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2012 Talbert Halloween Pipe #1201H 

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 Price: $SOLD
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Click the currency icon at left to calculate estimated price in your currency. Taxes and shipping costs will be calculated during the check-out process. Non-US buyers are responsible for all customs fees incurred in their country. "Out of Stock" messages during check-out mean that the pipe has already sold, but I have not yet updated the catalog page to reflect its "Sold" status. All Halloween pipes ship fully insured for the cost of the item..

Shown below is the complete package that ships with this pipe:

The full package includes - The Halloween pipe, a custom pipe stand, a custom-sized and hand-dyed black leather Talbert bag with green interior and hand-painted skull beads, the original and working sketches of the pipe, and a crazy little green wrench thing that doesn't work very well (More on that later).

So here it is, the first Talbert Halloween pipe in a couple of years and the first of what I'm thinking of as a full restart to the series (More on that in this blog entry). What was the theme to this one? Utter, overt and subliminal nightmare. I didn't want it to be kitsch, silly, or cliche... I wanted to carve the most disturbing thing I could. I wanted it to be not merely intense to look at, but disturbing to hold and touch. I also wanted it to be a small masterpiece of internal, functional design. Critics, collectors, and fans can judge how successful I might have been with the aesthetics, which are heavily derived from bones, crustaceans, and scorpions. It isn't a direct carving of any one thing, but it's representational of all sorts of basic human fears - The poisonous thing that might be under the bed, the furtive movement that slips behind the dresser just when you turn on the light, the raw predator that exists entirely for the hunt. I love the basic question of the shape - Is something ON the pipe, gripping it, or is it the pipe itself? This is what I consider "A lovely sort of hideous".

Now, to the specifics of the piece. For starters, it is a single piece of briar - All of the surface detail is hand-carved from the wood (No easy feat, given the hardness of briar), except for the stem and the small clawed "tail stinger", which is separate for reasons of function. The surface is stained in a mottled variety of tones from green to gloss black, in my attempt to give it some range of color while keeping the overall look quite dark. This did not help my photography, as the front shows off some bird's-eye which proved too dark to ever get a decent photo of.

Aside from its visual detail and complexity, the internals of the pipe are also quite unusual. The airway moves from the bowl back into the base section, which is hollow and lined with a handmade, open expansion chamber made from white Somali meerschaum. It's very porous stuff and much better at soaking up condensate from the expanding smoke than briar itself. The expansion chamber is topped with a wide mortise to make it easy to swab out, and lined with a brass strengthening ring to guard against cracking.

For simple, regular cleaning, it can be cleaned as follows. Bend a slight angle into your pipe cleaner as shown:

The cleaner can be run through the airhole from the bowl side into the expansion chamber, as seen below:

This makes it quite simple to clean after each smoke, despite the unusual design. Over time, as cake builds in the airhole between bowl and chamber, the airhole can be easily reamed out by removing the tail claw and running a straight bit or other tool through from base to bowl.

Shown in the above photo is a small green mottled ebonite "wrench" that I made to ease the loosening of the tail claw, which is small and hard to get one's fingers around. It works, but not great - In the end, the round shape of the claw is too round to catch well in the custom wrench opening, and it's simpler just to grip the claw between padded plier jaws and twist it out. I'd hoped I'd made a clever solution with this tool, but in reality it's probably closer to something that will just get lost after the owner gets better results from regular old pliers. C'est la vie! Can't win them all, and sometimes the simplest tools do work better.

I should mention that the pipe stand is made from the outer slicing of a full briar burl - There are a couple of photos of it up among the pipe's pictures. It's about an inch-thick cut from a burl exterior, with natural pointy "hide" on the back side and a sandblasted interior side. The pipe slides easily onto a steel rod that extends into the stem through the bit slot to support the entire pipe. Together, they make an impressive showpiece and should add a pleasant note of crawling horror to any display shelf.

And that's that. I hope you've enjoyed looking at the photos, and to steal a line from Elvira, "UNpleasant dreams..."