Friday, August 28, 2009
WORKING ON A PIPE...AND THE MERITS OF BEESWAX
I am pleased to report that my new Savinelli Churchwarden (now dubbed Madam Savinelli) is truly a wonder. I filled it up (yeah I know I said I would only do a half bowl...so sue me) with my Peterson's Old Dublin. I had aired the tobacco for about an hour, and I used the three pinch and pack method, which I seem to be getting better at.
I went out on the deck and looked at the stars...it was fan-freakin-tastic! I enjoyed the flavour, I enjoyed the contemplation, I enjoyed the beautiful evening. The pipe burned wonderfully throughout, and I hardly had to relight at all. I tend to err on the side of puffing slowly, so I don't seem to have any tongue problems (or bite as the experts call it). Just billows of lovely white smoke and the sounds of nature.
Before and after I finished my bowl, I decided to test my research on fine tuning my Peterson Meerschaum. Using only what I had on hand, this is what I did... the inside of the bowl was black, and a little tacky. Now, I have learned that the inside of a meerschaum bowl, once smoked will turn black, so it is a bit of a sensitive matter to go poking around in there. All of the experts say that you don't want cake, but you also don't want to gut the thing down to white, or you have gone too far. So...I got some sandpaper, and ever so gently began sanding away in the darkness. I can now describe how you tell the difference. Blackened meerschaum is cool, smooth and hard to the touch, cake is not. Cake is textured, and if you are sliding your finger around in the bowl, will be sticky enough to give some resistance.
Next, I turned my attention to the outside of the bowl. I had some half burned, very high quality pure beeswax candles, that I put into a thoroughly washed can, and put on medium-low heat on my stovetop, and melted it until it was liquid. After wiping down the outside of the bowl thoroughly with a clean cloth, I used a q-tip to paint beeswax all over the outside of the bowl and shank. As it was spread it began to cool and solidify. After about five minutes, I had the whole thing covered, it kind of looked like it had a giant scab all over it. To tell the truth, I was kind of thinking "WHAT HAVE I DONE", but I figured I'd have faith and follow through with what I had gleaned from my internet research. This is where I went out and smoked my new Churchwarden.
When I came back in, I got out some nice soft cloths, a small pile of paper napkins, and my wife's hot air embossing gun. She uses it to make homeade cards and such...that I am using it to refurbish pipes is out little secret;)
Holding the bowl over the napkins I alternately heated the bowl, which melted the wax, and rubbed it with the soft cloth. Heat...rub...heat... rub... some of the beeswax dripped off and was caught by the napkins, but I was amazed that the meerschaum also seemed to drink some of it in. Again, after just a few minutes, no more heat was needed, and I was just polishing the bowl, and it simply glistened like a freshly minted dime. I swear...it smiled at me...
Tonight I decided to work a bit on the stem. When I received it, it had clearly been cleaned, but the stem was entirely brown. I looked up all the recommendations on how to clean stems, and as I mentioned before, decided to do what I could with what I had on hand. I got myself some comet with bleach, a new scrubby sponge, and a little bowl of water. I poured some comet powder into a dish, and added just enough water to make a thick paste. I sat down at my table, and for 10-15 minutes just scrubbed the stem up and down it's length. The paste began turning yellow, and I knew I was getting somewhere. the occassional rinse off, and I just kept scrubbing.
Once I figured I was done, I rinsed it all off under running water, dried it with a towel, and ran a pipe cleaner through it several times to ensure it was thoroughly dry. Then I re-heated my can of beeswax (I see no end to the usefulness of this stuff) and applied it in exactly the same manner as I had done to the bowl, using a q-tip. After letting it sit until it was totally hardened, I used the hot air gun and did the same heat and rub method. It seems to have worked like a charm. The stem is now totally black and shiny. I also used a tip I got, and rubbed a bit of oil from the side of my nose (nose oil) onto the finished and buffed stem. It may sound gross, but ZOWIE that puppy just shines!
I have to say, I went into the process of prettying up this pipe ready for a serious battle, but I have to say, it really wasn't that hard. If you are at home, thinking about it, just go for it! If you have any questions about my tiny experience, please just ask, I'd be happy to help. I have to say, that little hot air gun has been a HUGE help, I am really glad my wife is crafty. If you haven't got one...I say...GET ONE!!! You won't regret it.