It was recently requested that I make an exquisite set of smoking vessels that would uniquely stand alone from anything I’d done prior, as well as anything I know of in the industry. It truly was an honor as well as a complete blast.
The pipes came as two 7-day sets; one a black sandblast set with antique, pre-ban elephant ivory*, and the other, 7 high grades (Anchor and Pirate Grades).
When commissioned to make pipe sets, I often like to accompany each set with some sort of case, display, box, bag, etc, to properly add flare and distinction to the project. This set, being the first double 7-day set I have had the privilege of tackling, also had the special distinction of including 7 of my highest grades of pipes. With this in mind, I instantly began considering how these sets should be appropriately presented on display. I developed many design concepts, both separate and single-unit, and ultimately landed on the idea of a cabinet which would both stow away each pipe in its own drawer, but also have multi-functional open display options.
The display details:
I incorporated my favorite pair of highly contrasting wood species for this set: Flamed Maple and African Wenge. The drawers are made of Spanish cedar with maple bottoms and are lined with black lambskin. Each drawer is individually numbered on the inside, upper left-hand of the box and matches a number on the interior drawer rail. Each drawer uniquely fits only the slot it was made for, to ensure that the wood grain pattern of the face of these drawers is always displayed correctly, as they came from one, book-matched flitch. The drawer pulls are made of briar and antique elephant ivory (some smooth and some black-sandblasted, to match the finish of the pipe sets). The top of the case has 7 rare earth magnets to securely display an entire 7-day set on top, if desired. I also created 5 Wenge pipe hangers (magnetized) for hanging in the interior “window”, accompanied by 2 magnets on the “floor” of the window, so that another set of 7 can be displayed. For an added feature, I made a shelf for the window, which is supported by the dual-purpose pipe hangers. This shelf neatly fits into the bottom drawer. Lastly, knowing the client’s affinity for Japanese design and culture, the feet of this display are a nod to that aesthetic.
To round out the set, I crafted two pipe tools (pick and tamper) one to match the pipes and drawer pulls; the other to match the display cabinet. I also hand-sketched a “section” drawing of the internal workings of each pipe, should the client lack adequate wall decoration (and, perhaps, for his own curiosity).
*for more information on the the elephant ivory used, visit this site: http://www.ivorybuyer.com/