February 28th, 2015
Here it is the end of February and I haven't made a single Talbert Briar yet this year, but that little ommission has now been rectified with the first Talbert Briar of 2015 - A new deep-green, sandblasted Rhodesian with a custom-blended Sargasso stem and handcarved brass band! Check it out on the Talbert Pipes catalog page. Also, I've just posted SIX new Morta Collectors to the Ligne Bretagne catalog page. That last set sold out so quickly I wanted to try and get more up before the end of the month (and just managed... barely). The gradual clearing-out of the smaller morta blocks continues, and these churchwarden-style shapes have proven to be an ideal solution for getting some beautiful pipes out of the last of the Breton Morta.
February 28th - Since the last set of Morta Dukes and Dons sold out quickly, I chose to stick with my plan for the time being and continue to work my way through our remaining box of morta blocks. As a result, I've just posted four new Morta Collectors on the Ligne Bretagne page. I'm having a blast making these, and I hope it shows through in their exuberant and rather whimsical styles - Every one of them is a fun piece, though my favorite of the new set is probably the clay-style conical-bowled one - At least, that's the one I look forward most to keeping for myself if these new ones don't sell quickly!
February 7th - Back in France, I accumulated a lot of smaller morta blocks. When I say "smaller", I don't mean tiny, but rather, not suitable for a traditionally-shaped pipe with bowl and shank. If they were cut with a shank of any length, they would effectively be micro-pipes. However, our recent work with the Ligne Bretagne Dukes and Dons made me think of that stock, and some digging around produced what I'd suspected - While the blocks are too small for traditional pipes, they're ideal for Dukes and Dons... just use the entire block as the bowl! For those who like to follow the behind-the-scenes on projects like this, I've written a blog post HERE.
There were a number of challenging considerations, though. Cost was the biggest - They were all going to have to be Collectors, being handmade, which would put them in the odd position of competing with their own brand. From the quick glance, they look a lot like the recent Ligne Bretagne Dukes and Dons, but under the surface, the differences in cost are vast. The standard Ligne Bretagnes are finished from partially pre-machined stummels, ready to be worked. The morta, by contrast, had to be dug up from the Briere park, sawn apart, cut into blocks and carefully dried over 3-5 years before it could even be used. Then, each bowl needed to be drilled and shaped by hand, eating their way through my tools in the process since Breton Morta is hellishly hard stuff.
Will they sell? I have no idea. But it's an intriguing option - If they do sell and prove popular, I can make more until that last box of morta is gone. This would make me happy, as I would much rather turn it into pipes than write it off and cut it all up for bands, shank extensions, and tamper pieces. But, if there isn't any market for these at the price point they need to be to be worth making, I'll very happily keep these for my own collection and turn back to other work - For sentimentality alone, I'd be very happy to keep some of these since to me they're not just pipes, they're symbolic of our whole international adventure and are the existing foundations of the popularity of morta pipes in today's collector market. In a nutshell, they're a piece of pipe history.
January 31st - Aside from starting a new line of Talbert Pipes magnetic pipe stands for 2015, I've also been immersed in the creation of a new style of Ligne Bretagne - the Duke and/or Don shape. I've been wanting to do something like this for some time, and finally set aside the time needed to do the workshop customizing that would allow me to efficiently create many new pipes in these styles. For more technical info on the "Making Of" behind these pipes, I've just posted a new Pipe Blog entry, "Making the New Ligne Bretagnes". For everyone else, you can see seven of the new shapes in a variety of bowl designs and sizes on the Ligne Bretagne catalog page, available for sale now!
January 23rd - One of the most popular Ligne Bretagne shapes ever has been our straight poker. It's one of the larger bowl sizes and over the years, we've been fortunate enough to sell every one we've made. Alas, all good things come to an end. I haven't made any in a couple of years at least, as I thought we'd already run out of stummels. However, Emily went searching and managed to find one remaining bag of seven stummels left. One has already sold so six are left, three of which are now posted to the site and the other three are earmarked for something more unusual, possibly (They may end up being finished as they are or heavily modified, I haven't decided yet). Annnd... That will be it. When these three sell and I finish up the last three, that will be the end of the Ligne Bretagne poker shape, at least among the standard-line non-Collectors, assuming that I don't find another cache of them buried at the bottom of a crate full of billiards or something.
January 18th - The Ligne Bretagne deluge continues! Well, if one can call five new pipes a "deluge", anyway, but I'm doing my best to get some inventory up on the site after it sat empty for so much of December while I did Yule pipes. The new ones are a nice bunch - mostly bulldogs, though there's one slightly bent Canadian among them. The real standout is the new grade 5 smooth squat bulldog. It's gorgeous. Now THAT is the way to start off a year!
January 8th - Hey hey, we've all survived another year! It's been quite a ride. 2014 was a heck of an adventure, what with its massive ice storm and all, and as I type this the temperatures outside here in sunny NC are hovering around 17 degrees, which just seems blasphemous somehow. Where's our 50 degree January? But in any event, I'm back with more pipes. Eight new Ligne Bretagnes kick off the new year, in a wide variety of colors and styles with something for every taste, and some new look that haven't been seen before too! So, check them out in the catalog and see what you think - There are a couple of churchwardens, the usual passel of bulldogs, and more. I'll be back again in a few days with new Talbert Briars, and eventually I also hope to be posting some very nice handmade pipe stands as well.
Older news posts can be found here: