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Talbert Nightmare Blowfish #1301H

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 Price: $SOLD
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Season's Greetings! And here we are with the first of the 2013 Talbert Halloween pipes. It's a bit historical - This is only the second pipe to be stamped with my new "Talbert Halloween" stamp (See the Grading page and my Pipe Blog post on the subject from last year, for more info). Amusingly, I had to stamp it on the underside of the stem, too, as the shape of the pipe left no suitable space for stamping! I hope to do several Halloween pipes this year, at least as many as I have time for. The concept for this was simple - Take a blowfish shape and make it disturbing. I wanted to keep the basic shape and visual layout identifiable, yet give the whole thing a decidedly organic and coiled character, making it feel as close to being alive as I could manage. The end result is a thing of wicked beauty, in my opinion at least, and ideal in that it's both visually dynamic and extravagant and yet also a completely practical and conventional layout "under the skin". Nice bowl wall thickness, it fits the hand really well, it offers a large bowl chamber, easy pipecleaner passage from bit to bowl, and in general makes no concessions in terms of function to its very unusual aesthetics.

The pipe began here, with this simple sketch:

This is an amusingly enlarged drawing - The actual sketch is about an inch long. I tend to do very small design sketches these days because the size makes it easier to spot the strongest visual elements... Larger drawings can get bogged down in minute details but keeping the pic tiny helps force me to focus only on the "swoop" of the shape, what's the most eye-catching about the idea. In this case, it was the curved shank emerging from the bowl and extending through an enfolding, wrap-around tendril. Armed with nothing more than this tiny, simple doodle, I went to work and produced the pipe you see above. Followers of our Twitter and Facebook accounts have seen many more photos of this pipe in process, which I've been posting over the course of September. Check out those pages if you're curious to see a lot more "in process" photos like this one.

So, details... The stem is black German ebonite, handcut, and the decorative wood insert in the stem is polished maple burl. The shank and bowl are all from one piece of briar, but the shank and rear bowl inset section has been sandblasted (and that was quite a masking job, I can tell you!). Some very careful staining and detailing later, it produced the striking color and texture contrast of the finished bowl. The smooth bowl shows off some excellent bird's-eye in cross-grain, and is unstained - I merely gave it a mild rubbing with some natural oil to bring out a bit more contrast and depth in the grain, and to help the color ultimately match the bag. The bag is hand-sewn by my wife, unique to this year's Halloween pipes, and features a silky black lining and tea-stained skull bead adornments. Also, it's a perfect color match for the pipe - Check out the photos of the two together and see how the oranges, blacks and tans all harmonize between pipe and bag. I know most pipe bags get immediately tossed into drawers and forgotten, but I hope this one gets displayed alongside the pipe itself, as they make an ideal complimentary pairing.