Tag Archives: John Calich Pipes

Restoring Calich  Second #7 Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

John Calich

The next pipe on the work table is a pipe I traded for in a recent Boxpass here in Canada. A Boxpass is made up of samples as well as tins of tobacco that are sent around to various pipe folk to sample, take out and put back tins of tobacco or pipes. It is a great way to try tobaccos you have not had as well as to trade pipes that you want to pass on to others and take out one that you want to try out. This particular pipe came to the box from Eric who say it is a great smoking pipe that his pipe mentor picked up from John Calich himself. This one is a bent Freehand shaped pipe. It has some nice mixed grain around the bowl and shank with a vulcanite stem. It was stamped on the left side of the shank and reads Calich [over] Second followed by the number 7. The rim top is smooth and the shank end is also smooth with a patch of plateau on the right surface of the shank end. The finish was clean but was a flaw on the top back edge of the bowl on the right. There was a light cake in the bowl and some darkening and lava around the inner edge. The fancy turned vulcanite stem lightly oxidized and there was some deep tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides.

Before I started working on it I did a bit of reading about the brand to remind myself of what I knew of the maker. I turned to Pipephil’s site first (http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c1.html). I did a screen capture of the information on the site. I did a screen capture of the pertinent information and have included it below. I quote the side bar: Artisan: John Calich († 2008) Early grading: 3 – 14. By the late 1980’s Calich introduced 15,16, and even one 17. In the mid-90’s the grade system changed employing a number of E’s. Last gradings: 3E – 7E (10E was the top level but levels exeeding 7E or 8E never have been used) Production (2005): 200-500 pipes/year

I then turned to Pipedia and read the article on the Calich brand to remind myself of the maker (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Calich). I have included it in full below.

John Calich was one of Canada’s finest carvers. He died in July 2008.

John was a full time pipe maker for the last 40 years. Calich pipes were mostly traditional shapes. His signature style is rustication and smooth on the same pipe along with his unique skill to stain a pipe in contrasting colors. He used only top quality Grecian and Calabrian briar. The mouthpieces are hand finished Vulcanite “A”. Each pipe was entirely made by hand. John Calich was featured in the summer 2005 issue of Pipes & Tobacco.

I have always appreciated John’s pipes and have quite a few in my collection. This is the first Second that I have seen and it comes with the story attached from Eric. Now it was time to clean up this pipe and get it restored. I cleaned the pipe with the methodology that Jeff and I have developed. The pipe was in decent condition when I took it out of my box so the cleanup would be straight forward. I took some photos of the pipe before I started my work on it. You can see that it is classic shaped bent billiard with a mix of grain around the bowl. The finish was surprisingly clean and quite pretty. I took some close up photos of the rim top and the stem surface. I wanted to show the condition of the cake in the bowl and look of the rim top. I also took close up photos of the stem to show the deep tooth marks, light oxidation and general condition of the stem surface.  There were deep tooth marks on the top and under side of the stem near the button.    I took a photo of the stamping on the side of the shank. It is readable as noted above. I removed the stem for the shank and took a photo of the bowl and stem to give a picture of what it looked like. I reamed the bowl to deal with a light buildup of cake around the bottom third of the bowl. The rest of the bowl was quite clean. I chose to use a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. I sanded the inside of the bowl with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel. Once I finished the bowl was smooth and clean.  I scrubbed out the internals of the shank and the airway in the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean.    The flaw on the right rear top edge needed to be dealt with.  This is probably what made the pipe a second. It was not deep but it was bothersome to my touch as I held the bowl. I filled in the flaw with clear super glue.   Once the repair cured is sanded it with 220 grit sandpaper to blend it into the surrounding surface. There was some darkening and nicks on the inner edge of the rim and the rim top. I used a folded to piece of 220 grit sandpaper to give it a slight bevel and smooth out the damage.   I scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime on the briar. The finish looks very good with good looking grain around the bowl and shank. Once it is polished it will come to life.   I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl off after each pad with a damp cloth.   I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth and shoe brush to raise the shine.      I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I filled in the tooth dents next to the button on both sides of the stem with Black Super Glue and set the stem aside to let the glue cure.   I sanded the stem surface with 220 grit sandpaper to blend in the repairs and remove the light oxidation and to blend the repairs into the surface of the stem. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.     I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each sanding pad.     This restored Calich Second 7 turned out to be a nice looking pipe. The rich medium brown stain on the pipe worked really well with the polished vulcanite fancy stem. 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 stem multiple coats of carnauba wax on the buffing wheel keeping a light touch on the buffing wheel for the bowl. I 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 Calich Bent Freehand is shaped to sit comfortably in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inches, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Now that it is cleaned up it is time to load it up and enjoy a bowl. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it.

Another Calich on the Worktable – a Grade 11, 1988 Oval Shank Dublin


Blog by Steve Laug

After I had finished the last of Ken Bennett’s estate Calich pipes my friend Alex sent me an email about a Calich oval shank canted Dublin that he thought would be a good match to the Calich pipes from Ken’s estate. Last week we got together for a visit and so that he could drop off some pipes for me to work on and some pipes that he wanted to trade. The Calich was one of them. This pipe had a classic Calich look to it. There was a grooved channel on the front and on the right side of the bowl – kind of a fluted look. The finish was dull and would need to be buffed to polish it. The shape of the bowl followed the beautiful grain of the briar – flame and straight grain around the bowl and some swirls and birdseye as well. The rim top was plateau and canted toward the front. The smooth bowl seemed to have medium brown stain that made the grain pop. Over time John’s pipes take on a rich patina. The bowl had a light cake in it and there was some darkening on front and back side of the plateau rim top. Otherwise the rim top and edges of the bowl looked to be in excellent condition. The stamping on the underside of the shank read G followed by CALICH over Hand Made. After that stamping there was a superscript 88 stamped (year it was carved) with a subscript 11 which was the grade number. The stem has a single metal dot in the top of the saddle. There were some light tooth marks on both sides of the stem on both sides near the button. The shank and stem were dirty inside. I took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the darkening and light lava on the inner edge of the rim top. The cake was thin along the edges of the bowl but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. Otherwise it looks pretty good. I also took photos of the stem to show the oxidation on both sides and the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button.  I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the condition of the stamping. You can see that just ahead of the Calich stamp over Hand Made is the letter G. After the “H” in Calich is a superscript 88 and a subscript 11.Once again I am including some information about John Calich the pipemaker as I have loved John Calich’s pipes for over 25 years now and have collected a few of them. I have restored quite a few of them and written blogs about them that can be read if you are interested in seeing the kind of pipes that John made. They are unique and beautiful. Each one of them is a work of art to me. I have written blogs on all of Ken Bennett’s Calich pipes and several others that I have in my own collection. Do a quick search on the blog if you are interested in reading about them.

John Calich, courtesy Doug Valitchka

When John was living I spoke with him several times via phone and had him make some new stems for some of his pipes that I picked up off eBay. He was a very kind gentleman and was always helpful when I spoke with him. He was always ready with encouragement and when I needed to know how to do something when I was first learning to repair pipes he was willing to help. He was one of the old guard of Canadian Pipe makers. I miss him. I am including a short piece from Pipedia on John to give details on his work and the grading of his pipes. The second paragraph below is highlighted in blue as it gives some information on the Grade 12 Apple that I am working on with the single silver dot now.

John Calich was one of Canada’s finest carvers. He died in July 2008. John was a full time pipe maker for the last 40 years. Calich pipes were mostly traditional shapes. His signature style is rustication and smooth on the same pipe along with his unique skill to stain a pipe in contrasting colors. He used only top quality Grecian and Calabrian briar. The mouthpieces are hand finished Vulcanite “A”. Each pipe was entirely made by hand. John Calich was featured in the summer 2005 issue of Pipes & Tobacco.

His pipes are graded 3E – 7E. Retail prices range from$ 145.00 to $ 500.00 Each pipe is stamped “CALICH” 3-8E, his earlier pipes were graded from 3-14, and a single, tiny silver dot is applied to the top of the stem (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Calich).

From my other blogs I was able to garner quite a bit of information on John’s grading system. As noted above the newer ones carried a 3E-7E stamp but the earlier ones were graded 3-14. The retail prices for them ranged from $145.00 to $500.00. Each of the earlier pipes was stamped “CALICH” and pipes were graded from 3-14 and had a single, tiny silver dot applied to the top of the stem. More information can be found at the Pipedia article above. All of this information told me as expected that the pipe I had was an earlier one.

Armed with the facts that I am dealing with a 1988 pipe made by one of my favourite Canadian pipe makers it was time to get back to work on the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape back the cake to briar. I finished my cleanup of the walls by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.   I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and rinsed it off with warm running water. I scrubbed the rim top with a tooth brush and warm running water at the same time. I dried the bowl off with a soft microfiber cloth and gave it a light buffing. The photos show the cleaned briar and the grain is really beginning to pop. John once again really followed the grain on the shaping of this pipe.  I worked on the internals. I scraped the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the hardened tars and oils that lined the walls of the shank. Once I had that done I cleaned out the airway to the bowl, the mortise and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. When I finished the pipe smelled very clean. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the tooth chatter and marks on both sides at the button. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.  I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.     Alex’s Calich is a similar style to the pipes from Ken’s Estate that I worked on. It is a beautifully grained Canted Dublin Hand Made with an oval shank and saddle stem. It has the kind of beauty I have come to expect from John’s pipes with plateau on the rim top and the fluted front and right side of the bowl. I am excited to be on the homestretch with this. This is the part I look forward to when each pipe comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 straight and flame grain on the sides of the bowl and birdseye and swirled grain on the front and back side of the bowl is quite stunning. The plateau on the rim top was originally natural though had been darkened over time. The polished smooth finish look really good with the black vulcanite. This Calich Hand Made was another fun pipe to bring back to life. The medium brown finish and the plateau rim top makes this Canted Dublin pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is entire estate was interesting to bring back to life.

