Form Over Function

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SlowToke
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Form Over Function

Post by SlowToke » Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:24 pm

What do you guys think of over-the-top pipes like this one? I often find myself torn between pipemaking being a craft for making practical utilitarian pipes for smoking and it being an outlet for artistic expression. I know most buy pipes for their utilitarian purposes. Do you think there is a place for pipes as art and what are the boundaries for function and form?
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by durangopipe » Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:39 pm

As far as artisan pipes go, I lean toward beautiful pipes that remain comfortably smokable.

Some less than functional, but beautiful, pipes are admirable and I enjoy seeing them. I think of them as scuIpture, but I have never been motivated to buy or own one.

The word "functional" in the term "functional art" has always shared equal importance with the word "art" for me, at least when applied to pipes. I feel the same about architecture.

My son is an architect. The same conversation occurs there.

But the stacked chimney cherrywood variation you posted a photo of doesn't seem over the top to me. It pushes the boundaries, but doesn't cross them. It's beautiful.

I've seen photos of some artisan pipes (often made by Russians) where it was impossible to figure out how find the bowl or how to smoke them.

An art historian might call them "mannerist" in the pejorative sense.
Your chimney is mannerist in a more complimentary way.

But you are definitely near the boundary.
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by hugodrax » Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:56 pm

What a wonderful idea for a topic.

I can see the beauty in pipes like the one you posted. Difficult to create, I'm sure, and visually interesting and unusual. But I'd feel an ass smoking it, and that's my test. You see, I'm a smoker. As in, for the nicotine, not the aesthetic. If I'm walking about or doing something, chances are there's a pipe in my gob. Artistic pieces are more for the connoisseur who devotes his all into the act of, to guys like me, being smoked by his pipe. In other words, totally devoted to the experience.

The perfect example for me is the Hammer pipe I stole from you. It's forward-canted hourglass shape is sculpturally quite beautiful and no one can deny the quality of its materials or workmanship. The stem is sturdy and comfortable. It even fits nicely in the hand and smokes beautifully.

But I can't smoke it in public. It's too outré for my tastes, even though every element of its form follows function. And that's the problem, right? My tastes aren't going to match another's tastes.

I guess I'm a billiard man. Boring.

I'm not the target mark for the sculptural stuff. But there's definitely a good market for it and I don't in the least say "that guy's smoking and collecting art pieces--he's wrong." It's just not my style.
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by UncleBob » Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:19 pm

More and more people buy pipes without actually smoking them (or smoking them infrequently). I imagine artists could sell pipes that are not really that functional as long as one could smoke it every so often. I would consider Talbot's Halloween work like that:
Image
Is it smokeable? Yes. Is it something one would smoke daily? Probably not, although, who knows?
Image
His Kraken seems (to me) even less functional. BTW--the briar is art but look at the stem!
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by SlowToke » Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:24 pm

That's a good point, hugodrax. It's interesting to me that the pipes that I purchase or make for myself and smoke are mostly quite mundane. The pipes that I enjoy making the most are more sculptural. The cavalier for the GKCPC contest a few years ago is a good example. I really enjoyed making that pipe and really like looking at those types of pipes and find they attractive; but I wouldn't be caught dead smoking it anywhere except around pipe collectors that would appreciate such a pipe. It's like my tastes in motorcycles. There are simple styles of bikes I would ride and then there are garage queens. I like looking at the garage queens but would never own one unless I had so much money I didn't know what to do with it.
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by UncleBob » Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:26 pm

Of course some of his pipes look even more ergonomic than traditional shapes:
Image
Image
Image
His own thoughts about this pipe:
The quality of the briar helped a lot, of course, but for this pipe the briar was really secondary to the overall design. I love tackling projects where I'm not entirely sure what the outcome will be - Doing it because it's interesting and enjoyable and intriguing, not because you hope it will sell or be a big hit. To recap my original goal, what I wanted here was nothing less than a re-imagining of the concept of the Calabash pipe - Something that was modern and dynamic, yet still classical and functional enough to equal the smoking qualities of its design forbears. To do this, I used a hollow meerschaum expansion chamber fitted into the interior of the lower wood section, where the smoke could expand, cool, condense, and provide a lighter, less biting flavor to the taste.
http://talbertpipes.blogspot.com/2011/0 ... -pipe.html
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by SlowToke » Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:28 pm

UncleBob wrote:
Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:19 pm
More and more people buy pipes without actually smoking them (or smoking them infrequently). I imagine artists could sell pipes that are not really that functional as long as one could smoke it every so often. I would consider Talbot's Halloween work like that:
Image
Is it smokeable? Yes. Is it something one would smoke daily? Probably not, although, who knows?
Image
His Kraken seems (to me) even less functional. BTW--the briar is art but look at the stem!
Good point. There are some who approach pipes as a collection of art much like one collects paintings. They buy them and display them to look at and admire and for the feelings they evoke. I suppose, if I had the kind of money to afford expensive paintings, I would rather buy sculptural pipes.
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by UncleBob » Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:46 pm

Of course, then you have the perfect blend:
Image
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by Irish-Dane » Thu Jul 27, 2017 2:32 pm

UncleBob wrote:
Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:46 pm
Of course, then you have the perfect blend:
Image
True story right there.

