Matching Pipes and Tobaccos—Part 2

5th April, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes, Enjoyment, Technique

Read Matching Pipes and Tobaccos—Part 1.

A friend of mine dedicates every new pipe to a specific tobacco. I applaud his rigorous bookkeeping, somewhat retentive attention to detail, and his dedication to methodology, but I’ve always wondered if he’s really getting the most out of his experience, or winding up selling some of his pipe and tobacco choices short. How do we know, at the start, what tobaccos will work best with a given pipe? I wish there was some sort of metric, as the process of discovery can sometimes fill a great deal of time. Read more…»

Bad Bedfellows

2nd February, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

I’ve written in the past about those special combinations of briar and leaf that, together, seem to work some sort of magic. With just the right tobacco, a great pipe can deliver an almost transcendent smoking experience. Read more…»

Dogs that Bite

24th January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

I often hear about tobaccos that bite, yet rarely is this quality attributed to a pipe, however much it may be deserved. I’ve had pipes that would take the smoothest tobacco on the planet, and render it unsmokable, turning its smoke into a bite-sized version of a nuclear reactor meltdown on my tongue. No amount of “breaking-in” of these pipes has ever cured them of their nasty temperament. Of course, there are tobaccos that can transform the most mild-mannered pipe into Lucifer’s eternal oven, and we’ve all experienced one or two of those, but, rarely is a pipe blamed for the phenomenon of “bite.” It’s always the tobacco. Read more…»

Not Just a Piece of Wood

13th January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

I’ve had a lot of pipes over the years; an uncountable number, really. They come and go, are traded and bartered, smoked for a while, then passed on to their next caretaker. Sometimes, it seems like my collection is more of a temporary home for itinerant pipes than a real collection, though there is certainly a core that remains intact. It’s been a great way to explore most of the better known brands, as well as a few that have never quite risen from the shadows of obscurity. Some have been great, some dreadful, and most have fallen somewhere in between. I’ve had pipes that articulated the subtlest nuances of a complexly orchestrated blend with perfect, harmonious balance, and others that were so bland they would suck the life out of the most flavorful of weeds. Read more…»

There’s Something About Old Pipes

10th January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

The aggregation of pipes that I refer to as my collection, though it lacks any sort of cohesiveness that should be present if the title were to fit it accurately, can be loosely divided into two categories - those that I purchased new and unsmoked, and, the larger part, those that I acqired as “estate” pipes. It’s the latter category that has my attention tonight. As I write this, I’m smoking a rather old GBD bent rhodesian. The pipe is lovely in every way. Though it lacks the spectacular straight grain of today’s high-grades, though it’s internal construction may not be as precise or as perfect as that of a modern marvel of briar, it is nevertheless wonderfully cut, comfortable in the hand and between the teeth, made from beautiful wood with wild flames of grain, and nary a sandpit. It is classic and timeless in its shape. I smokes delightfully. Further, it possess something truly special, something that is not, can not be duplicated by any of today’s pipes. It is old. Read more…»

How Does it Smoke?

7th January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

What are we really talking about when we discuss how a pipe smokes? A pipe is at least two things. Functionally, it is a vessel in which we burn tobacco, but it is also the vehicle through which the flavor of our tobacco is delivered. We tend to stuff these two aspects of a pipe’s smoking qualities into one box, treating them almost interchangably, though they really deserve separate investigation. Of course, to many, importantly, a pipe is not only an object of function, but also one of art, satisfying a desire for aesthetic beauty, but that is a different topic, perhaps for exploration at a later date. Read more…»

Used - Not Abused

2nd January, 2004: Posted by glpease in Pipes

This morning, I received a pipe in the post. I’d placed a bid on Ebay, and was fortunate to “win” the pipe, a wonderful old Castello Sea Rock being sold by a delightful woman named Dierdre for her father. It’s a large piece, a G, shape 34 - a beautiful slightly bent Dublin, with a smooth, wavy top, a red pearlized acrylic mouthpice, sporting the once more common “diamond”, indicating the pipe’s destination for US shores. My first reaction upon looking at the pipe was, “My GOD! How could anyone treat such a nice pipe like that?” There was too much cake in the bowl, cracked and chipping, and crawling over the bowl’s edge. The top was coated with hardened carbon and tar, fully occluding the beautiful red-stained wood that graced the pipe when it was new. The stem, while not chewed, did have a couple of toothmarks, and was rather grimy. The overall appearance of the finish was more gray than black. Read more…»

Duckling into Swan

12th December, 2003: Posted by glpease in Pipes

This is the story of the transformation of a pipe. Perhaps the title is a little misleading. The pipe was never ugly. In fact, it is, and always has been, quite lovely, but beneath that beautiful skin beat a heart as black as the cake I scraped from its capacious bowl. Read more…»

Matching Pipes and Tobaccos—Part 1

1st December, 2003: Posted by glpease in Pipes, Enjoyment, Technique

For quite a while, I’ve been attempting to discover some rhyme and reason for why some tobaccos just seem to “work” better in some pipes than others. At first, I looked to the conventional wisdom of my pipe smoking brethren to find answers. “Flakes are better in small pipes.” “Latakia blends are best smoked in larger bowls.” What I found there was a lot of disagreement, both amongst the folklore I collected, and within the context of my own experiences. I had to seek further to find the key to this particular mystery. I attempted to forget everything I thought I knew about the subject, and set out anew. Read more…»

Dangerous Beauty

28th November, 2003: Posted by glpease in Pipes

There are pipes in my collection that are not the greatest smokers in the world, yet they somehow draw me to continue reaching for them. Something about them whispers in my ear, “Just one more bowl, and I’ll be all that you want me to be.” These pipes manage to seduce me into smoking them again, and again, and again, singing their siren’s song from the rack each time I sail by, until I buckle, succumbing to the sweet melody. Every time, it’s the same. I take the pipe, admire its form, its beauty, its wood, its construction. I choose a tobacco, and prepare for the rites. Read more…»

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