Restoring a Final Calich from Ken Bennett’s Estate – Grade 12 Freehand


Blog by Steve Laug

Early in August I received an email from an interesting woman on Vancouver Island regarding some pipes that she had for sale. She was looking to sell the pipes from her late husband Ken and one from her Great Grandfather. Here is her email:

I have 5 John Calich pipes that date from 1979 to 1981. One is graded 11 and the other four are graded 12. I had bought them as Christmas and birthday gifts for my late husband. He was a very light smoker for a 3 year period.

I am a wood sculptor and always admired the grain and shapes of John’s best pipes. John was a friend as well. We exhibited at many exhibitions together for over 25 years.

I am wondering if you can provide any information on how I might be able to sell them.

Thanks you for any help you might be able to provide

I wrote her back and told I was very interested in the pipes that she had for sale and asked her to send me some photos of the lot. She quickly did just that and we struck a deal. I paid her through an e-transfer and the pipes were on their way to me. They arrived quite quickly and when they did I opened the box and found she had added three more pipes – a Brigham, a Dr. Plumb and a WDC Milano. There was also a wooden cigar box in the package that housed the Calich pipes. They are all lovely looking freehand style shapes – even the two apple shaped pipes had a freehand twist to them. The package also had the BBB Gourd Calabash that I have written about earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/27/breathing-new-life-into-a-bbb-gourd-calabash-with-an-amber-stem/). Pat sent me photos of each of the pipes before the deal was struck so I could see the pipes before I made a decision. I kept the photos that she sent me. I have included the two photos of this pipe that she sent me below.I wrote to Pat and asked her if she would be willing to write short remembrance of her late husband and her Great Grandfather. She wrote that she would be happy to write about them both. In her email she included a story about John Calich that I really enjoyed. I decided it was well worth including in this second blog about these Calich pipes.

My best John story is one you won’t likely be able to print.  We were set up beside each other in the late seventies at the Ottawa Tulip Festival in army tents. It was cold and wet. John always had a jar of good tobacco that he shared with past and prospective customers.  One morning a guy that looked like he was dirt poor started chatting with John. He pulled out his cheap pipe and stuffed it too full of the expensive tobacco and then asked John for a light. As he walked away John muttered under his breath to me “I’d like to give him a kick in his pants to get him puffing”

I had to laugh because in conversations I had with John we had some great laughs. He was a real character and this was truly a fitting reminder for me as I was preparing to work on the pipes.

I wrote to Pat again and told her I was thinking of restoring her husband, Ken’s pipes next. She is working on a piece for me but sent along a great story and a photo in case I “need some inspiration while you work”. I have also included that photo and the story below. It indeed was an inspiration and gave me an idea on what pipe to work on first. Here are Pat’s words:

I’d like you know that Ken was an incredibly talented and creative man with a smile and blue eyes that could light up a room. His laugh was pure magic. He could think outside the box and come up with an elegant solution to any problem…

Pat sent me this reflection on her husband Ken’s life. Thanks Pat for taking time to do this. I find that it gives another dimension to the pipes that I restore to know a bit about the previous pipeman. Pat and Ken were artists (Pat still is a Sculptural Weaver) and it was this that connected them to each other and to John Calich. Here are Pat’s words.

Here is the write up for Ken. We meet in University and it was love at first sight. I consider myself blessed to have shared a life together for 37 years.

Ken graduated from Ryerson University with Bachelor of Applied Arts in Design in 1975.

Ken lived his life with joy.  Each day was a leap of faith in the creative process. His smile would light up the room and the hearts of the people he loved.

He combined the skilled hands of a master craftsman, with the problem solving mind of an engineer, and the heart and soul of an artist. He used his talents to create unique and innovative wood sculptures. Using precious hardwoods, he incorporated the techniques of multiple lamination and three dimensional contouring to create sculptural pieces that captivate the eye and entice the hand to explore.

His career was highlighted by numerous corporate commissions, awards and public recognition in Canada and abroad.

A quote from Frank Lloyd Wright sums up Ken’s approach to design.  “Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be joined as one in a spiritual union.” 

A friendship with John Calich developed over years of exhibiting their work at exhibitions. How could a wood sculptor resist some of John’s finest creations…

Pat had included the top of a box that Ken had kept from the pipes he had purchase from John. This fifth Calich pipe also had a very interesting Danish style shape. It is a freehand that I would call a Danish style Dublin Freehand with beautiful grain and a dull finish due to sitting unused in storage. There were some white paint flecks on the sides of the briar. The rim top and the shank end were both plateau. The smooth bowl seemed to have a natural finish almost like oil – I like the way John’s pipes take on a rich patina as they age. The bowl had a cake in it and there was a lava overflow onto the plateau rim top almost filling in the grooves of the plateau and darkening the natural finish. The rim top and edges of the bowl looked to be in excellent condition under the lava. The stamping on the left side of the shank was very faint but under a bright light read CALICH over Hand Made. After that stamping there was a superscript 80 stamped (year it was carved) with a subscript 12 which was the grade number. This was all confirmed by Pat as she had purchased the pipe for her husband Ken. The stem was lightly oxidized as was the single metal dot in the top of the saddle. There was oxidation and light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem on both sides near the button. The shank and stem were dirty inside. I took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up in the grooves of the plateau rim top and inner edge of the rim top. It is quite thick and darkens the natural finish of the rim top. The cake was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. Otherwise it looks pretty good. I also took photos of the stem to show the oxidation on both sides and the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button.    I took a photo of the left side of the shank to show the condition of the stamping. You can see the Calich stamp over Hand Made. Below that is the number 11 with the number 80 above that. The second photo shows the plateau finish on the rim top and shank end. The natural finish of the plateau on the shank end is what clued me to the fact that the rim top probably started that way as well. I decided to include a bit about John Calich the pipemaker as I have loved John Calich’s pipes for over 25 years now and have collected a few of them. I have restored quite a few of them and written blogs about them that can be read if you are interested in seeing the kind of pipes that John made. They are unique and beautiful. Each one of them is a work of art to me. I am including the links to the previous blogs that have written about his pipes.

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/23/i-am-the-happy-owner-of-an-unsmoked-pipe-by-the-late-john-calich/

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

https://rebornpipes.com/2014/03/21/reflecting-on-my-collection-of-john-calich-pipes/

Each of the blogs reflects on John’s pipes if you want to get a feel for them take a few minutes and read them.

When John was living I spoke with him several times via phone and had him make some new stems for some of his pipes that I picked up off eBay. He was a very kind gentleman and was always helpful when I spoke with him. He was always ready with encouragement and when I needed to know how to do something when I was first learning to repair pipes he was willing to help. He was one of the old guard of Canadian Pipe makers. I miss him. I am including a short piece from Pipedia on John to give details on his work and the grading of his pipes. The second paragraph below is highlighted in blue as it gives some information on the Grade 12 Apple that I am working on with the single silver dot now.

John Calich, courtesy Doug Valitchka

John Calich was one of Canada’s finest carvers. He died in July 2008. John was a full time pipe maker for the last 40 years. Calich pipes were mostly traditional shapes. His signature style is rustication and smooth on the same pipe along with his unique skill to stain a pipe in contrasting colors. He used only top quality Grecian and Calabrian briar. The mouthpieces are hand finished Vulcanite “A”. Each pipe was entirely made by hand. John Calich was featured in the summer 2005 issue of Pipes & Tobacco.

His pipes are graded 3E – 7E. Retail prices range from$ 145.00 to $ 500.00 Each pipe is stamped “CALICH” 3-8E, his earlier pipes were graded from 3-14, and a single, tiny silver dot is applied to the top of the stem (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Calich).

I summarize the dating information from those blogs now: From my research and conversations I learned that John’s his later pipes were graded 3E – 8E. The retail prices for them ranged from $145.00 to $500.00. Each pipe was stamped “CALICH” and given an E grade. His earlier pipes were graded from 3-14 and had a single, tiny silver dot applied to the top of the stem. More information can be found at the Pipedia article above. All of this information told me as expected that the pipe I had was an earlier one.

