Blog by Steve Laug
I picked up a large bent apple-shaped pipe from one of the antique shops I visited on my journey in Alberta. It is a filter pipe with a Lucite stem and a metal spacer between the shank and stem. The spacer was loose and would need to be glued in place. The stem had sticky gum on it from the sales tags that were on the pipe. There is a stylized pipe stamped on the left side of the saddle portion of the stem. The bowl had a light cake on the top 1/3 of the bowl and some darkening on the rim itself. There was no damage to the rim or the briar of the bowl. The piece of briar used had some great grain on the right side and the back and front of the bowl. The left side had a bald spot but overall the pipe had some nice grain. There is one fill on the back side of the bowl midway between the top edge and the junction of the bowl and shank. The finish was covered with a glossy varnish coat that was dirty, worn and had darkened in some spots on the bowl. The stamping was quite simple – Paronelli on the left side of the shank in script and on the underside of the shank next to the stem is ITALY. I was drawn to the shape as I had not heard of the brand before. Before I started working on it I did a bit of digging on the web to see what I could find out about the brand. I found quite a few oddly painted Paronelli pipes and quite a few in wild colours with appliqués. But I did not immediately find anything on just simple briar pipes. Finally I found Paronelli pipes listed on http://www.theitalianpipe.com/artisans/paronelli.htm
I copied the picture of Alberto Paronelli to put a name with the face for this pipe. The following is adapted from the site.
“Alberto Paronelli, now in his eighties, is undoubtedly one of the true fathers of the art of pipe design and craft. He continues to design and make briar and clay pipes. Many world-famous pipe makers, such as Tommaso Spanu, are indebted to him for their knowledge and fame. Among his endless achievements are the founding of the International Pipe Academy, the Pipe Museum in Gavirate (Italy), and the publication of the now out of print magazine called “La Pipa” (The Pipe).”
I reamed the bowl with a PipNet reamer and took back the cake on the top 1/3 of the bowl back to bare wood. I cleaned out the shank and the tenon/filter area with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol. I scrubbed until they came out clean. I cleaned the metal spacer and reglued it to the stem. I wiped down the bowl and stem with alcohol to remove the gummy substance on the stem and on the sides of the bowl. Once I had the inside of the bowl, shank and stem clean I worked on the finish of the bowl. I decided to try to remove the shiny varnish finish so that I could clean off the dirty and worn areas. I wiped it down with acetone on cotton pads until I had cut through the finish. I sanded it with a medium grit sanding sponge to further break up the varnish and then wiped it again with the acetone. I worked on the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12,000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil between each set of three sanding pads. Fortunately the Lucite stem was in excellent shape other than some minor scratching so it cleaned up quite easily. I reapplied the logo on the side of the stem with white out and lightly buffed the pipe stem with White Diamond when I had finished. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax and set it aside while I worked on the bowl. I buffed the bowl with White Diamond and then rubbed it down with a light coat of olive oil. I wiped the oil on and then off again and let it sit overnight. In the morning I buffed the bowl with White Diamond once again and then gave the pipe several coats of carnauba wax and buffed it with a soft flannel buff. The finished pipe is shown below. I will either have to get a 9mm converter to fill the open tenon or put a filter in place. I have some filters that I picked up in Europe when I was there that fit perfectly so that may well do the trick with this one.
UPDATE: The pipe is on its way as a gift to a young pipeman to add to his growing rotation. Hope you enjoy this one Justin.