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of the things I feel enrich life most is experiencing contrasts ...
Let me tell you about such an experience that recently occurred ..
One day I was sitting together with my wife and colleague Sara in the
workshop of our modest home in southern Sweden and looking out at the
grim winter weather ... Fast forward 25 hours we sat in 24 Celsius
degree heat on an Island off China's coast and the palm trees swayed
softly in the wind .
change of environment was nothing that came upon us like Dorothy in
the wizard of Oz, but something that we had for some time planned. A
few months earlier we'd been told that the first international
pipe-show in China would be held in early December and first we
decided to decline the invitation ... As a full-time pipemaker with
small children, time is limited and we must dispose of it well to get
all ends to meet .. Better to stay home and work, we thought. But as
the Scania winter made itself felt with its rain and mud the thought
of like-minded people among the sea and sun became more and more
alluring, so with only a few weeks of preparation, we managed to get
together a voluminous collection of 6 pipes + towels and baby-sitting
for our two little girls, which in itself is an impressive
an early afternoon on the first day of December, we left Olseröd to
begin our journey to the other side of the globe.
we met up with the two Danish pipemakers Anne Julie and Manduela so
one can say that I traveled with the majority of the world's female
makers, and good company was needed on the 22 hours-long journey.
After three stopovers, Chinese airplane food and hardly any sleep, we
had finally arrived.
Island, which is usually referred to as the oriental Hawaii, lies
outside China's southern coast near the border to Vietnam and is
divided in half in zones of subtropical and tropical climate and has
a size of 34 000 km2. In 2004 the estimated population was just over
8 million, or in other words an island three times as large as
Scania with almost the entire Swedish population.
a booked room at the Sheraton resort on the outskirts of Haikou,
which is the island's largest city and that at the same price as a
Swedish hostel. After a night's sleep, we met up with Tom and Pia
Eltang, Per Billhäll and Former and enjoyed a day of luxury at the
spacious hotel and got a well deserved rest after our long journey.
the evening we were invited to dinner together with our European
fellow travelers, which at that time amounted to around 10
pipemakers, at a traditional Chinese restaurant downtown Haikou, and
an experience for both the eye and palate! dish after dish was served
and it really offered new and exciting taste experiences for the
adventurous, or how about some fried chicken paws! After a
while I stopped asking what I ate, let my mouth guide me and
struggled with the chopsticks. After dinner we
ended the evening with a stroll along the streets of Haikou together
with Tom, Pia and Former before we took a taxi back to the hotel.
next day we were invited to lunch at the same restaurant with Chinese
collectors and retailers and we where treated with both interesting
conversations and lots of beer as after each toast one was expected
to down the rest of the glass! which was then filled again by
the waitresses so we could repeat the procedure.
we hurried on to the opening of the show and meeting with the press.
Andy who organized the exhibition had put a lot of work and
money to make it a successful event and that we should really give
him credit for.
During the show, which lasted three
days, we were treated like celebrities and I've probably never felt
so welcome. Yet we where only b
actors in the light of the Former and Tom which of course where the
show's real stars, and rightly so.
Overall, around 20 pipemakers where
present from the following countries. Denmark, Sweden, Germany,
Austria, Czech, Italy, Russia and China. We met Sergey Ailarov for
the fist time, what a nice guy it feels like we made a new friend,
and enjoyed having a few beers with Joao Reis again.
During the opening of the show Tom and
the rest of us where gladly surprised to see a magnificent bronze
statue of an Eltang pipe that Andy had gotten made and you can see
on Tom's expression how proud he is. Luckily it was made on a stand
because it was just a tad to heavy to Clench.
One of the biggest reasons for our
trip was of course to meet our dealers and customers and there is
nothing so valuable as to meet in real life when most of our contact
with the pipe world today is via the Internet or over the phone. To
get to interact with other pipe nerds a couple times a year is for me
highly inspirational and something that keeps the flame burning
during lonely workshop hours.
The days of the show where intense
with a lot of new meetings and impressions and there seemed to be a
constant stream of visitors who who had made it all the way to
Haikou. Unlike the West, China has a large proportion of young
collectors and retailers, which for us as the two "youths"
in Swedish pipemaking was a fun experience.
