Blog by Steve Laug
This next pipe was purchased from an online auction on 08/06/22 in Manorville, New York, USA. He sent some photos of the pipe. It was a beautiful shaped The Briar Workshop creation, hand made by Elliott Nachwalter. I have come to appreciated pipes made by Elliott and have several nice ones in my collection. They are uniformly great smokers. I have also restored my fair share of them over the years. The stamping on the left side of the shank is in an oval. Arched at the top of the oval it read The Briar Workshop. In the center it is stamped Coral Spgs[over] FLA. USA. On the bottom of the oval it is stamped Designers/Pipe Makers. Below the left side of the oval it is stamped with a number 3. On the right side it bears Elliot Nachwalter’s signature [over] Jorg Jemelka’s signature. Below that and toward the bowl it is stamped 28. The pipe has an interesting mixture of finishes – on the left side there is a wire like rustication on the rim top, down over the side to the heel and on a portion of the shank. The rest of the finish on the bowl and shank is smooth and has some beautiful grain. On the right side of the rim top was a section of plateau. The bowl had a thick cake in it and the rim top has lava and debris in the plateau, the rustication and on the inner edge of the bowl. The finish on the pipe was dirty with debris ground into the grooves of the rustication and on the smooth finish as well. The stem was oxidized and had some tooth marks on the top and underside just ahead of the button. There was a Fleur-de-lis cut in copper inlaid into the topside of the tapered stem. Jeff took photos of the pipe before he started to work on it.He took photos of the bowl and rim top to show what they looked like before his clean up. He also took some of the stem to show the condition of both sides. The photos of the sides and heel of the bowl show the unique combination of finishes around the bowl and shank. The stains adds depth to the finish and highlights the beautiful grain. Even under the grime it is a real beauty. The stamping on the left side the shank is shown in the first photo below. It is clear and readable as noted above. The second and third photos show the signatures on the right side of the shank and read as noted. I turned to Pipephil’s site to look up information on the brand to identify the period of time when Nachwalter made the pipe. I turned first to the section on Elliot Nachwalter’s name (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-e2.html#elliotnachwalter) to see what it said. It is interesting in that I shows a pipe made in Vermont whereas the one I have says Coral Springs, Florida USA.I turned then to the section of the site on Pipeworks as that is also stamped on the pipe I am working on (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-p3.html#pipeworks). Sure enough the site showed a pipe that was stamped the same way as the one I have. It is shown in the screen capture below. The stem logo on the one I am working on is a Fleur-de-Li rather than a snowflake. From there I turned to Pipedia for a bit more information (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Nachwalter). The site quoted from both Lopes book and from Nachwalter’s website and had a lot of great historical information. I quote portions of it below.
From Pipes, Artisans and Trademarks, by Jose Manuel Lopés’
Elliott Nachwalter studied the History of Art and Photography, but passionate about pipes, decided to go into pipe making. With a few tools and some machinery, he started his workshop some 25 years ago (that would be 35 years ago now, as of 2015), in Stowe, Vermont, where he shared a warehouse with Andrew Marks. He later created Briar Workshop with Jorg Jemelka, and was joined by the Danish designer Finn Meyan Andersen. They also collaborated with various artisans, such as Brad Pohlmann, J.T. Cooke, and Carol Burns.
Between 1980 and 1983, Elliot had a shop in New York where he would make and sell his pipes There then followed an interregnum — “For three years I was away from my craft, not knowing if I would ever make pipes again” –, after which he returned to Vermont and built Pipestudio. Aim: “to create sensual pipes, beautifully grained that are pleasing to the eye” and which would be “the creation of sculpted smoking instruments that are functional pieces of art”.
He uses Briar from Italy and Greece; and vulcanite, acrylic, or Cumberland stems. Symbol: a kind of six-pointed star…
…In 1980 I opened a store in New York City and designed and made pipes in the back of the store for pipe smokers that visited me from around the world. I worked late into the night. There came a time when I felt the need to stop making pipes. For three years I was away from my craft, not knowing if I would ever make pipes again. Something was missing. Perhaps I was missing the struggle of the creative process and the pure joy that one feels when you make something turn out exactly as imagined in your mind’s eye. I suppose I needed to make pipes; I needed to work late into the night.
