Another Saturday spent with Wayne in the shop. Work progressed well and I am getting closer to completion, but wait, what happened this week to get me to this point? I will tell you tales of tragedy and triumph.
The still squared off hunk of briar went with me to my workplace to be fiddled with on breaks and lunches. Using a small disc sander with 180 grit paper, I roughed in the pipe shape I had drawn on the stummel. Only having minutes at a time, the shaping progressed very slowly, but progressed nonetheless. Such beautiful grain revealing itself as I work with this wonderful piece of briar! Every pass on the disc brought me closer to a first class, top notch pipe, or so I thought.
Thursday rolled around and I had planned on having a close to final brandy shape on the stummel. Wayne has written me earlier in the week to keep me from gluing the extension into the briar as we had planned because I still had to drill the mortise to receive the stem tenon. So I rounded the white acrylic portion and set it aside until I could drill it. Afternoon break rolled around and I began to remove more briar from the stummel hoping to get the main shape done before the end break. Dust was floating about, piling up on the bench and the pipe was finally taking shape, but, what's this?! As I sanded down the left side of the bowl, a (large) defect began to appear! Nooo!!!! Such a beautiful block to have this huge flaw! I hoped to sand a little more and have the flaw disappear, but this would not be the case. The more I removed the larger the fissure. So I stopped for the rest of the week, until I could show Wayne and get his input.
So, this morning I ventured to Wayne's and showed him the flaw. He reminded me the possibility of defects is pretty common when dealing with briar and he has had to deal with it himself. As has every other pipe maker. So I thought to myself I have joined the ranks, but in order to be a good maker, I have to salvage what I can and still make a great pipe. We discussed ways to work around the flaw, as with even more sanding, the defect made itself clear it is going nowhere. Bouncing ideas back and forth, I decided to try a rustication (and possible additional sandblast) finish most similar to a pair of Svendborg pipes I own.
I had originally decided to use a colored stem of some sort, to be a bright accent to the dark finish and black and white extension I had implemented. My ideas now shifted slightly with utilizing a rusticated/blasted technique, I will use a less bright, but still colorful cumberland stem. To highlight the cumberland stem, I thought it would be nice to use a dark black or bright reddish finish on the stummel. Another brainstorming session with Wayne helped me decide an orangey base stain (the same orange color found in the stem) and then covering that with an ebony. Then the ebony will be removed on the high points of the rustication to allow the orange to show through, mirroring the effect of the cumberland. Genius!
Having not stopped last Saturday to have a smoke, we began the day with a pleasant one! I think that is what really facilitated our progress today! Wayne worked on a couple pipes, a nice billiard with great bands on the shank and a bent egg shape. I can't wait to see both of them in their finished state! Until next pipe....