Workshop 

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I work at home. Both because I have the chance to live in a large town apartment, and mainly because I like to consider my workshop as a simple extension of the spaces where I usually live.

Nearly all my equipment has been produced on purpose for making pipes. In this a pipe maker’s activity is actually different from many other craftsmen’s. For example, it is true that everybody uses the sand disk as it is also true that each one adapts the tools to his own way of working.

In the same way, when visiting various pipe makers’ workshops, you’ll never find the same French wheel. Big or small, with a central fastening nut or with Velcro, made of aluminium or steal, everybody works better with his own tool, made for his own hand. This makes me think of Kant, the philosopher, who wrote: “The hand is the window of the mind”. Actually, each disk gives each craftsman a different result. This is one of the alchemies of handwork that makes the final product really unique.

But long is the way to get to feel the chosen tool as an extension of one’s own hand. The first right instinct is to follow the indications of those who know more. This leads to a false confidence: if I use the same tool as my teacher, I’ll get more easily good results. But when the results do not arrive, the discouragement comes: the pipe I hand doesn’t match with the model I have in mind, I cannot but acknowledge that I am making mistakes. From this stems a process of growth: being ready to recognise the mistake and finding in it the urge to look for the solution. Sooner or later, a sincere and passionate curiosity will inevitably make me understand where I was wrong and, with the time, the confidence in my skill will come back. We could say that technique develops thanks to a constant dialectic between the right way to do a thing and the willingness to experience mistakes. We’ll soon discover that, in most cases, the mistake is in wanting to apply methods or to use tools that are not fit for our hands, that is for our mind. A good teacher recommends this to his pupil: learn the basic technique and find your own way.

My workshop covers an area of ​​16 square meters, enough to move easily among the machines, the wood dust and an self-made desk inspired by that of Tom Eltang. My experience has made me understand that, to make good pipes, you don’t need large spaces but rather enthusiasm, proper tools and a few years of training.

 

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