Blog by Steve Laug
The next two Jack Howell pipes that I added to my collection also came to me from Robert Lawing of Lawdog’s Pipes. They were listed on a post I was reading from Robert on Facebook regarding some pipes he worked on that were for sale. There were two beautiful Jack Howell pipes – sandblast Bent Billiard with a taper stem and an unsmoked smooth fancy Bent Billiard with a shank ring that was made of acrylic horn I believe. I saw them a few weeks before my December birthday and they caught my eye. I was very interested in adding them to my collection. I have several of Jack’s pipes that I enjoy already so adding two more is a pleasure for me. I have included the link to my review of the Howell Pipes that I have in my collection if you have not seen many of Jack’s pipes (https://rebornpipes.com/2015/04/27/a-review-two-pipes-by-jack-howell-an-acorn-and-a-lovatnosewarmer/). I have also included a copy of the blog I wrote on the Straight Billiard I had purchased from Robert earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2022/10/15/adding-another-jack-howell-pipe-to-my-collection-a-great-looking-straight-billiard/).
I copied the photos that Robert sent me to look at. I wrote to Robert and we chatted and I soon was I purchased the smooth pipe pictured below. I went back and looked at them and decided to write him again and take the sandblast one as well. I had him send them to my brother Jeff. Jeff later sent it to me with some other pipes that I would need to work on. The box of pipes arrived today.Everything about these two pipes ticked my boxes. The grain around the smooth pipe and the sandblast on the second pipe were both stunning. The flow of the stem and shank were perfect on both. The acrylic horn ring on the smooth pipe worked well with the fancy turned saddle stem. Both were the size of pipe that I enjoy. They were light weight and comfortable in the hand.The shape of both are Jack’s takes on a classic Bent Billiard shape. The shape follows the grain around the sides and shank and highlights the look of the briar. Both were well designed and really show off the grain. They are beautiful pipes. Robert included photos of the underside of the shanks. The sandblast pipe is stamped Howell [over] JH [over] the year the pipe was made – 2020. The smooth one is stamped Howell [over] JH [over] the year the pipe was made – 2021. They really are great looking pipes. I turned to my previous blog (cited above) and read the information on Pipephil and decided to include it here with these two pipes (http://pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-h3.html). I included a screen capture of the material there and also included the side bar information. I remember meeting Jack at the 2004 Pipe Show in Chicago. I have included that below.Artisan: Jack Howell begun to be known after his participation in the 2004 Chicago Pipeshow.
I also turned to the article on Pipedia (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Howell) for more information and background. I quote below.
Jack Howell plays clarinet in the Pittsburgh Symphony and makes pipes part time. Except for when the symphony isn’t playing — vacation, say, or a global pandemic — then pipe production goes into gear. For current production, check out http://www.howellhandmade.com. And maybe have a look at the blog.
The following is Jack’s bio from his website:
Jack Howell, Maker
“Every rabbit needs two holes” — Jack’s Dad
I have early memories of watching my uncles whittle things with their pocketknives. I was, I dunno, six or seven years old when I started asking for a pocketknife so I could whittle. My dad said, no, I’d cut myself. But he gave me a file and access to a pile of cedar shingles that we used for kindling and said when I could make things with a file we would talk.
Perhaps that was meant as discouragement because a regular bastard file isn’t much for wood removal, but it’s not much for skin removal either, so there’s that. I set to with the file. Before too long I’d settled on my first oeuvre, a sort of Easter Island head. Which turned into the pommel of letter openers, and before long my dad gave me a knife, a Cub Scout model with one cutting blade and a can opener. I headed straight for the shingle pile, where it took me about ten minutes to cut myself.
Anyway, I’ve been making things for a long time, gradually getting to the point where I used tools with which I could no longer afford to cut myself. Along the way I became a professional musician, my manual skills coming in handy making clarinet reeds. I’ve also made knives, and bamboo fly rods (you can get a book I wrote about that at http://www.thelovelyreed.com), and other stuff. I started making pipes in 1999 and sold my first one in 2004. I went to a few Chicago and Columbus shows, was pretty visible on the old ASP forum, yada yada yada. My production has gone up and down as my musical employment has gone up and down, but for a number of years it stayed around 50 pipes a year. Once I joined the Pittsburgh Symphony Orchestra as bass clarinetist I only made a few pipes here and there on commission, because, well, I was practicing my ass off.
Recently my dad’s wisdom has become evident. When I went to dust off my website it had come unhooked from my domain host, no idea how long it had been down and nobody had said anything about it, so . . . I’m back.
Today the pipes arrived with a box from Jeff. I opened the box and unpacked the pipes that were there and in the middle of the box were the two Howell pipes. I unpacked them and turned them over in my hands. As I write this they are on the desk in front of me now and I am enjoying them both. But I still need to load up a bowl of tobacco enjoy each of the pipes personally. I have set them aside for a weekend smoke. I will probably smoke a bowl of Friedman & Pease Fool’s Cap – a rich mixture of Virginia and Perique that has a fair bit of age on it. It is a blend I thoroughly enjoy. Thank you Robert for making this possible.