And Mark Price's most recent pipe, which I purchased, is a stunning piece of artistic perfection. And while I bought it because of its beauty (and paid more than I've ever paid for a pipe in my life), it also smokes like a dream.
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by FredS » Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:39 am

SlowToke wrote:
Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:24 pm
. . . It's like my tastes in motorcycles. There are simple styles of bikes I would ride and then there are garage queens. I like looking at the garage queens but would never own one unless I had so much money I didn't know what to do with it.
There it is. The world of hot rods and motorcycles is, in many ways, similar to pipes. You've got your daily drivers, your boulevard cruisers or weekend racers, and your trailer queens that tour the indoor show circuit. Most car guys or pipe guys have a daily driver that's a step or two above - and has more flair than - the utilitarian Honda Civic or Grabow Billiard. They also have a hobby car they enjoy waxing and caring for but it's not really practical to drive to work every day. A $450 handmade pipe might be in this category. Those with the disposable income go all in and get the show car - the ones that get a ton of attention, but are impractical or impossible to drive cross country. A $1200 Talbert Halloween pipe or one of the bulbous Russian pipes being made these days fit in here.

EDIT: I should note that there is much unwarranted derision from the daily driver or weekend cruiser guy towards the show queen guy. Comments such as 'I buy them to drive them' or 'Id never own a car that I'd be afraid to drive to the mall' are often hurled. It's a silly sentiment because the guy who can afford the show queen was likely a 'regular' car guy once. He likely has a garage full of cool cars that he does drive to the mall. It's just that he's able to take one step further. I'll never begrudge a man who dumps a ton of money on his hobby because it's all relative.
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by Cleon » Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:11 am

Any pipe I buy would at least have to be functional. Then, I'd smoke it.

I'd smoke the pipe you posted, Wayne. Might not be the best smoker, but you never know. Has that one sold?
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by hugodrax » Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:10 am

FredS wrote:
Fri Jul 28, 2017 7:39 am
I'll never begrudge a man who dumps a ton of money on his hobby because it's all relative.
Couldn't agree more, Fred. There should never be envy or resentment or "he or she is wrong because I like different things." That's one of the things about pipe clubs (at least the local one) that I don't like. A pipe can be ugly or beautiful depending on the person looking at it.

I also think that your use of the word "hobby" brings up a key divide between guys like me and guys buying art pieces. I couldn't call this a hobby. I'm really not a collector. To the collector, my pipes would be analogous to Honda Civics. To me, their pipes are the product of high-end coachmakers. It's not just a matter of different tastes, it's a matter of different uses.

I do like to look at them, though.
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by wosbald » Fri Jul 28, 2017 9:25 am

+JMJ+
Cleon wrote:
Fri Jul 28, 2017 8:11 am
SlowToke wrote:
Thu Jul 27, 2017 12:24 pm
Image
Any pipe I buy would at least have to be functional. Then, I'd smoke it.

I'd smoke the pipe you posted, Wayne. Might not be the best smoker, but you never know. Has that one sold?
I love stacked iterations. Of course, I make no profession — whether stacked or standard or squatted — to "smoking to the bottom". So, Y'all'sMMV.




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Re: Form Over Function

Post by Joshoowah » Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:41 pm

I believe, as others have said, there is room for both in our little hobby, habit, or whatever you call it. Personally, I do not own a pipe I wouldn't smoke. Even my more eccentric pieces from Wallenstein are smoked often and around folks. Nate's gear punk stuff always intrigued me, as I found them visually appealing in a variety of ways, but I wouldn't smoke them.

I'd smoke that cherrywood-chimney-stack-esque pipe you posted though, probably often at my desk honestly.
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Re: Form Over Function

Post by Joshoowah » Sat Jul 29, 2017 12:41 pm

UncleBob wrote:
Thu Jul 27, 2017 1:46 pm
Of course, then you have the perfect blend:
Image
The next pipe I want is one of these. Gosh, so beautiful.
"For to me, to live is Christ and to die is gain. If I am to go on living in the body, this will mean fruitful labor for me. Yet what shall I choose?" Philippians 1:21-22

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