On Saturday evening
it was time for formers surprice in the form of an elegant cake to
celebrate his 50 years anniversary as a pipemaker and he was truly
Then it was time for the smoking
competition which I declined to partake in as my tongue was already
hurting bitterly from smoking way too much. The
young Chinese who won with just over 2 hours of true meditation had
never previously partisipated in long-term smoking contest.
afternoon the show was over and we traveled with our retailers to a
small island close to the border of Vietnam to spend some days
together. This however, is an adventure in itself and the story I
will save for another occasion.
There are more photos from our trip that can be seen on Flickr by clicking Here.
been a while since I posted anything here so I thought I'd give you an update
from our shop..
Fall is upon us in Sweden and this is the time where it’s starting to get cozy
in the workshop there’s nothing quite like enjoying a cup of good strong coffee
and a pipe whilst looking out on the rain and thinking to yourself how blessed
you are doing what you love in a nice and heated environment...
After moving to Olseröd over 4 years ago we got acquainted with the
village smithy Helmer Malm..And quickly found we had many common interests so
Helmer took over the blacksmithing workshop from his father and has run it for
60 years..He is just filled with knowledge and one of those humble characters
that never brags about his skills but the more you get to know him the more you
understand the depth of it..He is one of the old school guys who can do pretty
much anything with a piece of steel: Welding, turning, fraising, hot forging, cold
forging... you name it and Helmer can do it.
He has been helping us with smaller improvements for our workshop and a while
back I asked him if he would build a new belt sander for us to replace my
homemade one..Belt sanders for pipe making are special in that they do not have
backing and run at very slow speeds so that you can hold your hand behind the
belt to aid you in finish sanding pipes..Machines like that cannot bought commercially
and has to be custom made like so many tools of our trade.
what I had in mind and discussing it with Helmer he went to work and a few
weeks back his part of the job was done.
stands here waiting for our electrician to install frequency modulation for
speed control a dust collecting system and a little paint…I can nearly wait… I
love custom made tools.
In other news I am working on making a new webpage wich is something I've wanted to do for a long time. It will have a lot of features our current one lacks the ability to add video footage of our pipes amongst others..I still have lots to do before it is finished but already feel it will be a great improvement..
We where really content with with where it was going and was just discussing who of us should have the honor of hand sanding it when Sara noticed a light in the very bottom of the mortise.. ARGH!! we had carved to close to it and less than a millimeter of briar remained for the light to be visible through the briar.
As a pipe maker one gets used to having to change design or finish of a pipe because of flaws in the briar and even somtimes having to discard the pipe because the flaw is to deep or close to one of the holes, but the worst kind of flaws in briar pipes are the one caused by the human brain..
So we bit the sour apple and I selected a new Block of briar from the shelf sutable for the shape..as it turns out the new pipe had better graining much more defined birds eyes and the wood was very clean...so I guess this story has a happy ending after all.. a nice pipe for myself and a gorgeous new Geiger for a lucky customer.
we have not decided on what to do with The Draconian Belly Flop #2but if you find yourself
by it please inquire about its availability.
2009Posted by Love Geiger Sat, August 29, 2009 16:26:38 For some time now we have been failing to upload recently made pipes to the galleries.. the explenation for this is partly due to lack of time and due to me disliking the current website and we are looking at getting a new site built up and launched sometime in the near distant future...
In the meantime I created a flickr photostream with some of our more recent work .
I really like how photos display in Flickr and might even swap our old gallery section for a Flickr slide ..we'll see
2009Posted by Love Geiger Sat, July 25, 2009 19:14:55 Just some short notes...it seems I've abandoned this blog with our last post just before the Chicago show..sorry for having kept you waiting...
Life is moving at full trottle uphill and too much stuff has been going on to give me time to post here ...although i've wanted to or in other words "Swedish summers here"
To get you up to speed: Chicago was great met many old freinds made new ones, had a ball and left for home with no pipes..
After returning home we did a 21 pipe order for our Chineese Dealers wich took a little over a month to complete and gave no time to update the webpage with available smokers ..most of the pipes we made can be seen Here though the pictures where quickly taken and sometimes quality is lacking.
And now we are on vacation untill sometime early August..
We are working on restoring our old workshop the pipewagon to move it here and turn it into a neat guesthouse on wheels but a lot needs to be done the outer panels needs to be changed and a new roof needs to be built so their won't be much time for the beach..
