I have an idea for a TV reality show, inspired by one of my wife’s favorites, Project Runway. I call it Project Pipe-Making. Over the season several aspiring pipe makers would be given a series of challenges for which they would be judged by a panel of established pipe makers and collectors. Contestants might be challenged to make particular classical shapes, freehands, smooths, carveds, sandblasts, straights, bents, churchwardens, etc. They might be required to use different pipe materials (briar, cherrywood, pear, clay, meerschaum, corn cob, etc.) and stem materials (vulcanite, acrylic, ebonite). Other criteria could be also used. The contestants would have access to high-grade tools and machines, just as contestants on fashion-design and cooking shows do.
The contestants would then be judged on craftsmanship, aesthetics, and originality. A stunning prize would await the winner. This would be a great way to give a boost to up-and-coming pipe makers. Something similar could be done for tobacco blenders, but that would be less interesting for viewers, I’m afraid.
I realize that in our anti-tobacco culture this idea has as much chance of being accepted by a television network as a sitcom about an inept Nazi POW camp. (Hey, wait a minute!) I thought it was worth proposing it anyway.
A documentary on tobacco pipes is in the works. It’s called “Father the Flame,” and the project is exciting. You can see trailers and get other information at the “Father the Flame” website. Here’s how the documentary is described there:
Father The Flame follows Lee Erck, a world-renowned pipe maker from far Northern Michigan, as he travels the globe to explore the nearly forgotten art of tobacco pipe making. Featuring a charming cast of characters—from the royal family of Danish pipe makers, to the Italian briar cutter known as the world’s greatest, to a fourth-generation Native American peace pipe maker— this story speaks to a slower pace of life, a luxury in our sped-up world. Beautiful, hypnotic, and contemplative, Father the Flame immerses the viewer in the historical, cultural, and spiritual significance of the tobacco pipe and what it can teach a modern generation about legacy and the things we leave behind.
Judging by the trailers, the production is superb. The website explains how you can contribute to the completion and marketing of “Father the Flame,” entitling you to download the documentary when it is finished and have your name in the credits. (I’ve done this.)
I hope you’ll check it out and spread the word.