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Pipe vs. Aesthetics: a Deal Breaker?

(26 posts)
  • Started 3 years ago by wyfbane
  • Latest reply from cigrmaster
  1. wyfbane

    wyfbane

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    So has anyone here been to a Show or on Ebay and seen a pipe from a coveted carver at a screaming good price and just been put off by the shape? One of those carver that CAN'T make a bad smoker, but you just know you won't because of the shape?

    I am looking at a von Erck on ebay that literally looks like a chunk of lower intestine. Great price (for now) but between the double stamp and the off putting shape I won't bite. Anyone else come across this?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  2. wyfbane

    wyfbane

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    231551361403 is the auction number to the pipe I'm talking about.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  3. northernneil

    northernneil

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    The size and shape of a pipe is very important, to me, when determining if I will buy a pipe or not. Over the years I have learned that if I do not like the look, feel and weight of the pipe, I will not smoke it.

    For example, I have a Caminetto that smokes like a dream, but due to the size and weight, it only gets brought out on the specialist of occasions as you need about 3 hours to get through a bowl.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  4. peckinpahhombre

    peckinpahhombre

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  5. warren

    warren

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    A pipe must catch and please my eye first and foremost.

    A man without a shillelagh is a man without an expedient.
    Posted 3 years ago #
  6. wyfbane

    wyfbane

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    Peck, that pipe isn't ugly to me. This thing is crazy ugly.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  7. monty55

    monty55

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    Interesting question. I guess I'm in both groups, I have to like the looks before I consider buying it. On the other hand I have not had the opportunity to make a purchase from a carver that I knew to turn out great smoking machines at a bargain price but I very well might have purchased something like Peck bought at a bargain price.

    Peck, that pipe is not all that bad. I mean it doesn't look like a chunk of lower intestine as the OP describes the one he is considering... ok a nut sack, but at least it's bowl shaped. And I can certainly see that it appears to be a perfect flake pipe of the right size, with meatiness in all the right places.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  8. 4nogginsmike

    4nogginsmike

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    Shape/form is the most prominent physical detail about a pipe. If the shape didn't appeal to me I wouldn't care who made it. I wouldn't buy.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  9. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    I have bought a few pipes that I am not enamored with looks wise, but bought it anyway because it fit my pipe criteria to a tee. I ended up getting a great smoker everytime and have never regretted going for smoking properites over looks.

    Here is an example of a Rad Davis I really don't like the look of, the freaking thing is red and I mean a butt ugly red to my eye. But it is a killer flake smoking machine.

    Harris
    Posted 3 years ago #
  10. maxx

    maxx

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    If the appearance doesn't attract me, I move on. If I am attracted to a pipe, I imagine it in my hand, smoking it. Does it look comfortable to hold? Is it too short, putting the bowl closer than I like? Is the pipe smaller overall than it seems from the picture? Is the chamber diameter less than I want at the moment? Does it use filters or have a stinger, which I don't want? Can I find that model with a finish I like more? Am I willing to pay what it costs? Is it too similar to what I already have? Does it fit a niche I want to fill. Does it do that in a way I prefer over other pipes I'm attracted to? What's the level of my attraction, is it high or low? And most importantly: will it get me laid?

    "Curiosity is one of the most permanent and certain characteristics of a vigorous intellect."
    ~ Samuel Johnson ~
    Posted 3 years ago #
  11. wyfbane

    wyfbane

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    Well someone stole that Erck for 199. I wish them well.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  12. mso489

    mso489

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    Neither peck's nor cigrmaster's pipe is a visual monster to me. I have seen some pipes that are more scrotum-like than I would want to clutch, and others where the red color is overdone, but neither of these pipes fit that category for me. They do call the spherical shape a ball, but that's a good blast texture and not too urological to me. And the red pipe is fairly subtle, not tacky, by my lights. So either of those, from the good carvers, at the right price, would have been a buy for me. On the other hand, gross or crass aside, many pipes by pipe carving masters just don't move me. More often than not, it's not repulsion, it's just a kind of rebellion. The guy tried too hard and the pipe looks exhibitionistic, over-refined, artsy, or has too many elements without bringing them together well. Some of this is just my taste not matching theirs, and maybe some of it is just misfiring craft and design. I wouldn't buy something just for the low price, or just for the carver, or just for the two. But in these two cases, and in several purchases of my own, I'd say your intuition has guided you well.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  13. wyfbane

    wyfbane

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    I agree with you, Mso. I would GIVE my left nut to have found Peck or Harris' pipe for $199. I just couldn't bid on this one.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  14. warren

    warren

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    When I see a pipe on a rack, in a display case or on a wall display, if it fits my eye, I ask for it. If a pipe does not immediately hold my eye I form no real opinion about it. I've found that only a quick scan of displays works best for me. Color, proportion, size and shape are important to me. The maker only enters into the equation when I am fondling and inspecting fit and finish.

