Published: 05 June 2013
Published: 15 April 2013
I 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.