For his party Tom didn’t send out formal invitations. He announced via his website that anyone who wished to celebrate with him was welcome to attend the party.

It thus took only a few phone calls between Italian pipemaker friends to organise the event, with Mimmo Romeo at the lead, naturally.

Foto 1 articolo Tom 

I had seen Tom at the Chicago pipe show this year, though we didn’t introduce. He is too important for an unknown person like me, I told myself – a silly hesitation that haunts the neophyte in front of the “sacred monster”. Maybe it was also for this reason that I wrote, in an article on the Chicago pipe show, that the Danish masters had seemed to me “cold and uptight” – a way to hide my beginner embarrassment.

But the world of pipes, as I’ve written on other occasions, is a Parallel Universe. So much that both Tom and Pia have accepted my life partner Mary and me with kindness and courtesy, as if we had always belonged to the world of pipemakers. There were no long talks between us, only a few words of hello and embarrassed thanks for small gifts brought from Sicily. On the other hand the generous warmth of welcome is in the air; it doesn’t need words: a smile, a gesture are enough. I will quote Tom with a frequent response he gives to Vincenzo, a young Sicilian pipemakers, because it sheds light on the kind of person that Tom is: “The name is not important – he says – but only the pipe itself. Is it beautiful? In that case it is okay, even if it is made by a completely unknown craftsman.”

 Foto 3 articolo Tom

The 40 years of work he has behind him, not to mention the quality of his pipes, can account for the rationality of his work space. Everything is in the right place and at the correct height, including the table where he spends hours sitting on an ergonomic chair, as if it were the throne of a king.

There were around 100 of us at the party, nearly all pipemakers from the old Europe, United States and the new Asia, and a dealer friend getting ready to leave the next day for the fair in Dortmund. The friendly and informal atmosphere that characterises meetings of pipemakers was heightened thanks to the large pig that gave his life in honour of the event. A big pot of chili con carne was simmering alongside the enormous grill that cooked the poor animal while Pia was preparing salads, potatoes, bread, cheese and other delicacies.

 Foto 2 articolo Tom

The afternoon passed quickly amongst the sounds of chatter mingled with the smells of roast, high quality tobacco and chili spices. While munching on pork I looked around and was amazed to behold the dynamics of this small environment of craftsmen who love to share their joy for the work they do.

“It’s good to be a pipe maker”, Tom posted on his website and on a large banner hanging in his workshop. And I understand that it is no wonder, because it’s all in that simple sentence. The night settled slowly upon us, bringing with it the cold winds of the North. Only a few of us stick around until midnight. Those who left early, missed out some wonderful hot dogs grilled on the remaining coals.

A final beer, a warm hug to last until the next visit, perhaps in Chicago the next year, and away in a taxi that will bring us to the hotel. The trip from Sicily to Copenhagen is long and tiring, but it was worth it.

 Foto 4 articolo Tom

Thank you Tom. Thank you Pia.

Until next Time.

Other photo here.

Some videoclip here: 1 2 3