Armed with Pat’s stories of John and her husband Ken and the information about John’s grading system it was time to work on the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe reamer using the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar so that I could check out the inside walls. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape back the remaining cake. I finished my cleanup of the walls by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.      I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and rinsed it off with warm running water. I scrubbed the rim top with a tooth brush and warm running water at the same time. I dried the bowl off with a soft microfiber cloth and gave it a light buffing. The photos show the cleaned briar and the grain is really beginning to pop. John once again really followed the grain on the shaping of this pipe.  I worked on the internals. I scraped the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the hardened tars and oils that lined the walls of the shank. Once I had that done I cleaned out the airway to the bowl, the mortise and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. When I finished the pipe smelled very clean. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.   I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.   I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up).    I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. This is the fifth and final Calich from Ken’s Estate that I am working on. It is another beautifully grained Danish style Freehand shaped Hand Made. It has the kind of beauty I have come to expect from John’s pipes with plateau on the rim top and shank end. I am excited to be on the homestretch with Ken’s estate. This is the part I look forward to when each pipe comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 straight and flame grain on the sides of the bowl and birdseye grain on the front and back side of the bowl. The grain is really quite stunning. The plateau on the rim top and shank end was also natural though had been darkened over time. The polished smooth finish look really good with the black vulcanite. This Calich Hand Made was another fun pipe to bring back to life because of the story that Pat shared with us. The connection between Ken and Pat and John Calich adds colour. The natural finish and the plateau rim top and shank end makes this Danish style pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 ¼ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is entire estate was interesting to bring back to life.   

Restoring a Fourth Calich from Ken Bennett’s Estate – Grade 11 (80) Canted Egg


Blog by Steve Laug

Early in August I received an email from an interesting woman on Vancouver Island regarding some pipes that she had for sale. She was looking to sell the pipes from her late husband Ken and one from her Great Grandfather. Here is her email:

I have 5 John Calich pipes that date from 1979 to 1981. One is graded 11 and the other four are graded 12. I had bought them as Christmas and birthday gifts for my late husband. He was a very light smoker for a 3 year period.

I am a wood sculptor and always admired the grain and shapes of John’s best pipes. John was a friend as well. We exhibited at many exhibitions together for over 25 years.

I am wondering if you can provide any information on how I might be able to sell them.

Thanks you for any help you might be able to provide

I wrote her back and told I was very interested in the pipes that she had for sale and asked her to send me some photos of the lot. She quickly did just that and we struck a deal. I paid her through an e-transfer and the pipes were on their way to me. They arrived quite quickly and when they did I opened the box and found she had added three more pipes – a Brigham, a Dr. Plumb and a WDC Milano. There was also a wooden cigar box in the package that housed the Calich pipes. They are all lovely looking freehand style shapes – even the two apple shaped pipes had a freehand twist to them. The package also had the BBB Gourd Calabash that I have written about earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/27/breathing-new-life-into-a-bbb-gourd-calabash-with-an-amber-stem/). Pat sent me photos of each of the pipes before the deal was struck so I could see the pipes before I made a decision. I kept the photos that she sent me. I have included the two photos of this pipe that she sent me below.    I wrote to Pat and asked her if she would be willing to write short remembrance of her late husband and her Great Grandfather. She wrote that she would be happy to write about them both. In her email she included a story about John Calich that I really enjoyed. I decided it was well worth including in this second blog about these Calich pipes.

My best John story is one you won’t likely be able to print.  We were set up beside each other in the late seventies at the Ottawa Tulip Festival in army tents. It was cold and wet. John always had a jar of good tobacco that he shared with past and prospective customers.  One morning a guy that looked like he was dirt poor started chatting with John. He pulled out his cheap pipe and stuffed it too full of the expensive tobacco and then asked John for a light. As he walked away John muttered under his breath to me “I’d like to give him a kick in his pants to get him puffing”

I had to laugh because in conversations I had with John we had some great laughs. He was a real character and this was truly a fitting reminder for me as I was preparing to work on the pipes.

I wrote to Pat again and told her I was thinking of restoring her husband, Ken’s pipes next. She is working on a piece for me but sent along a great story and a photo in case I “need some inspiration while you work”. I have also included that photo and the story below. It indeed was an inspiration and gave me an idea on what pipe to work on first. Here are Pat’s words:

I’d like you know that Ken was an incredibly talented and creative man with a smile and blue eyes that could light up a room. His laugh was pure magic. He could think outside the box and come up with an elegant solution to any problem…

Pat sent me this reflection on her husband Ken’s life. Thanks Pat for taking time to do this. I find that it gives another dimension to the pipes that I restore to know a bit about the previous pipeman. Pat and Ken were artists (Pat still is a Sculptural Weaver) and it was this that connected them to each other and to John Calich. Here are Pat’s words.

Here is the write up for Ken. We meet in University and it was love at first sight. I consider myself blessed to have shared a life together for 37 years.

Ken graduated from Ryerson University with Bachelor of Applied Arts in Design in 1975.

Ken lived his life with joy.  Each day was a leap of faith in the creative process. His smile would light up the room and the hearts of the people he loved.

He combined the skilled hands of a master craftsman, with the problem solving mind of an engineer, and the heart and soul of an artist. He used his talents to create unique and innovative wood sculptures. Using precious hardwoods, he incorporated the techniques of multiple lamination and three dimensional contouring to create sculptural pieces that captivate the eye and entice the hand to explore.

His career was highlighted by numerous corporate commissions, awards and public recognition in Canada and abroad.

A quote from Frank Lloyd Wright sums up Ken’s approach to design.  “Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be joined as one in a spiritual union.” 

A friendship with John Calich developed over years of exhibiting their work at exhibitions. How could a wood sculptor resist some of John’s finest creations…

Pat had included the top of a box that Ken had kept from the pipes he had purchase from John. I used the box top as a back drop for the photos of the pipe. This fourth Calich pipe also had a very interesting shape. It is a freehand that I would call a stylized egg with beautiful grain and a dull finish due to sitting unused in storage. The left side and underside of the bowl were sculpted with a groove that ran down the back left and under the shank. There was also a groove sculpted on the front of the bowl. The rim top was smooth. The smooth bowl seemed to have a natural finish almost like oil – I like the way John’s pipes take on a rich patina as they age. The bowl had a cake in it and there was a lava overflow on the rim top on the back side and darkening the natural finish. The rim top and edges of the bowl were in excellent condition under the lava. The stamping on the left side of the shank read CALICH over Hand Made. After that stamping there was a superscript 80 stamped (year it was carved) with a subscript 11 which was the grade number. The stem was lightly oxidized as was the single metal dot in the top of the saddle. There was light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem on both sides near the button. The shank and stem were dirty inside.    I took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the surface and inner edge of the rim top. It is quite thick and darkens the natural finish of the rim top. The cake was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. Otherwise it looks pretty good. I also took photos of the stem to show the oxidation on both sides and the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button.      I took a photo of the left side of the shank to show the condition of the stamping. You can see the Calich stamp over Hand Made. Below that is the number 11 with the number 80 above that. The second photo shows the plateau finish on the rim top and shank end. The natural finish of the plateau on the shank end is what clued me to the fact that the rim top probably started that way as well.I decided to include a bit about John Calich the pipemaker as I have loved John Calich’s pipes for over 25 years now and have collected a few of them. I have restored quite a few of them and written blogs about them that can be read if you are interested in seeing the kind of pipes that John made. They are unique and beautiful. Each one of them is a work of art to me. I am including the links to the previous blogs that have written about his pipes.

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/23/i-am-the-happy-owner-of-an-unsmoked-pipe-by-the-late-john-calich/

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

https://rebornpipes.com/2014/03/21/reflecting-on-my-collection-of-john-calich-pipes/

Each of the blogs reflects on John’s pipes if you want to get a feel for them take a few minutes and read them.

When John was living I spoke with him several times via phone and had him make some new stems for some of his pipes that I picked up off eBay. He was a very kind gentleman and was always helpful when I spoke with him. He was always ready with encouragement and when I needed to know how to do something when I was first learning to repair pipes he was willing to help. He was one of the old guard of Canadian Pipe makers. I miss him. I am including a short piece from Pipedia on John to give details on his work and the grading of his pipes. The second paragraph below is highlighted in blue as it gives some information on the Grade 12 Apple that I am working on with the single silver dot now.

John Calich, courtesy Doug Valitchka

John Calich was one of Canada’s finest carvers. He died in July 2008. John was a full time pipe maker for the last 40 years. Calich pipes were mostly traditional shapes. His signature style is rustication and smooth on the same pipe along with his unique skill to stain a pipe in contrasting colors. He used only top quality Grecian and Calabrian briar. The mouthpieces are hand finished Vulcanite “A”. Each pipe was entirely made by hand. John Calich was featured in the summer 2005 issue of Pipes & Tobacco.

His pipes are graded 3E – 7E. Retail prices range from$ 145.00 to $ 500.00 Each pipe is stamped “CALICH” 3-8E, his earlier pipes were graded from 3-14, and a single, tiny silver dot is applied to the top of the stem (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Calich).

I summarize the dating information from those blogs now: From my research and conversations I learned that John’s his later pipes were graded 3E – 8E. The retail prices for them ranged from $145.00 to $500.00. Each pipe was stamped “CALICH” and given an E grade. His earlier pipes were graded from 3-14 and had a single, tiny silver dot applied to the top of the stem. More information can be found at the Pipedia article above. All of this information told me as expected that the pipe I had was an earlier one.