    I've mentioned before that I've only seen one pipe that would make me violate my rule regarding buying on-line. A picture of a pipe very rarely will elicit any emotional response. A photograph provides too little information and that may incorrect or skewed. A photo of a pipe on this site which is fully out of proportion, maltreated or gimmick looking might cause a roll of the eyes. This is only because it is right in front of me and hard to disregard.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  15. seacaptain

    seacaptain

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    Yep, if I don't like the way it looks, I don't care how it smokes.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  16. tarak

    tarak

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    I will absolutely not buy a pipe unless I like the looks. I wouldn't smoke a pipe I found ugly no matter how good.

    And Harris- if you need to get rid of that ugly (beautiful) Rad Davis pipe....you know how to PM me!

    Posted 3 years ago #
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    lestrout

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    To me, pipe aesthetics is like flyfishing for trouts. Being confronted by the thousands, perhaps tens of thousands, of pipes beautiful, ugly and otherwise at the Chicago Show brought this home to me. By way of explanation, if a trout weren't attracted to a fly floating by, he wouldn't be motivated to sidle over to maybe inhale it. Also, if the fly didn't attract my attention when procuring it and then again when scoping out my fly box to decide what to tie on the line, it wouldn't have the chance to have the trout get a look at it. (I turn my back to the fish when I look in the fly box - I would want to have him so entranced by the fly before I tied it on, else I would have him scatter the contents of my box were he to leap into my box).

    Actually, the mechanics of getting trouts to bite my flies are somewhat more complex, but we are talking about pipes.

    hp and tl
    les

    Posted 3 years ago #
  18. brudnod

    Spencer

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    Once you have culled the amassed volume of pipes from your collection down to good smokers that have that je ne s'est quot esthetic you have arrived. Getting to that point is the trick. Smokability is first and foremost but if the pipe does not call to you from the pipe rack it is not going to get smoked.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  19. samcoffeeman

    samcoffeeman

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    I just scoped that Erck you were referring to. Definitely looks like a turd. I had an Erck that was mich nicer but it was huge so I sold it off. Pipes in my collection must be good smokers, and have that eye appeal. I can deal with a bit that is slightly uncomfortable if the pipe is designated as a hand pipe (not a clencher). No P-lips tho.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  20. wyfbane

    wyfbane

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    Sam, I agree with you. What are your thoughts on Peck and Harris' "ugly" pipes? I don't think they are ugly. This one on ebay was just bad.

    What did you make of the nomenclature? It all appeared double stamped. I think the nail in the coffin was that. I couldn't risk smoking an intesting and later finding out it was a fraud. Ha ha ha.

    I am the first to also concede that beauty is in the eye of the beholder. I have some pipes that my pipe buddy just looks at and shakes his head, but they are all representative (if a bit warped, thank you Italy) versions of traditional shapes. lol.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  21. drezz01

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    peckinpahhombre

    http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/share-your-magical-smoking-pipe

    'nuff said.

    For the sake of the children I went ahead and made your pipe work-safe.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  22. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    Spencer,

    Smokability is first and foremost but if the pipe does not call to you from the pipe rack it is not going to get smoked.

    As much as I really dislike the color of that Rad, it gets smoked as much as any pipe in my collection and definitely more than quite a few others. I grab it whenever I go out as I consider it to be my beater Rad. I smoke it inside whenever the mood strikes because of how great it smokes. I don't know if it is possible but I am going to ask my buddy Zack if he can re-stain it a different color. I think it would look great in black. Even if it were black, I wouldn't smoke it anymore than I do now but I would feel better about myself having it black as it really does not match any of my purses.

    tarak, sorry buddy but that pipe smokes too well to ever let it go. Now that I am going to have Zack color it black, and it will match most of my purses, it will be even harder for you to get it out of my hands.

    If I had seen pecks Rousch, I would have jumped on it immediately as even though it is not a pipe I would consider to be very good looking, I know how well it will smoke and for me that is first and foremost.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  23. drezz01

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    Allow me to take this topic far too seriously (despite my nutsack picture).I've been coming up against this idea of form V function in various areas of my life.