Check out my next blogpost for some live footage from our shop
2009Posted by Love Geiger Fri, April 17, 2009 11:43:30 With little more than a week left until we leave for Chicago, the shop is buzzing with activety..pictured above are the last 7 pipes we will have time to finish for the show. That will make it a total of 19 pipes if nothing catastrophic should happen..you never know worst things have happened
At this point, knowing what we will bring and what is left to finish, me and Sara are looking forward to this little mini adventure and our first "vacation" away from our two little girls..as well as to meeting all the crazy like minded pipe nerds in this global get together..
Had time to photograph 4 all finished pipes that can be seen here
Thats all for now, hope to have time for another post before leaving...
This year finally we are going to the Chicago
show, I’ve said so for the last 4 years and something has always come in our
This Year though it seems bound to happen with
plane tickets bought, an exhibit table and rooms booked, something catastrophic
must occur to stop us
Like with all first times of course we are a
bit nervous, but in a good way…It will be great fun to finally meet up with
customers and friends that we have made on the internet over the years and
experience the grandness of a show like this..unlike anything we have witnessed here in Europe, like a rock festival for pipe lovers..
It will also be the first time we leave our 2
little girls for a full week in the good care of family and friends..I get the feeling
it will be a bit strange although I’m sure Indra and Esmeralda will be fine it’s
more me and Sara I’m worried about
Currently we are devoting all our shop time to
making pipes for the show, and hope to be able to bring around 20 Geigers with
A crude Preview Gallery can be seen here. It will be updated as soon as
more pieces are finished so please check in on it during April.
And If you are attending the show please stop by and say hello at our table.
chatted online with a fellow pipe aficionado and he asked if we where famous
here in Sweden for our pipes. I found it rater humorous as it is not like
people come up to us and ask for autographs, in fact many are shocked to know
pipes are still produced to this day..
always happy when anything pipe related hits the press and the other week our
local paper Kristianstadsbladet did a nice article about us that hit the papers
version can be seen here and there is also a picture gallery that can be seen
here all in Swedish of course…so maybe now I should brush off the autograph pen
a pipe maker? I guess in the bottom of our souls the basic lust to create..but
from there it varies greatly from maker to maker..
reading any further let me just state for the record that my intent with this
article is to try and clarify for myself and others what drives me and Sara in pipe
Let me also
say that it is my belief that as long as you love what you create and manage to
get a following of pipe lovers and fellow pipe makers who appreciate and
support your creations then you are on your way.
is worth more than the other.. if a pipe maker loves making classical shapes,
shapes of the Danish school, the Japanese school or the Marsian school and working within the rules that define them or
trying to twist and bend them then than that is grand..
Make what you love and
love what you make..For me pipe making is not a competition and something very
personal. It’s just a question of what makes you tick and of course on a professional level what sells..
started out as a layman hobby pipe maker every pipe I made was in a new shape. I
just immensely enjoyed exploring the various different forms of expression through
briar… and in a way I think I was trying to define what I liked.
when my tastes had developed a bit more I learned to cut down the variables and
focus on refining and improving shapes that I was fascinated by and that also
tends to change over time and I'm in no way done exploring new paths.
great Bo Nordh who was known for coming up with new additions or innovative improvements
of other makers inventions basically had a form vocabulary of 10 or so
different shapes that he did variables on plus his takes on classical shapes.
this day, one of the things that motivate us the most when making pipes is coming
up with new shapes, although it happens
more rarely than in the beginning and we’ve become more selective and dogmatic
which is natural in any development I think.
It’s just a very special feeling to charter
unknown territory, challenging your
creative side to come up with good solutions to new design ideas and it can be truly rewarding .
picture in your head and draw in 2 dimensions the shape from every thinkable
angle…figuring out how to best lay out the shape in a block of briar to accent
its form and maximize the beauty of the wood, and coming up with the best way to position
the holes for the pipe to function well.
couple of years we’ve even started to cut a prototype bowl out of pine just to
see how all the details and features of the given shape interact in 3D before
wasting a nice block of briar because all ideas aren’t good even if they might
seem so on paper or in your mind..By doing a prototype we get a much better
feeling if it “works” and how the pipe feels in the hand ect.
