Blog by Steve Laug
Jeff picked this heavily rusticated pipe up on one of his recent forays into the antique shops and malls of Montana. It is sea rock like rustication on the bowl and shank with a wire rustication on top of that. The finish was very dirty with a lot of dirt and grime in the deeper grooves of the rustication. There was a random stem stuck in the shank when he picked it up – I think it was just to make it more sellable. The stem is a round saddle stem while the shank is oval. The finish was dirty and there were some nicks in it around the shank end. The bowl had a heavy cake in it with some lava overflow filling in the rustication pattern on the rim top. There appeared to be some burn damage on the back left side of the rim top. The pipe had a smooth portion on the underside of the shank for stamping but the only stamping was at the shank/stem junction where it read ITALY. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started his clean up. The rim top can be seen in the next photo. You can see the thick cake and the lava overflow on the top of the rim. It is hard to know if there is damage to the inner edge of the rim but the outer edge was clean and undamaged. It appeared that there was some burn damage on the back left side of the inner rim edge but we would not know until Jeff cleaned the pipe.Jeff took pictures of both sides of the bowl to show the rocky, craggy appearance of the finish on the bowl. It is unusual and interesting at the same time.The next photos show the shank and Italy stamping on the shank end. The stem is obviously the wrong one. You can see the variation of the round saddle portion of the stem and the oval shank. I am not too worried about the stem as it is going in the bin anyway as I will need to fit a new stem on the shank. Jeff worked his magic in cleaning up this pipe as it was a real mess on the rim and deep grit and grime in the grooves of the finish. He reamed it with a PipNet reamer and smoothed the walls of the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife. He scrubbed out the mortise and the airway in the shank and the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the bowl, rim and shank with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. Once the grime was removed the finish actually looked quite good condition. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I did not bother with the old stem as it would be replaced. I went through my can of stems and found one that had the same diameter all the way around as the shank. The fit against the shank end was almost perfect. I would need to make the edges taper a bit more at the shank. The stem was new and still had castings on the sides and the end of the button. The tenon was a perfect fit in the mortise. I put the stem in the shank and took photos of the restemmed pipe. The pipe looks good with the new stem. There is promise in the appearance at this point. I repaired the chip on the left side of the shank end with clear super glue. I needed to rebuild that edge to remove the damaged area and allow the stem to fit snug against the shank. I used a sharp knife to bevel the edges of the mortise to accommodate the hip at the tenon/stem junction.I used a brass bristle wire brush on the rustication to clean off any remnants of the finish and then wiped the bowl down with acetone on cotton pads to remove the dust. I stained the bowl with a dark brown aniline stain and flamed it to set it in the briar. I repeated the process several times until I was happy with the coverage on the bowl. I set the bowl aside to dry overnight before proceeding with polishing the briar.In the morning I buffed the bowl with a shoe brush to raise a shine on the briar. I took the following photos to show what the pipe looked like at this point in the process. The bowl is looking good with a lot of colour variation due to the roughness of the rustication. I laid aside the finished bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded out the casting marks and scratches on the stem with 220 grit sandpaper. I opened up the slot in the button with needle files to make it easier to push a pipe cleaner through. After I had removed the casting marks and the scratches on the stem surface it was time to work on it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit pads and wiped it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil to give the next pad more bite when I sanded. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads and again wiped it down with the oil after each pad. After the final pad I wiped it down with a final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. Each photo shows it progressively getting a shine. I set aside the stem and picked up the bowl once again. I used the Mark Hoover’s Before & After Restoration Balm on the briar. I rubbed it into the grooves on the bowl sides with my fingers. I wanted it to go deep in the grooves to further test the effectiveness of the product. This would be a good test as it one of the roughest rustications that I have worked on with the product. As I have mentioned in previous blogs Mark had said that the product can be used on briar or stems – whether vulcanite, acrylic or horn. He said it was designed to pull the dirt off of the briar as well as polish it. I figured this deep rustication would certainly put those claims to a test. He said that he had added some anti-oxidants to keep the briar from getting damaged from both UV rays and water. Once I had all the grooves and surfaces of the bowl covered I wiped it down with a clean cotton pad and then buffed it with a shoe brush. It seemed to work very well and I took the following photos to show the results. I put the stem back on the bowl and buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish the stem and lightly polish the briar. I gave the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax buffed it with a clean buffing pad to raise a shine. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and rubbed it into the rusticated finish. I buffed it with a shoe brush and then with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The variegated finish on the bowl and stem combine to present a beautiful pipe. The pipe really does look good with the new stem. The dimensions of this pipe are Length: 5 1/2 inches, Height: 2 1/8 inches, Bowl diameter: 1 1/2 inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 inches. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. I will soon be adding it to the rebornpipes store if you are interested in adding to your collection. It is a beauty and will serve someone very well. Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or send me a message on Facebook. Thanks for looking.