Blog by Steve Laug
The next pipe on the worktable is another “Malaga” – a bent rusticated author. Jeff has picked up other pipes of this brand since we picked up the ones from Kathy’s Dad’s estate. They are of various shapes and finishes – rusticated, smooth and mixed finish. They are also various sizes from small to very large. They were all made by the Malaga Pipe Shop in Royal Oak, Michigan. They are all from various places around the US. It is interesting to see the breadth of the spread of one little pipe shop in Michigan. The more I work on the brand the more I am impressed by the quality of the craftsmanship and beauty of the pipes that came from the shop. I wrote a blog to give a little history of the Malaga Brand if you are interested: https://rebornpipes.com/tag/malaga-pipes/. There are also links there to a catalogue and the maker George Khoubesser.)
The rusticated finish goes around the bowl with a smooth rim top, a smooth band around the shank end and a smooth panel on the underside of the shank that was stamped “Malaga”. The smooth rim top shows some nice cross grain. This is one of my favourite shapes and the rusticated bowl and smooth rim top play together to make a beautiful pipe. The bowl had a thick cake but the previous owner kept the rim top free of lava. There was some dust and debris in the finish of the bowl and on the top of the rim. The shine on the bowl and the stem made me wonder if it had been given a coat of shellac before it was sold. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and the shiny coat had been applied over the top. The combination of medium and dark brown stain worked together to create a warm brown finish. It is such a light weight pipe that it also adds certainty to my belief that Malaga pipes were oil cured. Once more there are no fills in the bowl or long shank. I have yet to find a fill in any of the bowls I have worked on in this lot and looking through what remains I think it is fair to say I won’t find any in them either. Jeff took close up photos of the bowl and rim to show the condition of the pipe before he started to work his magic on it. The exterior of the bowl and shank were dirty. You can see that the rim top is free of lava but has some peeling shellac. The cake in the bowl is visible but even. He also took a photo of the shank to show the stamping on the panel on the underside of the shank. You can see the dust and grime in the rustication on the shank before cleanup.The next photos show that the stem was very clean. There was some light tooth chatter on both surfaces of the stem near the button and on the button edges itself.Jeff reamed the bowl with a PipNet pipe reamer and followed up with a Savinelli Fitsall pipe knife to remove the cake. 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, shank and stem with a tooth brush and Murphy’s Oil Soap to remove the oils and tars on the bowl, rim and shank. He rinsed it under running water. He dried it off with a soft cloth. He was able to remove the shellac coat on the bowl and some of it on the stem. The finish looked really good, though a little lifeless after the cleaning. I took photos of the pipe to show its condition before I started my work on it. I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition it was in after the cleanup. Jeff was able to remove most of the peeling shellac on the rim top and edges. The grain on the top is quite clean and has a few slight dents in the finish. The inner edge of the bowl is in good condition. It is a nice looking finish. The stem was clean and you can see the oxidation on both sides of the stem and some slight wear on the edges of the button. There still seems to be a shiny top coat on the stem that would need to be removed to be able to deal with the oxidation. I think that the seller gave the rim top and the stem a coat of shellac or something similar to give it a shine.I sanded the surface of the stem smooth with 220 grit sandpaper. I sanded the rest of the stem at the same time and removed some of the oxidation on the surface. I neglected to take photos of this part of the process. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust. I used the Before & After Pipe Polish to remove the small minute scratches left in the vulcanite. I finished by wiping the stem down with a final coat of Obsidian Oil and set it aside to dry. I used micromesh sanding pads to polish the smooth rim of the bowl and remove the remaining shellac and debris on the rim top. I wet sanded it with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads and dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. The photos below show the progress in the polishing. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm to deep clean the rusticated briar and the smooth rim. The product works to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I hand rubbed it with my fingers and wiped it off with a soft cloth. I buffed the bowl with a horsehair shoe brush to polish it. The briar really began to have a rich shine. I took some photos of the bowl at this point to mark the progress in the restoration. I polished stem and bowl with Blue Diamond to polish out the remaining small scratches. I gave the bowl multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and the stem several coats of carnauba wax and buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The pipe polished up pretty nicely. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. This “Malaga” is a light weight beauty that is well shaped and has another unique finish on the bowl. This is one that is staying with me. The dimensions are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/4 inches, Chamber diameter: 3/4 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over this Malaga. I have quite a few more to work on in the days ahead.