Wednesday, November 28, 2007

on fills. . . (shhh)

LatakiaLover Knoxboard Yoda Posted: Tue Feb 06, 2007 12:55 pm

Subject: Follow-up response received this morning (regarding fills):

Thank you for your reply of 5th February.

By way of background, we have hundreds of different pipe shapes and from say 100 pieces of shapes, say 03, 3-5 pieces would be deemed "fill free". These special pieces would then be finished with the following series: Straight Grains Supremes - Silver and Gold Mounted

In addition the following series could have small root marks but no putty, namely :- De Luxe System De Luxe Classic Army Spigot Celtic Natural Rosslare Natural Grafton Hinged Lip Cap Natural Silver Caps

I trust the above information is of some help and wish you many hours of smoking pleasure.

Kind regards,

Peterson of Dublin

Peterson House Sallynoggin

Co. Dublin IRELAND


Anonymous said...

I must say that I have a racing green Dublin that is filled excessively. It none-the-less remains one of my favorite pipes as it is a fine smoker, and an admirable workhorse in my rotation.

I'd be lost without; fills or no fills.

Anonymous said...

I'll agree with the other poster here, for whom a pipe with fills is among his favorites. Some of my favorite pipes have fills and other imperfections, but are always sources of (to use a "seasonal" expression in this time of year) "comfort and joy."

Fills don't hurt the smoking qualities of a pipe, nor its feel when held in the hand.

Varnish does, in the worst way; and stains do if they reach the interior of the bowl (or the system moisture trap, where smoke does after all pass through on the way to the smoker's mouth). Varnish and stains can be removed from the interior of the bowl with (respectively) a gentle sanding with fine-grit sandpaper and with Q-Tips (cotton swabs) moistened with alcohol (the latter process for removing varnish can take quite some time if done carefully).

The break-in period on a new pipe is far better with natural wood than where stains or varnishes have been encountered.

Fills are merely a minor visual distraction that soon enough blend in with natural briar as it darkens over the years. One may, though this could be regarded as slightly sacriligious in some circles, take a dark magic marker with a small point, and carefully touch its pointed tip to the area in question to instantly darken a fill that appears light in contrast to darker wood around it.

If I were to offer a suggestion to any maker of large numbers of pipes, it would be to never use varnish, take care with stains that they never reach the interior of the bowl or the point where the stem is inserted, and not worry about fills. We can accept that first-quality briar is becoming scarce, and we can allocate our pipe-buying budgets accordingly.

Personally I'd sooner have a larger pipe with some fills, than a smaller one without; or two pipes that are less than perfect rather than one that is flawless. Others may feel differently, which is all to the good, as there'll be enough to go around for all.

Thomas Martin said...

Anon brings up a great point. Ignore the flaws! Its something I do when I'm crafting a pipe. I was tired of sacrificing the shape of the pipe chasing flaws and fissures, instead I let them remain as nature intended and call the pipe "organic." Unfortuneately, and something I will never understand, this renders the market value of the pipe next to nil. So, I keep them for myself and enjoy them thoroughly.

I would never reject wood flooring, paneling, or even furniture for the occasional knot hole. I am tired of the fill or not to fill debate. As anon implied above, "it is what it is," and the price is reflected in it. Where people take exception is when they find a flaw or fill on a pipe they paid a couple hundred bucks for.

I do not believe in caveat emptor- let the buyer beware- if a carver uses fills, say so as had Peterson. No surprises.

What *I* take exception to is the capricious sensibilities of the BUYER. If a pipe is nicely grained it seems the carver gets all the credit for the beauty. Conversley, why should a flaw discredit the same carving? I am not suggesting that one should not pay a premium for a straight grain. I am suggesting that there needs to be a sensible bottom to the price structure when it comes to natural flaws that do not affect the utility of the pipe, only the esthetic. I think an occassional flaw enhances the beauty. It reminds me that it is wood.

If I come across a nice piece of wood, I can not take credit for it. Can I make a nice pipe from it? Of course. But remember for the individual carvers making fifty pipes a year, you have to imagine, on average they have invested 20 hours of labor into the piece. That does not include the time spent, maintaing the workshop, the website, and customer relations... time spent selling.

That said, if there is a sand pit aside the shank, its my feeling that it is a *shame* that the market value drastically decreases. This is what forces carvers who carve as their livelyhood to toss it in the scrap heap, or consider filling.

I do not make a living carving. If I did, I be smoking lawn clippings, but this affords me the luxury to take the stance I take and smoke my "organic grade" pipes. Its wood afterall.

Concerning the stains, I agree with anon... sort of. It does take longer for a breaking in , but I can certainly understand why Peterson dip-stains: a neccesary economy of scale. I have always hesitated the alchohol treatment to remove the stain from inside the chamber feeling that it only serves to soak the stain further INTO the grain after it has been diluted with the alchohol. Grin and bear it and you will soon have a pipe which smokes everybit as good as a pipe with a untreated bowl. Or if you are industrious, sand the inside of the bowl and you'll come to appreciate the life of a pipemaker.

Personally I have sworn off all stains on pipes in favor of Olive Oil. (No it doesn't go rancid.) Nothing is more beautiful than a natural briar that has darken with time and use. Nothing that is except for a briar which has been rubbed with Olive Oil. It seems to add a depth of character that no stain ever could. I learned this from a mentor who also has very interesting views on this topic of flaws and fills. I won't go into it in detail because I believe he is writing an article for NAPC.

Wait for it....

Well said Anon. and thanks for commenting on The Peterson Pipe Project.