    The dichotomy of form and function is a tough one - and one which far wiser men and women than I have written on at length. I am primarily referring to architecture as it is my profession but from automobile to interaction/interface design it is a fiercely argued matter.

    American, Louis Sullivan, the father of the modern skyscraper, is well cited as stating Form ever follows function: a treatise that was followed through the majority of the 20th century until the resurgence of humanism and the rise postmodernism in which cultural symbolism became predominant. Conversely the Art Nouveau school of thought promotes the use of ornament over utility, forwarding beauty over pragmatism. I'm big on tactility and if a pipe doesn't feel good in the hand it is a major obstacle for me.

    Though many have tried, I don't believe you can arrive at a definitive answer over which is more important, form or function. It is a very personal thing.

    There are obvious comparisons in the pipe world: how it appears V how it operates as a smoking apparatus. I have a stanwell straight billiard that smokes quite well but it never ends up in my hand because the poor excuse of a blast and the goopy application of a finish combined with especially cheap feeling acrylic stem does not at all float my boat.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  24. cigrmaster

    cigrmaster

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    drezz01, interesting post, very well done. When it comes to something as personal and important to the smoking experience as the stem, then looks and functionality goes out the window. I have had plenty of great looking and great smoking pipes that had awful stems which totally ruined the smoking experience. Both of my Meers are wonderful to look at, both smoke just fine, but the stems are so bad, I cannot smoke the pipes. Now if your Stanwell had a great stem, and still had the lousy blast and lousy stain, I believe that function would take over, what do you think?

    Posted 3 years ago #
  25. drezz01

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    That's a tough one because the feeling of the pipe in my hand is sort of the main concern I have with it. It's a stanwell relief and the finish is more than a stain -- it almost seems like a thin application of tar or something. It has a slight grit to it as well. It sort of smooths out the blast so the texture is subdued. It feels... globby almost.

    The main thing that bothered me about the stem is how insubstantial the material felt ... like a cheap wine glass that has all of the same dimensions as a higher end glass but just feels -- off. If you clench it you get that sort of Styrofoam on Styrofoam feeling as your teeth slip slightly on its surface. Comparatively teeth just seem to nicely bed themselves in vulcanite instead of struggling for a place to sit.

    I didn't really have anything to compare the stem to until I got my Alden Lovat. That man has ruined me. The stem just sort of slips between my lips effortlessly... how it is so thin with such an unencumbered draw I do not know. I haven't clenched it very often but when I venture to do so it feels right. My teeth bed in to it instead of slipping along the hard surface and I'm not struggling to maintain a grip on it. This is partially due to the material, partially the saddlebit vs tapered but largely, I think, the efforts Ryan went to shaping that stem.

    I am only now starting to appreciate the draw of a pipe as well and don't have enough experience to really appreciate the relative smokeability of a pipe. This is maybe why I am leaning so much on the tactility side these days.

    A pipe, however, is certainly governed by anthropometry and ergonomics. It's meant to be (typically) held in the hand, clenched at times between the teeth, and to be met by the mouth and lips of its smoker. If it's not pleasing at those intersections between pipe and man -- then I don't think it's doing a very good job as a pipe.

    Posted 3 years ago #
  26. cigrmaster

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    Ryan has now ruined you like Rad Davis runied me. After smoking my first Rad I became obsessed with my stems. I had owned plenty of vulcanite stems in the past, but never one that was designed as well as my Rad. Besides being super thin and comfortable, it made my smoking experience so much better becasue of the internal design of the stem. Rad explained to me about airway dimensions and how that can contribute to a great smoke. He also told me that it was vitally important that the inside of the stem be smooth as a baby's butt so there was no turbulence, which will lead to a wet smoker.

    I clench my pipes at all times as for me it lends to a nice smooth cadence which makes my pipes smoke very cool. I don't have to think about how I am smoking anymore as the pipe just sits in mouth and as I breath I take in some smoke, blow some out my nose and mouth and keep repeating. All of my pipes now are light enough to clench comfortably and the stems are all designed for easy clenching.

    I don't know what your Alden pipe weighs but it is probaly light enough for clenching. You should try a few bowls clenching and see if you can get a nice cadence going so you don't have to think about what you are doing. You might be surprised and like it. Contact Ryan and ask him to explain to you how the stem and it's internal workings are so important to the smoking experience. I think you will be amazed at what he tells you, I know I was when Rad explained it to me. I am sure Ryan can explain it much better than I have done in this post.

    Posted 3 years ago #

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