I have to constantly
tell myself to focus on the given path, not all (most) new pipe ideas are good
ones and developing them can take a great deal of time, more than you’d think
Creativity does not happen in a vacuum rings true and there have been times we
have created a pipe we felt was unique only to find later that some other pipe maker
crafted something similar…Such is the way of the briar pipe, there are only a limited number of
ways the grain runs and on smooths and sandblasts that sets the bar..Everything
comes from something..
while being wonderful for our hobby, bringing us closer in creating a contact net
previously impossible and taking us to new heights in frendship across the
globe ,making it possible for our creations to travel more than I ever have.
But creatively it also has a few setbacks ,we try not to look too
much on pictures of other makers work because I’m afraid it will influence what
we make too much..Incorporating features and certain style ideas from other pipe makers and making them your own is
fine by me and a good way to develop, no
question about it and I would be a fool to say we didn’t… we admire some pipe makers
work greatly and cannot help being inspired by it.
discussing this with Tom Eltang once and he proclaimed that most “young lions”
should get a house in the forest for a year with no internet connection.
As a pipe
maker trying to live on selling his works one is of course dependent on people
buying it and thereby one cannot help to be influenced by popular demand and
what sells..that is the way of our western world..money talks..
reading once in an article about art and music that people in general will not accept something totally new. When a painting or art
object had 10% of innovation and 90% classicism it was conceived as great art.
This I think is very true.
to me the different motives people have when making or collecting pipes and
what they focus on how we grow and expand and take thing in new directions ..
all for now, sorry for rambling on once again in a language that is not my own
I could have written more on the subject but out of fear of boring you ill end it here
comes to the choice of what material to use for cutting our stems we've grown
to be rather conservative..
Starting out making pipes I experimented with various Acrylic and Lucite rods
in a range of exotic colors and patterns but never really liked working with
the material or the harder more cold feeling it gives when clenching. After a
while when starting to get more conscious of design aspects we decided to skip
them all together as they add a certain "Fancy" look to a pipe that
is just not suitable for what we try to achieve..
Saying all this I’m talking about the more extreme colors and patterns that
some Lucite has, we might make a pipe or two with amberite acrylic in the
future who knows..
I recall discussing stem materials with good friend and college Bengt Carlson once.
We were talking about the use of Cumberland..Now Bengt is even more
conservative and strict as to what he uses for shank rings and stem materials than we are.
I think I own the only Bengt pipe made with Cumberland pictured below.
Bengt only uses horn and boxwood for shank extensions and ebonite rod for
stems..His thoughts of Cumberland was that it only added character to a blasted
pipe as on smooths it distracted the eye away from the grain on the bowl too
Now I do love Cumberland but over time have adopted his thoughts and on smooths
we only add it in the case of making a pipe that is marked for being a
sandblast but turns out too nice grain wise to blast and already has a stem cut
out for it.
Quality Ebonite is produced by only a few companies in the world today..In fact
only 2 manufacturers that I know of with good enough results to use for high
grade pipes exist.
And believe me Making ebonite at this quality level is not easy and production is costly
plus the market for it is small... only pipe makers , fountain pen makers and
some crafters of musical instruments use it.
The last couple of years we've been using Ebonite from the rather new German Ebonite manufacturer called Schönberger Ebonite . I just love how their product have developed and their consious strive to produce a high quality product showing great Interest in
what their customers think and how they can approve..
They have been working hard developing what they call Ebonite Swirls wich is basically cumberland with a swirl on the end in stead of the classical birdseye like dots and producing a different kind of "grain" pattern..
rods come in a variety of different colors and me and Sara debated long on whether
they would look good on our pipes...I ended up ordering some just out of curiosity
and wanting to see it with my own eyes..I’m happy we did and especially fell in
love with the moss green color they produce shown to the left below and on the
stem under it
pictured below is a new shape we've been working on thant we named the Speeding Egg and I'll portray it better
in another post... but this pic shows the moss green swirl well and the picture
is more true to its actual color and shows the pattern well.
I think this color looks real well on darker blasts like on this pipe and look forward to play with the other colors We've got and what combinations of stain to use them with.
Well sorry for rambling about stem materials what I really wanted to say was: Hey we got new Cumberland Swirls