Armed with Pat’s stories of John and her husband Ken and the information about John’s grading system it was time to work on the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe reamer using the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar so that I could check out the inside walls. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape back the remaining cake. I finished my cleanup of the walls by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.      I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and rinsed it off with warm running water. I scrubbed the rim top with a tooth brush and warm running water at the same time. I dried the bowl off with a soft microfiber cloth and gave it a light buffing. The photos show the cleaned briar and the grain is really beginning to pop. John really followed the grain on the shaping of this pipe. There was a deep gouge on the underside of the bowl, in the middle of the heel. It had sharp edges so it was not a gouge that could be raised with steam. I filled it in with a drop of clear super glue and let it cure. Once it had cured I sanded it smooth with 240 grit sandpaper and with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished it with 1500-2400 grit micromesh sanding pads. I polished the briar with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down with a damp cloth after each pad. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.    With the externals cleaned I worked on the internals. I scraped the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the hardened tars and oils that lined the walls of the shank. Once I had that done I cleaned out the airway to the bowl, the mortise and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. When I finished the pipe smelled very clean. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.    I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up).    I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.     This is the fourth Calich from Ken’s Estate that I am working on. It is another beautifully grained Egg shaped Hand Made freehand. It has the kind of beauty I have come to expect from John’s pipes with a sculpted groove on the front and down the left side of the bowl and under the shank. The rim top is smooth and angled forward. I am excited to be on the homestretch with another one of Ken’s pipes. This is the part I look forward to when it all comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 straight and flame grain on the sides of the bowl and birdseye grain on the front and back side of the bowl. The grain is really quite stunning. The smooth rim top also is covered with birdseye grain. The polished smooth finish look really good with the black vulcanite. This Calich Hand Made was another fun pipe to bring back to life because of the story that Pat shared with us. The connection between Ken and Pat and John Calich adds colour. The natural finish and the sculpted grooves on the front  and left side makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 6 inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ½ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.   

Restoring a Third Calich from Ken Bennett’s Estate – Grade 12 (81) Pickaxe


Blog by Steve Laug

Early in August I received an email from an interesting woman on Vancouver Island regarding some pipes that she had for sale. She was looking to sell the pipes from her late husband Ken and one from her Great Grandfather. Here is her email:

I have 5 John Calich pipes that date from 1979 to 1981. One is graded 11 and the other four are graded 12. I had bought them as Christmas and birthday gifts for my late husband. He was a very light smoker for a 3 year period.

I am a wood sculptor and always admired the grain and shapes of John’s best pipes. John was a friend as well. We exhibited at many exhibitions together for over 25 years.

I am wondering if you can provide any information on how I might be able to sell them.

Thanks you for any help you might be able to provide

I wrote her back and told I was very interested in the pipes that she had for sale and asked her to send me some photos of the lot. She quickly did just that and we struck a deal. I paid her through an e-transfer and the pipes were on their way to me. They arrived quite quickly and when they did I opened the box and found she had added three more pipes – a Brigham, a Dr. Plumb and a WDC Milano. There was also a wooden cigar box in the package that housed the Calich pipes. They are all lovely looking freehand style shapes – even the two apple shaped pipes had a freehand twist to them. The package also had the BBB Gourd Calabash that I have written about earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/27/breathing-new-life-into-a-bbb-gourd-calabash-with-an-amber-stem/).Pat sent me photos of each of the pipes before the deal was struck so I could see the pipes before I made a decision. I kept the photos that she sent me. I have included the two photos of this pipe that she sent me below.      I wrote to Pat and asked her if she would be willing to write short remembrance of her late husband and her Great Grandfather. She wrote that she would be happy to write about them both. In her email she included a story about John Calich that I really enjoyed. I decided it was well worth including in this second blog about these Calich pipes.

My best John story is one you won’t likely be able to print.  We were set up beside each other in the late seventies at the Ottawa Tulip Festival in army tents. It was cold and wet. John always had a jar of good tobacco that he shared with past and prospective customers.  One morning a guy that looked like he was dirt poor started chatting with John. He pulled out his cheap pipe and stuffed it too full of the expensive tobacco and then asked John for a light. As he walked away John muttered under his breath to me “I’d like to give him a kick in his pants to get him puffing”

I had to laugh because in conversations I had with John we had some great laughs. He was a real character and this was truly a fitting reminder for me as I was preparing to work on the pipes.

I wrote to Pat again and told her I was thinking of restoring her husband, Ken’s pipes next. She is working on a piece for me but sent along a great story and a photo in case I “need some inspiration while you work”. I have also included that photo and the story below. It indeed was an inspiration and gave me an idea on what pipe to work on first. Here are Pat’s words:

I’d like you know that Ken was an incredibly talented and creative man with a smile and blue eyes that could light up a room. His laugh was pure magic. He could think outside the box and come up with an elegant solution to any problem…

Pat sent me this reflection on her husband Ken’s life. Thanks Pat for taking time to do this. I find that it gives another dimension to the pipes that I restore to know a bit about the previous pipeman. Pat and Ken were artists (Pat still is a Sculptural Weaver) and it was this that connected them to each other and to John Calich. Here are Pat’s words.

Here is the write up for Ken. We meet in University and it was love at first sight. I consider myself blessed to have shared a life together for 37 years.

Ken graduated from Ryerson University with Bachelor of Applied Arts in Design in 1975.

Ken lived his life with joy.  Each day was a leap of faith in the creative process. His smile would light up the room and the hearts of the people he loved.

He combined the skilled hands of a master craftsman, with the problem solving mind of an engineer, and the heart and soul of an artist. He used his talents to create unique and innovative wood sculptures. Using precious hardwoods, he incorporated the techniques of multiple lamination and three dimensional contouring to create sculptural pieces that captivate the eye and entice the hand to explore.

His career was highlighted by numerous corporate commissions, awards and public recognition in Canada and abroad.

A quote from Frank Lloyd Wright sums up Ken’s approach to design.  “Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be joined as one in a spiritual union.” 

A friendship with John Calich developed over years of exhibiting their work at exhibitions. How could a wood sculptor resist some of John’s finest creations…

Pat had included the top of a box that Ken had kept from the pipes he had purchase from John. I used the box top as a back drop for the photos of the pipe. This third Calich pipe also had a very interesting shape. It is an a freehand that I would call a Pickaxe with beautiful grain and a dull finish due to sitting unused in storage. The front side of the bowl was sculpted with two grooves that ran from the top to the pointed heel. The rim top and shank end were plateau briar and were rugged. The smooth bowl seemed to have a natural finish almost like oil – I like the way John’s pipes take on a rich patina as they age. The bowl had a cake in it and there was a lava overflow on the plateau rim top filling in the grooves and darkening the natural finish. The rim top and edges of the bowl were in excellent condition. The stamping on the underside of the shank read CALICH over Hand Made. After that stamping there was a superscript 81 stamped (year it was carved) with a subscript 12 which was the grade number. The stem was lightly oxidized as was the single metal dot in the top of the saddle. There was light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem on both sides near the button. The shank and stem were dirty inside.   I took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up in the plateau surface of the rim top. It is quite thick and fills in the grooves and darkens the natural finish of the plateau top. The cake was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. Otherwise it looks pretty good. I also took photos of the stem to show the oxidation on both sides and the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button. I took a photo of the underside of the shank to show the condition of the stamping. You can see the Calich stamp over Hand Made. Below that is the number 12 with the number 81 above that. The second photo shows the plateau finish on the rim top and shank end. The natural finish of the plateau on the shank end is what clued me to the fact that the rim top probably started that way as well.      I decided to include a bit about John Calich the pipemaker as I have loved John Calich’s pipes for over 25 years now and have collected a few of them. I have restored quite a few of them and written blogs about them that can be read if you are interested in seeing the kind of pipes that John made. They are unique and beautiful. Each one of them is a work of art to me. I am including the links to the previous blogs that have written about his pipes.

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/23/i-am-the-happy-owner-of-an-unsmoked-pipe-by-the-late-john-calich/

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

https://rebornpipes.com/2014/03/21/reflecting-on-my-collection-of-john-calich-pipes/

Each of the blogs reflects on John’s pipes if you want to get a feel for them take a few minutes and read them.

When John was living I spoke with him several times via phone and had him make some new stems for some of his pipes that I picked up off eBay. He was a very kind gentleman and was always helpful when I spoke with him. He was always ready with encouragement and when I needed to know how to do something when I was first learning to repair pipes he was willing to help. He was one of the old guard of Canadian Pipe makers. I miss him. I am including a short piece from Pipedia on John to give details on his work and the grading of his pipes. The second paragraph below is highlighted in blue as it gives some information on the Grade 12 Apple that I am working on with the single silver dot now.

John Calich, courtesy Doug Valitchka

John Calich was one of Canada’s finest carvers. He died in July 2008. John was a full time pipe maker for the last 40 years. Calich pipes were mostly traditional shapes. His signature style is rustication and smooth on the same pipe along with his unique skill to stain a pipe in contrasting colors. He used only top quality Grecian and Calabrian briar. The mouthpieces are hand finished Vulcanite “A”. Each pipe was entirely made by hand. John Calich was featured in the summer 2005 issue of Pipes & Tobacco.

His pipes are graded 3E – 7E. Retail prices range from$ 145.00 to $ 500.00 Each pipe is stamped “CALICH” 3-8E, his earlier pipes were graded from 3-14, and a single, tiny silver dot is applied to the top of the stem (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Calich).