In the autumn of ’96 as the falling leaves mixed with the early snowfall, I built a small studio overlooking the Battenkill and surrounded by the Taconic and Green mountains.
It is my desire to create sensual pipes, beautifully grained that are pleasing to the eye. I work with only the rarest of briar burls that are seasoned in a manner that allows for a minimal break in period and a very smooth smoking pipe. The briar grows in the wild and there is a remarkable difference in grain between each block . This variance of grain together with the myriad of designs in my mind and the nature of the work, makes for truly one of a kind pipes. The essence of my work is in the creation of sculpted smoking instruments that are functional pieces of art.
I turned to the section on Pipedia on the Briar Workshop to gather more information on this particular pipe (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Briar_Workshop). I quote below:
Through the years they had several talented crafts people working with them including Brad Pohlmann, Jim Cooke (J.T. Cooke), and Carole Burns. They made many pipes that were sold by fine tobacconists around the country. At some point, the Briar Workshop moved to Florida, and the nature of the work changed, along with the pipe makers involved.
While The Briar Workshop was in Vermont, it acquired turn of the century pipemaking equipment as part of a collaborative arrangement with Ehrlich’s of Boston. Jemelka modified this machinery to enable the production of true copies of handmade pipes. This methodology distinguishes Briar Workshop Florida from Briar Workshop Vermont.
Nachwalter and Brad Pohlmann continued in providing designs for batch production as well as hand-made ‘one-offs’ for sale.
It would seem the Briar Workshop and the pipemakers involved played a significant part in laying the groundwork that launching the American hand made pipe making tradition, which has since exploded.
The site also had a photo of the stamp on the left side of the shank that is identical to the one I am working on.Jeff had thoroughly cleaned up the pipe. He reamed the pipe with a PipNet Pipe Reamer and cleaned up the remnants with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the bowl with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap with a tooth brush. He rinsed it under running warm water to remove the soap and grime. He cleaned out the inside of the sump in the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the exterior of the stem with Soft Scrub to remove as much of the oxidation and calcification as possible. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and rinsed it off with warm water. I took close up photos of the bowl, rim and the stem. You can see how clean the bowl and rim top and edges are. The stem is in good condition with deep tooth marks and some chatter as noted above.I took photos of the stamping on the sides of the shank. All are clear and readable as noted above. I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo to give a sense of the proportions of the pipe.I started my work on the pipe by cleaning up the inner edge of the bowl with a folded piece of 20 grit sandpaper to minimize and remove as much damage as possible.I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad to remove the grit. The bowl began to take on a rich shine. It is a beauty. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the briar with my finger tips. I worked it into the rustication and the plateau rim top with a shoe brush. I let it sit for 10 minutes and the Balm did its magic. It enlivens, cleans and preserves the briar. It brought this bowl back to life. I buffed it off with a clean cloth and took the following photos. I set the bowl aside and turned to work on the stem. I “painted” the stem surface with the flame of a lighter to lift the tooth marks. They came up considerably but not enough. I filled in the marks that remained with clear CA glue and set it aside to cure. Once cured I used a small file to recut the button and flatten out the repairs. I sanded them with 220 grit sandpaper and started the polishing process with 600 grit wet dry sandpaper. I was able to polish out the tooth marks and chatter with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem. This Briar Workshop Coral Springs, Florida Mixed Finish Elliott Nachwalter & Jorge Jemelka Dublin is a great looking pipe now that it has been restored. The beautiful finish really highlights the grain and the polished finish is stunning. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel and followed that by buffing the entire pipe with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Nachwalter Briar Workshop Dublin fits nicely in the hand and feels great. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. The weight of the pipe is 59 grams / 2.08 ounces. I will be adding the pipe to the American Pipe Makers Section of the rebornpipes store. If you are interested in purchasing this pipe send me a message or an email. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.