Pipes by Jack Howell
I shared a bit of my table space with Jack at the 2004 Chicago show, affording me a good opportunity to look his pipes over carefully. I was quite impressed with what I saw. The sandblast 1/8 bent rhodesian pictured below kept calling to me, and I just couldn't let it get away! Jack had also brought with him an old, sealed tin of Fool's Cap, a tobacco I had produced under the Friedman & Pease banner back in 1998. He graciously allowed me to pull the lid, and fill my new pipe from this rare tin. What a treat! The first bowl smoked easily and cleanly. In fact, that first experience caused me to immediately dedicate the pipe to Virginias, and I've not regretted the decision for one second. It's a wonderful smoking pipe, demonstrating Jack's excellent grasp of both theory and practice when it comes to “getting it right” with respect to airway execution. It's delightful to hold, and exquisitely comfortable between the teeth. All in all, it's become a favorite smoker.
The fit and finish of Jack's pipes is very good, and his shapes are starting to reveal his own sense of style. The pipes he had in Chicago were nice, for sure, but observing what he's been doing since the show gives the impression that he was truly inspired by his experience. (I had my eye on my second example of Jack's craft, but was too slow in pulling the trigger. Now, I have to wait for the next one to grab my eye, but I suspect I won't be waiting too long...) In addition to being one of the new American pipe makers, Jack is a professional orchestral musician, teacher of music (must be how he gets his pipes to sing so well), flyrod maker and a damn good writer. Quite a talented fellow! On top of all that, he's a hell of nice guy. You can see more of his work, learn more about him, and even buy a pipe on his own web site.
My first Howell - a lovely little slightly bent rhodesian with a deceptively capacious bowl. A wonderful Virginia pipe! The stem application is a beautiful ivory micarta, an excellent, durable material often found on the scales of some hand-made knives.
This is one of Jack's more recent pieces. I was very fortunate to see early “progress” photos of this beauty, and fell for it. My first reaction, the word that sprung to mind, was “breathaking.” Jack has managed, here, to take two neoclassical concepts, the volcano and the eskimo, and merge them seamlessly into something new, and something uniquely his own. The pipe is a masterpiece in every sense. Surprisingly, it's also very comfortable to hold. Not surprisingly, it smokes beautifully.
This is one I was fortunate to get from Mike Glukler through his Briar Blues website. I was immediately struck by it's elegance and grace, and the stemwork forms a lovely counterpoint to the delicate curves of the Danish inspired egg-shaped bowl. Yet another example of Jack's exquisite eye and cultivated skills.