I summarize the dating information from those blogs now: From my research and conversations I learned that John’s his later pipes were graded 3E – 8E. The retail prices for them ranged from $145.00 to $500.00. Each pipe was stamped “CALICH” and given an E grade. His earlier pipes were graded from 3-14 and had a single, tiny silver dot applied to the top of the stem. More information can be found at the Pipedia article above. All of this information told me as expected that the pipe I had was an earlier one.

Armed with Pat’s stories of John and her husband Ken and the information about John’s grading system it was time to work on the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe reamer using the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar so that I could check out the inside walls. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape back the remaining cake. I finished my cleanup of the walls by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.  I decided to address the heavy lava overflow on the rim top with a brass bristle wire brush to start with. I would follow that up with scrubbing it under running water with the brush afterward.  I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and rinsed it off with warm running water. I scrubbed the plateau rim top with the wire brush and warm running water at the same time. I dried the bowl off with a soft microfiber cloth and gave it a light buffing. The photos show the cleaned briar and the grain is really beginning to pop. John really followed the grain on the shaping of this pipe. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.   With the externals cleaned I worked on the internals. I scraped the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the hardened tars and oils that lined the walls of the shank. Once I had that done I cleaned out the airway to the bowl, the mortise and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. When I finished the pipe smelled very clean.  I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.  I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up). I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry.   This is the third Calich from Ken’s Estate that I am working on. It is another beautifully grained Pickaxe shaped Hand Made freehand. It has the kind of beauty I have come to expect from John’s pipes with a sculpted groove on the front and the plateau on the rim top and shank end. I am excited to be on the homestretch with another one of Ken’s pipes. This is the part I look forward to when it all comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 straight and flame grain around the sides of the bowl and shank is quite stunning. There is plateau on the rim top and shank end. The polished smooth finish look really good with the black vulcanite. This Calich Hand Made was fun to bring back to life because of the story that Pat shared with us. The connection between Ken and Pat and John Calich adds colour. The natural finish and the twin sculpted grooves on the front makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 2 1/2 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¾ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

 

Restoring a Second Beautiful Grade 12 Apple by John Calich from Ken Bennett’s Estate


Blog by Steve Laug

Early in August I received an email from an interesting woman on Vancouver Island regarding some pipes that she had for sale. She was looking to sell the pipes from her late husband Ken and one from her Great Grandfather. Here is her email:

I have 5 John Calich pipes that date from 1979 to 1981. One is graded 11 and the other four are graded 12. I had bought them as Christmas and birthday gifts for my late husband. He was a very light smoker for a 3 year period.

I am a wood sculptor and always admired the grain and shapes of John’s best pipes. John was a friend as well. We exhibited at many exhibitions together for over 25 years.

I am wondering if you can provide any information on how I might be able to sell them.

Thanks you for any help you might be able to provide

I wrote her back and told I was very interested in the pipes that she had for sale and asked her to send me some photos of the lot. She quickly did just that and we struck a deal. I paid her through an e-transfer and the pipes were on their way to me. They arrived quite quickly and when they did I opened the box and found she had added three more pipes – a Brigham, a Dr. Plumb and a WDC Milano. There was also a wooden cigar box in the package that housed the Calich pipes. They are all lovely looking freehand style shapes – even the two apple shaped pipes had a freehand twist to them. The package also had the BBB Gourd Calabash that I have written about earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/27/breathing-new-life-into-a-bbb-gourd-calabash-with-an-amber-stem/). Pat sent me photos of each of the pipes before the deal was struck so I could see the pipes before I made a decision. I kept the photos that she sent me. I have included the two photos of this pipe that she sent me below.  I wrote to Pat and asked her if she would be willing to write short remembrance of her late husband and her Great Grandfather. She wrote that she would be happy to write about them both. In her email she included a story about John Calich that I really enjoyed. I decided it was well worth including in this second blog about these Calich pipes.

My best John story is one you won’t likely be able to print.  We were set up beside each other in the late seventies at the Ottawa Tulip Festival in army tents. It was cold and wet. John always had a jar of good tobacco that he shared with past and prospective customers.  One morning a guy that looked like he was dirt poor started chatting with John. He pulled out his cheap pipe and stuffed it too full of the expensive tobacco and then asked John for a light. As he walked away John muttered under his breath to me “I’d like to give him a kick in his pants to get him puffing”

I had to laugh because in conversations I had with John we had some great laughs. He was a real character and this was truly a fitting reminder for me as I was preparing to work on the pipes.

I wrote to Pat again and told her I was thinking of restoring her husband, Ken’s pipes next. She is working on a piece for me but sent along a great story and a photo in case I “need some inspiration while you work”. I have also included that photo and the story below. It indeed was an inspiration and gave me an idea on what pipe to work on first. Here are Pat’s words:

I’d like you know that Ken was an incredibly talented and creative man with a smile and blue eyes that could light up a room. His laugh was pure magic. He could think outside the box and come up with an elegant solution to any problem…

Pat sent me this reflection on her husband Ken’s life. Thanks Pat for taking time to do this. I find that it gives another dimension to the pipes that I restore to know a bit about the previous pipeman. Pat and Ken were artists (Pat still is a Sculptural Weaver) and it was this that connected them to each other and to John Calich. Here are Pat’s words.

Here is the write up for Ken. We meet in University and it was love at first sight. I consider myself blessed to have shared a life together for 37 years.

Ken graduated from Ryerson University with Bachelor of Applied Arts in Design in 1975.

Ken lived his life with joy.  Each day was a leap of faith in the creative process. His smile would light up the room and the hearts of the people he loved.

He combined the skilled hands of a master craftsman, with the problem solving mind of an engineer, and the heart and soul of an artist. He used his talents to create unique and innovative wood sculptures. Using precious hardwoods, he incorporated the techniques of multiple lamination and three dimensional contouring to create sculptural pieces that captivate the eye and entice the hand to explore.

His career was highlighted by numerous corporate commissions, awards and public recognition in Canada and abroad.

A quote from Frank Lloyd Wright sums up Ken’s approach to design.  “Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be joined as one in a spiritual union.” 

A friendship with John Calich developed over years of exhibiting their work at exhibitions. How could a wood sculptor resist some of John’s finest creations…

Pat had included the top of a box that Ken had kept from the pipes he had purchase from John. I used the box top as a back drop for the photos of the pipe. This second Calich pipe also had a very interesting shape. It is an apple with beautiful grain and a dull finish due to sitting unused in storage. The right side of the bowl was sculpted and rusticated. It was stained a darker shade of brown and black that made the rustication look almost like a sandblast. The smooth portions of the bowl had been stained with a medium brown stain – I like the way John’s pipes take on a rich patina as they age. The bowl had a cake in it and there was slight lava overflow on the rim top. There were some small nicks in the rim top and inner edge of the bowl on the front side. The stamping on the left side of the shank read CALICH over Hand Made. Below the stamping was the number 12 which was the grade number. The stem was lightly oxidized as was the single metal dot in the top of the saddle. There was light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem on both sides near the button. The shank and stem were dirty inside. I took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. There appears to be a little damage on the front and back inner edge and rim top of the bowl. There was some darkening on the back edge and top of the rim top. Otherwise it looks pretty good. I also took photos of the stem to show the oxidation on both sides and the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button.     I took a photo of the left side of the shank to show the condition of the stamping. You can see the faint Calich stamp over Hand Made. Below that is the number 12. The first photo shows the Calich stamp and a little bit of the Hand Made stamp. The second photo shows the Hand Made stamp and the Grade 12 number below that.    I decided to include a bit about John Calich the pipemaker as I have loved John Calich’s pipes for over 25 years now and have collected a few of them. I have restored quite a few of them and written blogs about them that can be read if you are interested in seeing the kind of pipes that John made. They are unique and beautiful. Each one of them is a work of art to me. I am including the links to the previous blogs that have written about his pipes.

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/23/i-am-the-happy-owner-of-an-unsmoked-pipe-by-the-late-john-calich/

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

https://rebornpipes.com/2014/03/21/reflecting-on-my-collection-of-john-calich-pipes/

Each of the blogs reflects on John’s pipes if you want to get a feel for them take a few minutes and read them.

When John was living I spoke with him several times via phone and had him make some new stems for some of his pipes that I picked up off eBay. He was a very kind gentleman and was always helpful when I spoke with him. He was always ready with encouragement and when I needed to know how to do something when I was first learning to repair pipes he was willing to help. He was one of the old guard of Canadian Pipe makers. I miss him. I am including a short piece from Pipedia on John to give details on his work and the grading of his pipes. The second paragraph below is highlighted in blue as it gives some information on the Grade 12 Apple that I am working on with the single silver dot now.

John Calich, courtesy Doug Valitchka

John Calich was one of Canada’s finest carvers. He died in July 2008. John was a full time pipe maker for the last 40 years. Calich pipes were mostly traditional shapes. His signature style is rustication and smooth on the same pipe along with his unique skill to stain a pipe in contrasting colors. He used only top quality Grecian and Calabrian briar. The mouthpieces are hand finished Vulcanite “A”. Each pipe was entirely made by hand. John Calich was featured in the summer 2005 issue of Pipes & Tobacco.

