Tony Fillenwarth

“Pease has slipped a cog.” I can already hear the cries of disbelief from those who know my tastes. Though it's quite true that I'm not usually a fan of fanciful freehands, something about this pipe really grabbed me, and wouldn't let go. From first sight, I knew I had to add it to my collection. It's big and voluptuous, but graceful, almost whale-like, somehow oceanic. When I looked at more of Tony's work, I immediately recognized a natural, organic quality that runs through each piece. While a newcomer to the world of pipe making - at this writing, he's only been at it for about 18 months - he already shows a keen eye, an ability to read the briar, and to work very sympathetically with the wood. One has only to look at the beautiful birdseye that covers the top and rear of this example, at the fan of straight grain that defines the “tail&rdquo, to see that nature itself inspires his art. Tony's work is like that. Nothing seems forced or contrived, but, instead, it all seems to flow from the briar, from the form that hides within the wood, and from Tony's own whim. Freehand fans will love many of his pipes, for sure, but I think a lot of us with somewhat more conservative tastes will also appreciate their beauty, and may even find some of them asking for a home in our own racks. The workmanship is first-rate, with an effortless, open draught, perfect drilling, and a beautifully crafted cumberland stem. The smoking quality is also superb, with no bowl coating to interfere with the delightful taste of the excellent, well-cured briar during the first few bowls. Break-in has been a joy! I really like this pipe. It's a hsndfull, for sure, and not a pipe to clench, at least, not for any length of time, but perfect for an evening of relaxation with a good book. For a look at more of Tony's fascinating work, check out his own website. This is my first. I don't have to say that another will one day join it, do I?