Blog by Steve Laug
I don’t know why but I keep taking out some unique pipes from the box my brother Jeff sent me. He has an uncanny ability to find the unusual and interesting pipes for me to restore. This one is one I had never heard of before. I have seen other bamboo rusticated pipes but not one that had the stamping that this one does. It is stamped on the underside of the bowl with the words BAMBOO BRIAR in an arch over the word Spain. The carver did a marvelous job of replicating the look of bamboo in the briar. The nodules, lines and grooves that he/she put in the briar really look like bamboo. To give it even more of an interesting look they left the briar natural to highlight the subdued grain of the briar coming through the smooth areas of the bamboo and the carved nicks in the surface. It is really beautiful.
When I took it out of the box the bowl had a thick cake of carbon built up in the bowl. The rim was thickly caked as well with lava. The outer edges of the bowl had some nicks in it and there was a small burn mark on the front right inner edge of the bowl. The stem did not fully seat in the mortise because of the tars and oils there. The exposed portion of the tenon and the stem were badly oxidized. There was some light tooth chatter on the stem but overall it was in decent shape underneath the oxidation. I took some close up photos of the rim and the bottom of the bowl. The picture of the rim shows the thickness of the cake and the state of the top of the rim. This old pipe was pretty clogged up with cake and tars. The picture of the bottom of the bowl shows the stamping. It reads Bamboo Briar over Spain. I removed the stem and dropped in a jar of Oxyclean to soak the heavy oxidation for several hours. Before working on the bowl I did a little research on the brand and found that on my go to site, Logos and Stampings, or pipephil there was a notation. Here is the link: http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-b1.html#bamboobriar.
On that site the pipe is described as follows: The bamboo like decorative carving was typical of Valencia’s manufacturers since the early 20th century. However it’s difficult to say who exactly the maker was.
With that information in hand I went to work on the bowl. I reamed it with a PipNet pipe reamer beginning with the smallest cutting head and working up to one that was the same diameter as the bowl. I removed the cake and took it back to bare wood. I finished the reaming and cleaned up the bowl walls with the Savinelli Pipe Knife. The outer edge of the rim was rough and the top had some nicks in the briar that made topping the bowl necessary. I topped it to remove the damaged areas of the rim using a topping board and 220 grit sandpaper. I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with acetone (fingernail polish remover) on cotton pads to clean up the dirt and oils from the natural finish of the briar. I sanded the topped rim with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and then used a light brown stain pen to stain it to match the patina on the bowl. I used a black Sharpie pen to touch the “root nodules” of the simulated bamboo. I hand applied some Conservators Wax to the bowl and once it dried hand buffed it with a shoe brush.I took photos of the pipe after buffing it. The colour of the rim and the patina that came out on the bowl with the wax gives it an aged bamboo look that I really like. I cleaned out the shank with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners to remove the tars and oils. I was quite surprised by how little came out of the shank with the cleaning. I expected it to be far worse.The stem had been soaking in Oxyclean for about four hours so it was time to work on that. I set the bowl aside and removed the stem from the Oxy soak. The soak had softened and removed much of the oxidation from the surface. It had also brought the deeper oxidation to the surface.I rubbed the stem down to remove the softened oxidation and then used needle files to clean up and define the edges of the button.I used pipe cleaners and alcohol to clean out the inside of the stem and again was surprised by the lack of real oils and tars.I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the file marks and to remove the oxidation on the surface. I wet sanded the stem with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads and gave it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil and let it dry. I buffed the stem on the buffer with Blue Diamond and then gave the pipe multiple coats of carnauba wax. I used a light touch on the bowl and shank so as not to clog up the nodules or grooves in the bamboo carving with too much wax. I raised the shine with a clean flannel buff on the buffer and then gave it a hand buff with a microfibre cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I really like the way the patina of the briar and the carvings on the bowl and shank give the pipe a look of aged bamboo. The unknown Spanish carver did a great job on this one in my opinion. Now I have to decide whether to keep this one or not. It is so unique that I think it deserves a place in my collection. Thanks for looking.