His pipes are graded 3E – 7E. Retail prices range from$ 145.00 to $ 500.00 Each pipe is stamped “CALICH” 3-8E, his earlier pipes were graded from 3-14, and a single, tiny silver dot is applied to the top of the stem (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Calich).

I summarize the dating information from those blogs now: From my research and conversations I learned that John’s his later pipes were graded 3E – 8E. The retail prices for them ranged from $145.00 to $500.00. Each pipe was stamped “CALICH” and given an E grade. His earlier pipes were graded from 3-14 and had a single, tiny silver dot applied to the top of the stem. More information can be found at the Pipedia article above. All of this information told me as expected that the pipe I had was an earlier one.

Armed with Pat’s stories of John and her husband Ken and the information about John’s grading system it was time to work on the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe reamer using the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar so that I could check out the inside walls. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape back the remaining cake. I finished my cleanup of the walls by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.      There was some darkening and damage on the inner edge of the rim that needed to be addressed. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove and minimize the damage to the edge. I polished it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the rim edge down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust on the briar. The finished rim top looked much better than when I started. I took a photo of the sanded rim top and also the inside of the bowl. The rim looks very good.     I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth.  I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and rinsed it off with warm running water. I dried the bowl off with a soft microfiber cloth and gave it a light buffing. The photos show the cleaned briar and the grain is really beginning to pop. John really followed the grain on the shaping of this pipe. I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.  With the externals cleaned I worked on the internals. I scraped the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the hardened tars and oils that lined the walls of the shank. Once I had that done I cleaned out the airway to the bowl, the mortise and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. When I finished the pipe smelled very clean. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good. I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up).   I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. This is the second Calich from Ken’s Estate that I am working on. It is another beautifully grained apple shaped Hand Made. It has the kind of beauty I have come to expect from John’s pipes with a sculpted groove and rusticated patch on the right side of the bowl. I am excited to be on the homestretch with another one of Ken’s pipes. This is the part I look forward to when it all comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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 straight and flame grain around the sides of the bowl and shank is quite stunning. There is birdseye on the top and underside of the bowl and shank. The polished smooth finish look really good with the black vulcanite. This Calich Hand Made was fun to bring back to life because of the story that Pat shared with us. The connection between Ken and Pat and John Calich adds colour. The darker finish and the rusticated sculpted side really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ¾ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 ¼ inch, Chamber diameter: ¾ of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life. 

Restoring a Beautiful Grade 12 Apple by John Calich that has a Great Story


Blog by Steve Laug

Early in August I received an email from an interesting woman on Vancouver Island regarding some pipes that she had for sale. She was looking to sell the pipes from her late husband Ken and one from her Great Grandfather. Here is her email:

I have 5 John Calich pipes that date from 1979 to 1981. One is graded 11 and the other four are graded 12. I had bought them as Christmas and birthday gifts for my late husband. He was a very light smoker for a 3 year period.

I am a wood sculptor and always admired the grain and shapes of John’s best pipes. John was a friend as well. We exhibited at many exhibitions together for over 25 years.

I am wondering if you can provide any information on how I might be able to sell them.

Thanks you for any help you might be able to provide

I wrote her back and told I was very interested in the pipes that she had for sale and asked her to send me some photos of the lot. She quickly did just that and we struck a deal. I paid her through an e-transfer and the pipes were on their way to me. They arrived quite quickly and when they did I opened the box and found she had added three more pipes – a Brigham, a Dr. Plumb and a WDC Milano. There was also a wooden cigar box in the package that housed the Calich pipes. They are all lovely looking freehand style shapes – even the two apple shaped pipes had a freehand twist to them. The package also had the BBB Gourd Calabash that I have written about earlier (https://rebornpipes.com/2019/08/27/breathing-new-life-into-a-bbb-gourd-calabash-with-an-amber-stem/).I wrote to Pat and asked her if she would be willing to write short remembrance of her late husband and her Great Grandfather. She wrote that she would be happy to write about them both. In her email she included a story about John Calich that I really enjoyed. I decided it was well worth including in this first blog about these Calich pipes.

My best John story is one you won’t likely be able to print.  We were set up beside each other in the late seventies at the Ottawa Tulip Festival in army tents. It was cold and wet. John always had a jar of good tobacco that he shared with past and prospective customers.  One morning a guy that looked like he was dirt poor started chatting with John. He pulled out his cheap pipe and stuffed it too full of the expensive tobacco and then asked John for a light. As he walked away John muttered under his breath to me “I’d like to give him a kick in his pants to get him puffing”

I had to laugh because in conversations I had with John we had some great laughs. He was a real character and this was truly a fitting reminder for me as I was preparing to work on the pipes.

I wrote to Pat again and told her I was thinking of restoring her husband, Ken’s pipes next. She is working on a piece for me but sent along a great story and a photo in case I “need some inspiration while you work”. I have also included that photo and the story below. It indeed was an inspiration and gave me an idea on what pipe to work on first. Here are Pat’s words:

I’d like you know that Ken was an incredibly talented and creative man with a smile and blue eyes that could light up a room. His laugh was pure magic. He could think outside the box and come up with an elegant solution to any problem.

I remember the day he had to “fess up” about burning a hole through the pocket in his new sports jacket that was bought for an upcoming gallery opening of our work…….of course the “real culprit” was that damn small John Calich pipe that he favoured above all others, because it felt so good in the palm of his hand and tucked neatly into a pocket.

Once again I had to laugh because I have also burned a hole in a pocket and more than few shirts from sparks from a lit pipe. I went through Ken’s pipes and found the pipe I think that she was referring to in the above story. I sent her a picture of the pipe and she confirmed that it was indeed the one she was talking about. Now I knew which one I was going to work on first. I brought the nice little bent apple pipe to my work table and took some photos before I started the clean up on the pipe.

Pat sent me this reflection on her husband Ken’s life. Thanks Pat for taking time to do this. I find that it gives another dimension to the pipes that I restore to know a bit about the previous pipeman. Pat and Ken were artists (Pat still is a Sculptural Weaver) and it was this that connected them to each other and to John Calich. Here are Pat’s words.

Here is the write up for Ken. We meet in University and it was love at first sight. I consider myself blessed to have shared a life together for 37 years.

Ken graduated from Ryerson University with Bachelor of Applied Arts in Design in 1975.

Ken lived his life with joy.  Each day was a leap of faith in the creative process. His smile would light up the room and the hearts of the people he loved.

He combined the skilled hands of a master craftsman, with the problem solving mind of an engineer, and the heart and soul of an artist. He used his talents to create unique and innovative wood sculptures. Using precious hardwoods, he incorporated the techniques of multiple lamination and three dimensional contouring to create sculptural pieces that captivate the eye and entice the hand to explore.

His career was highlighted by numerous corporate commissions,  awards and public recognition in Canada and abroad.

A quote from Frank Lloyd Wright sums up Ken’s approach to design.  “Form follows function – that has been misunderstood. Form and function should be joined as one in a spiritual union.” 

A friendship with John Calich developed over years of exhibiting their work at exhibitions. How could a wood sculptor resist some of John’s finest creations…

Pat had included the top of a box that Ken had kept from the pipes he had purchase from John. I used the box top as a back drop for the photos of the pipe. The pipe had a very interesting shape. It is an apple with beautiful grain and a dull finish due to sitting unused in storage. The bottom of the bowl was plateau that had been sanded down to knock off the high points. It appeared that the finish was oil cured and unstained – I like that about John’s pipes as with age and use they take on colour. The bowl had a cake in it and there was slight lava overflow on the rim top. There were some small nicks in the rim top and inner edge of the bowl on the right front side. The stamping on the left side of the shank read CALICH over Hand Made. Below the stamping was the number 12 which was the grade number. The stem was lightly oxidized as was the single metal dot in the top of the saddle. There was light tooth chatter on both sides of the stem on both sides near the button. The shank and stem were dirty inside.  I took a photo of the bowl and rim top to show the cake in the bowl and the lava build up on the edges of the bowl. It was thick and hard but hopefully it had protected the rim and edges from damage. There appears to be a little damage on the right front inner and rim top of the bowl. There was some darkening on the back edge and top of the rim top. Otherwise it looks pretty good. I also took photos of the stem to show the oxidation on both sides and the light tooth chatter on both sides near the button.   I took a photo of the left side of the shank to show the condition of the stamping. You can see the faint Calich stamp over Hand Made. Below that is the number 12.I decided to include a bit about John Calich the pipemaker as I have loved John Calich’s pipes for over 25 years now and have collected a few of them. I have restored quite a few of them and written blogs about them that can be read if you are interested in seeing the kind of pipes that John made. They are unique and beautiful. Each one of them is a work of art to me. I am including the links to the previous blogs that have written about his pipes.

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

https://rebornpipes.com/2019/01/23/i-am-the-happy-owner-of-an-unsmoked-pipe-by-the-late-john-calich/

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

https://rebornpipes.com/2014/03/21/reflecting-on-my-collection-of-john-calich-pipes/

Each of the blogs reflect on John’s pipes if you want to get a feel for them take a few minutes and read them.

