Process 

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Which is the best working process? The right answer is all, as long as, in compliance with the basic technical rules, the final product gives pleasure to the smoker and, at the same time, can convey the manufacturer’s identity.

Inevitably, at the beginning the choice of the process mainly depends on the school  where one has grown up. However, although today I prefer to drill on the lathe, probably I’ll not work that way for ever.  For a craftsman, to learn new things from different schools has always to be a fascinating experience, otherwise he ends up making always the same tiny golden fishes, as Aureliano Buendia did in One Hundred Years of Loneliness.

For me, the creative process begins on a comfortable sofa drawing shapes, details or whole pipes. I consider this time as an essential premise of the action that will stem from it: to get the imagination off the ground.

Once a good number of projects is gathered, I begin to choose the suitable blocks. Imagination is still in action, since I have to “see” the future grains of my pipe, in my opinion one of the most difficult steps in the whole process that distinguishes the great Masters from all the others. I saw that, to design a pipe, somebody takes inspiration from the shape of the briar-root and from its grains: the pipe is shaped from the block reducing the waste of material to the bare minimum. This ability is a gift or a skill that needs many years of practice to be acquired, but shows anyhow the great respect a pipe maker must have for the briar-root.

Once the blocks for each project are chosen, I prefer to drill them on the lathe, shape them with an sand disk and hand-finish them off with the help of files, abrasive sandpapers and belt sander.

I find very useful to work simultaneously on several pipes, a precious advise that Mimmo Romeo gave me the first time we met. Actually, if you work on a single pipe at a time, you cannot be detached enough from the design and see it from the outside. A certain compulsiveness prevails. The research of quality pushes you to learn how to make good use of the obsessive energy that is typical of a craftsman: in compulsiveness you can no longer distinguish between good and a little less good. Then, if you move from a pipe to another you are able to manage such energy, take a certain distance and identify more clearly the possible evolution from the original design, hardly ever definitive as you thought at the beginning.

I hand make each stem for each specific pipe. I rarely dye, but I like to use the Danish oil to accentuate the contrast. After drilling and defining the mortise on the lathe, I model the shape with large files and dremel then I go on finishing with medium and fine grain files, small files and abrasive paste.

Then the craved moment arrives at last: it’s the phase of buffing and waxing with cotton wool pads. The pipe acquires light, the grains are enhanced so that you wander how you have been able to make such a beautiful object from a mere wood block.

A last look, hardly ever completely satisfied, as creativity doesn’t foresee such an emotion, and the pipe ends up in its bag, ready to be offered to whom will like to smoke it.

 

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