Sunday, February 26, 2017
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Interviews

Alexander Ponomarchuk PipesMy attraction for classic English pipes is such that I've developed a focus that only London made pipes from the 1930s through the 1970s interest me, and even more specifically really only four makes. I mentioned in my interview with Chris Asteriou that he was one of only two contemporary pipe makers who made pipes I could see myself owning. I have yet to get one of Chris' pipes, but I do keep an eye on smokingpipes to see if one of his shows up that I can't live without.
 
The other contemporary pipe maker that interests me I do own a pipe from. It's quite the anachronism on my rack, being a pipe that looks almost like a pipe S. Bang or Tom Eltang could have produced. It's a short Danish style apple with an oval shank and Lovat bit. The grain of this pipe is mind blowing. The cut of the stem supernatural. The shaping machine-like. It's the finest smoking and looking pipe I've ever had my hands on. It's just on some other kind of level from any pipe I've experienced. Pipes like that get your attention, and I've been waiting for the right pipe from this maker ever since I acquired the first one.
 
That maker is Alexander Ponomarchuk, who you can find on his website or on Facebook. Alexander is just a little bit younger than I am at 41, married in 1997 and has three children with his lovely wife Elena. They live in the Ukraine and run a small advertising agency and print magazine for their livelihood. 
 
Alexander first began making pipes in 2002 and for the last few years has an annual output of 40-50 pipes a year. His prop airplane shank stamp reflects his love of flying, and his original shape is called the Aviator. Alexander is a pilot who retired from aviation after 3600 flight hours.

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Category: Interviews

Chris AsteriouI lean dramatically to old factory pipes and am not much of an artisan pipe guy. Part of that is me rationalizing what I can afford, but at the same time I have paid artisan prices for a few of my old factory pipes. At the end of the day certain old English makes put a spell on me that doesn't wear off, and knowing this I put my money where I know it will keep making me happy after the acquisition. That, and classic English shapes are anything but dull for me. They are beautiful objects of utility that hit all my benchmarks; lightweight, shapes that showcase the interpretation of the shape and the grain, and generally excellent smokers. The slight differences between six different maker's billiards never fail to fascinate and attract me.

There have been pipe carvers that have caught my eye, but even when I see a pipe I like, if the whole catalog doesn't thrill me it kind of puts me off that pipe and I move along. There are only two contemporary pipe makers who pass that litmus test for me, and one of them is Chis Asteriou.

Chris is a young architect from Athens, and I first really became aware of his work through smokingpipes.com. Beginning seriously as a hobby pipe maker in 2007, his 2011 output was 19 pipes. In 2012, 51 pipes left his bench, and he plans on making around 60 in 2013. In addition to the Asteriou pipes you may find at smokingpipes.com and Massimo Musico's shop in Rome, Chris does accept commissions.

Much of Chris' work to date has been inspired by the English classics. I remember the first pipe of his that really knocked my socks off, a beautiful Liverpool at smokingpipes. Fantastic grain and lines that would have made Comoy's jealous. I actually had that kind of bank on account there at the time, and I agonized over that pipe and a Dunhill Chestnut billiard. I love that billiard but every time I smoke it I think of that Asteriou Liverpool and I will have to commision one from him at some point just so I can stop kicking myself for not buying it.

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Category: Interviews

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Links

tobaccoreviews.com

I can spend entire evenings reading tobaccoreviews.com

Smokers Forums

No longer the biggest or best, but still home

Chris' Pipe Pages

Great resource of old catalogs and shape charts

Pipes Logos & Markings

Resource on stem logos and stampings