When John was living I spoke with him several times via phone and had him make some new stems for some of his pipes that I picked up off eBay. He was a very kind gentleman and was always helpful when I spoke with him. He was always ready with encouragement and when I needed to know how to do something when I was first learning to repair pipes he was willing to help. He was one of the old guard of Canadian Pipe makers. I miss him. I am including a short piece from Pipedia on John to give details on his work and the grading of his pipes. The second paragraph below is highlighted in blue as it gives some information on the Grade 12 Apple that I am working on with the single silver dot now.

John Calich, courtesy Doug Valitchka

John Calich was one of Canada’s finest carvers. He died in July 2008. John was a full time pipe maker for the last 40 years. Calich pipes were mostly traditional shapes. His signature style is rustication and smooth on the same pipe along with his unique skill to stain a pipe in contrasting colors. He used only top quality Grecian and Calabrian briar. The mouthpieces are hand finished Vulcanite “A”. Each pipe was entirely made by hand. John Calich was featured in the summer 2005 issue of Pipes & Tobacco.

His pipes are graded 3E – 7E. Retail prices range from$ 145.00 to $ 500.00 Each pipe is stamped “CALICH” 3-8E, his earlier pipes were graded from 3-14, and a single, tiny silver dot is applied to the top of the stem (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Calich).

I summarize the dating information from those blogs now: From my research and conversations I learned that John’s his later pipes were graded 3E – 8E. The retail prices for them ranged from $145.00 to $500.00. Each pipe was stamped “CALICH” and given an E grade. His earlier pipes were graded from 3-14 and had a single, tiny silver dot applied to the top of the stem. More information can be found at the Pipedia article above. All of this information told me as expected that the pipe I had was an earlier one.

Armed with Pat’s story of the pipe and Ken’s coat and information about John’s grading system it was time to work on the pipe. I reamed the bowl with a PipNet Pipe reamer using the third cutting head. I took the cake back to bare briar so that I could check out the inside walls. I used a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife to scrape back the remaining cake. I finished my cleanup of the walls by sanding it with 220 grit sandpaper wrapped around a piece of dowel.  There was some darkening and damage on the inner edge of the rim that needed to be addressed. I sanded it with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper to remove and minimize the damage to the edge. I continued by starting to polish it with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped the rim edge down with a damp cloth to remove the sanding dust on the briar. The finished rim top looked much better than when I started. I was able to minimize the damage on the front inner edge of the rim. It is still damaged but it looks considerably better. I took a photo of the sanded rim top and also the inside of the bowl. The rim looks very good but there is also a large flaw/split in the right side of the bowl.     I decided to repair that flaw with some JB Weld (steel weld that dries hard and impervious and is heat resistant). I mixed the two parts on an old envelope with a tooth pick and press it into the flaw on the wall of the bowl. I used a dental spatula to spread out the mix across the surface around the flaw. Once it had cured I would need to sanded it smooth and minimize the footprint on the wall of the bowl. I scrubbed the briar with Before & After Briar Cleaner and rinsed it off with warm running water. I dried the bowl off with a soft microfiber cloth and gave it a light buffing. The photos show the cleaned briar and the grain is really beginning to pop. John really followed the grain on the shaping of this pipe.      I polished the bowl with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each sanding pad with a damp cloth.     I rubbed the bowl down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the briar with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect it. I let the balm sit for a little while and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. Mark Hoover’s Balm is a product that I have come to appreciate and one I use on every pipe I have been working on.   With the externals cleaned I worked on the internals. I scraped the inside of the mortise with a dental spatula to remove the hardened tars and oils that lined the walls of the shank. Once I had that done I cleaned out the airway to the bowl, the mortise and the airway in the stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. When I finished the pipe smelled very clean.  I called it a night and set the repaired bowl aside to cure. I turned the lights out and went upstairs. In the morning I sanded the repaired bowl wall with 220 grit sandpaper to remove the excess repair. I wanted to leave only the repair in the crevice in the wall and not on the rest of the wall.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to break up the oxidation. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper to remove the scratching. It is starting to look good.         I have one more tin of Denicare Mouthpiece Polish left from a few that I have picked up over the years. It is a coarse red pasted that serves to help remove oxidation. I polished the stem with that to further smooth out the surface of the vulcanite (and to be honest – to use it up).       I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped the stem down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. Once I had finished the polishing I gave it final coat of oil and set it aside to dry. This is the first Calich from Ken’s Estate that I am working on. It is a beautifully grained apple shaped Hand Made. It has the kind of beauty I have come to expect from John’s pipes with the carved groove on the right side of the bowl and the plateau on the underside of the bowl. I am excited to be on the homestretch with this beauty from Ken’s pipes. This is the part I look forward to when it all comes back together, polished and waxed. I put the bowl and stem back together. I polished the bowl and stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the scratches in the briar and the vulcanite. I gave the bowl and the stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I 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. There is straight and flame grain around the sides of the bowl is quite stunning. There is birdseye on the top and underside of the shank and on the rim top. The polished smooth finish look really good with the black vulcanite. This Calich Hand Made was fun to bring back to life because of the story that Pat shared with us. The connection between Ken and Pat and John Calich adds colour. The natural finish really makes the pipe look attractive. It is another comfortable pipe to hold in the hand. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 ½ inches, Height: 1 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 inch, Chamber diameter: 7/8 of an inch. Thanks for reading this blog and my reflections on the pipe while I worked on it. This is an interesting estate to bring back to life.

I am the happy owner of an unsmoked pipe by the late John Calich


Blog by Steve Laug

Not too long ago there was a benefit auction on TLOC (Tobacco Lovers of Canada) Facebook Group in support of the son of one of the members son was diagnosed with cancer. There were tobaccos and pipes up for auction with all proceeds going to a fund for the family. I decided to enter an auction for one of the pipes – an unsmoked smaller group two sized Calich pipe. I put in repeated bids for the pipe both because I actually wanted the pipe and because I wanted to try to drive the price up so others would bid more in support of the family. I entered bids up to the last minute, even bidding against myself and ended up winning the pipe. I was pleased to have won the pipe in that it was a double win for me – first it gave me the chance to help out a family and second it gave me the opportunity to add another Calich to my collection. I have loved John Calich’s pipes for over 25 years now and have collected a few of them. When John was living I spoke with him several times via phone and had him make some new stems for some of his pipes that I picked up off eBay. He was a very kind gentleman and was always helpful when I spoke with him. He was always ready with encouragement and when I needed to know how to do something when I was first learning to repair pipes he was willing to help. He was one of the old guard of Canadian Pipe makers. I miss him.

John Calich, courtesy Doug Valitchka

John Calich was one of Canada’s finest carvers. He died in July 2008. John was a full time pipe maker for the last 40 years. Calich pipes were mostly traditional shapes. His signature style is rustication and smooth on the same pipe along with his unique skill to stain a pipe in contrasting colors. He used only top quality Grecian and Calabrian briar. The mouthpieces are hand finished Vulcanite “A”. Each pipe was entirely made by hand. John Calich was featured in the summer 2005 issue of Pipes & Tobacco. His pipes are graded 3E – 7E. Retail prices range from$ 145.00 to $ 500.00 Each pipe is stamped “CALICH” 3-8E, his earlier pipes were graded from 3-14, and a single, tiny silver dot is applied to the top of the stem (https://pipedia.org/wiki/Calich).

The first two photos were from the auction itself and show the shape of the pipe that caught my eye. The third photo was sent to me in response to a question I asked about the size of the pipe. You can see from that photo that it is a petite pipe. The rustication on the pipe is rugged and tactile and should feel good in my hand when it heats up. John Calich always puts a silver dot on his stems as is visible in the second photo. The colours in the third photo are more accurate in terms of capturing the dark brown colour of the stain.The next photo shows the stamping on a smooth panel on the underside of the shank. It reads Calich 00 over Hand Made. Under that it reads Made in Canada followed by the letter E. Both that photo and the one that follows it show the rustication pattern on the bowl and shank.The pipe arrived about two weeks ago and the box was quite large. It made me wonder what was inside. When I opened the box I found that the fellow handling the auction had included a tin of McClellands #22 Virginia. I am thinking of breaking in the pipe with that tobacco as it is one of my favourites and it is no longer available. I took the following photos to show what it looked like. The pipe is small but will be a great Virginia pipe. The dimensions are as follows – Length: 5 inches, Height: 1 3/8 inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 1 1/8 inches, Chamber diameter: 5/8 of an inch. Like the other pipes that have, made by John Calich this is bound to be a very good smoking machine. John’s pipes are comfortable in the hand and the mouth and have an effortless draught. I am truly looking forward to loading up the first bowl of Virginia and enjoying the pipe on the weekend. Thanks for looking.

 

Restoring a Lovely Rhodesian by John Calich


Blog by Steve Laug

I have had a thing for Calich pipes since John made a new stem for a bowl I bought on Ebay for one of his pipes. It was a labour of love and one which led to several phone conversations and correspondence with John. He was a great guy and a definite loss to the Canadian pipe smoking community. Whenever I come across one of his pipes in need of work I try to purchase it and restore it. The pipe I am writing about at this time is a Calich Hand Made Rhodesian that is stamped that way on the underside of the shank. It also has a 04 stamping. The photos below were shown by the eBay seller. The bowl appears to be in great shape. The stem is slightly oxidized and the seller noted that there was a hole in the top side of the stem at the button. I knew what I was getting into when I purchased this pipe – or so I thought.Calich1I have written several blogs about Calich pipes that help give an idea of the age of the pipe. While I waited for the pipe to arrive I reread those pieces to refresh my memory on the stamping. I have included the links to the blogs below.

https://rebornpipes.com/2015/03/03/one-of-my-john-calich-pipes-a-calich-ee-billiard/

I summarize the dating information from those blogs now: From my research and conversations I learned that John’s pipes were graded 3E – 8E. The retail prices for them ranged from $145.00 to $500.00. Each pipe was stamped “CALICH” and given an E grade. His earlier pipes were graded from 3-14 and had a single, tiny silver dot applied to the top of the stem. More information can be found at the Pipedia website by clicking on this link. http://pipedia.org/wiki/Calich This information told me as expected that the pipe I had was an earlier one.

I vaguely remembered that I had found further information but could not remember it so I read the next blog I wrote. https://rebornpipes.com/2014/03/21/reflecting-on-my-collection-of-john-calich-pipes/ There the information honed in on the date more closely. I quote from that blog now: I did find out some further information on the dating of Calich pipes as the information on Pipedia was not complete. What I found was very helpful. His early pipes were graded with numbers from 3 – 14. By the late 1980’s Calich introduced 15, 16, and even one 17. In the mid-90’s the grade system changed employing a number of E’s. The more EE’s the higher the grade. From that information I knew that the pipe I had was not only an earlier one but came from early in the 1980s.

When the pipe arrived I took some photos of it to give a clear picture of what I was going to have to deal with in the restoration of this pipe. The stem was more oxidized than the seller’s photos showed and the finish also showed more debris in the rustication and the double rings around the bowl cap than had appeared in the photos. The rim top looked about the same – there was a thin build up of lava on the flat surface but the inner and outer edges were undamaged.Calich2 Calich3The bowl had a light cake in it and would be easy to deal with. There was no damage to the inner bowl. As I looked over the surface of the bowl it was clear that under the grime the pipe was in pretty decent shape. The big issue was the hole in the top side of the stem at the button.Calich4 Calich5 Calich6I took a photo of the bite through to show the extent of the damage. The edges of the bite through were also pushed down into the airway on the stem constricting the airway so that a pipe cleaner would not pass through. The topside of the button was also thinned down considerably and would need to be built up. Calich7 Calich8I used needle files and a dental pick to open up the airway and clean up the crushed edges of the bite through. It enlarged the hole but the airway was wide open when I finished. I also roughed up the edges of the cleaned up hole with the needle files to give a rough surface for the repair to bond to.Calich9 Calich10 Calich11With the stem hole cleaned up I was ready to begin the repair. I cut a wedge of cardboard and covered it with clear tape to make a surface that the glue would not stick to. I inserted it into the airway under the hole and wedged it in place. I mixed a batch of activated charcoal powder and black super glue to make a patching mortar and using a dental spatula applied the material to the hole and the top of the button to build it up. I sprayed it with some accelerator to harden the surface so I could continue to work on the pipe and removed the cardboard wedge.Calich12 Calich13I reamed the bowl with the Savinelli Pipe Knife to clean out the thin cake. You can see from the photo that there was not much of a build up so it was quick job.Calich14I set the stem aside and used a dental pick to clean out the rings around the bowl cap. I scrubbed the rustication with some Murphy’s Oil Soap to clean up the dust in the grooves and crevices of the finish.Calich15I scrubbed the top of the rim with saliva and cotton pads and was able to remove the lava on the surface without harming the finish on the bowl top.Calich16 Calich17I cleaned out the inside of the mortise and shank with cotton swabs, pipe cleaners and alcohol.Calich18By that time I was also able to clean out the inside of the stem with pipe cleaners and alcohol. The pipe cleaners went through with little issue and the stem was clean.Calich19The next morning after the glue had cured overnight I worked on the stem. I needed to reshape the slot to facilitate easy cleaning so I used needle files to clean up the entrance of the airway.Calich20I sanded the stem repair and the surface of the button top with a sanding board to begin the process of reshaping the surfaces of both.Calich21I cleaned up the edge of the button and shaped the surface of the button with needle files until the edge was sharp the surface matched that of the underside of the button.Calich22With all of the hard shaping done it was time to begin the tedious process of sanding the repairs. I started with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the surface and the transition to the rest of the stem.Calich23There were still some small holes around some spots on the fill. I used a clear super glue to fill these in and smoothed out the patch with a spatula.Calich24 Calich25When the repair had dried I sanded it with some finer grit sand papers until the surface was smooth.Calich26 Calich27 Calich28I moved on to sand the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and then giving it a coat of Obsidian Oil. I dry sanded with 3200-4000 grit pads and gave it another coat of oil. I finished by sanding it with 6000-12000 grit pads and giving it a final coat of oil. I let the oil dry before buffing the pipe.Calich29 Calich30 Calich31I buffed the pipe and stem with Blue Diamond on the wheel and then gave the stem several coats of Carnauba wax. I buffed the stem with a clean buffing pad. I gave the bowl several coats of Conservator’s Wax and hand buffed it with a shoe brush. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. The stem repair is solid and though visible to me as I have looked at it so long, it is not obvious. The pipe is useable and looks as close to what it must have looked like when John shipped it out from his shop in the 80s. Thanks for looking.Calich32 Calich33 Calich34 Calich35 Calich36 Calich37 Calilch36

One of my John Calich Pipes – A Calich EE Billiard


Blog by Steve Laug

I have liked John Calich’s pipes for a long time now. I have hunted for them and am lucky enough to have found three of them. I have done quite a bit of reading on the web and even had conversations with John before he died. From my research and conversations I learned that John’s pipes were graded 3E – 8E. The retail prices for them ranged from $145.00 to $500.00. Each pipe was stamped “CALICH” and given an E grade. His earlier pipes were graded from 3-14 and had a single, tiny silver dot applied to the top of the stem. More information can be found at the Pipedia website by clicking on this link. http://pipedia.org/wiki/Calich

I found this particular Calich pipe on Ebay. I bought it in the fall of 2005. It was still a time when you could pick up good deals on relatively unknown pipe makers on Ebay. This pipe was a nice billiard that obviously had seen some use and had a replacement stem. The fit of the stem was poor and the gap and space between stem and shank was large. The scratches in the vulcanite made the stem a real mess. I wanted the pipe but also wanted to be rid of the stem. The pipe had beautiful grain under the grime and was stamped CALICH EE over Hand Made. I bid on it and won. The EE stamping did not fit the grading information that I had found on the internet.

I wondered if John would be willing to restem the bowl for me. I figured the easiest way to work this was to have the Ebay seller send the pipe directly to John for a new stem. This added a bit of hurry into the equation if it was to happen. I hunted down John’s phone number so I could call him and ask if he would be willing to make a replacement stem for this pipe. I called and we had a great conversation on the phone. We talked about all things pipe and pipe making. It was delightful to talk together and we did so for quite a while before I got around to asking him if he would make a stem for the old billiard. He was willing and would let me know when the pipe arrived and what he would charge for it. He said to go ahead and have the pipe sent to him and he would make a new stem for it. I emailed the Ebay seller and asked him to send it directly to John Calich in Mississauga, Ontario. He gladly did so and the pipe was on its way to John.

I figured I might get a phone call letting me know. But no call came instead I received the letter that I have attached below. The letter was quite straight forward and let me know tha the had already fitted the pipe with a new stem with “better lines and slightly longer”. He states that he believes that it “might be the same as the original stem, because it is the longest stem I have in this diameter”. He goes on to say he hopes that I am pleased with his work. For a hand made stem, custom fitted to the old bowl and shipped to me across Canada John charged me only $25. I immediately sent him a cheque for the cost. I kept this letter and found it the other day as I was going through my files. I thought I would post it here with a picture of the pipe.new doc 4_1 I still remember the conversation. He asked about the stamping on the pipe and within a short few moments he told me when he had carved the pipe. For the life of me I wish I had written it down because today I cannot remember what he said. It was not too long before John called me and told me the pipe was finished. He packed it up and sent it to me. I was excited because I had not even seen the pipe in person yet. I had no idea about the real size of the pipe or the actual condition though it looked a bit rough in the photos. I couldn’t wait to see it. When it arrived in the mail I opened the package and unwrapped the pipe. John had not only restemmed the billiard but he had cleaned it up and polished it so that it shone like new. It did not even look like the same pipe. It was a cross cut piece of briar with stunning birdseye on the sides of the bowl and shank with cross grain on the front and the back of the bowl.Calich1 I did a bit more digging on the internet to find out some information on the dating of Calich pipes as the information on Pipedia was not complete. What I found was very helpful. His early pipes were graded with numbers from 3 – 14. By the late 1980’s Calich introduced 15, 16, and even one 17. In the mid-90’s the grade system changed employing a number of E’s. The more EE’s the higher the grade. This helped me understand the stamping on the billiard. Thus the pipe was a double EE grade and was made in the mid-90’s.

The last gradings that were used on the pipes were a number and an E. For example the stamping went 3E – 7E (10E was the top level but levels exceeding 7E or 8E seemed never to have been used). This information came from http://www.pipephil.eu/logos/en/logo-c1.html and has been edited for my use.