In my previous post I wrote about a new series of pipes I have been thinking about. The idea is simple: if a troll made a pipe what would it look like?
The Design Process
According to the hilarious Norwegian film, Troll Hunter, the combination of concrete and charcoal is irresistible to trolls. My first sketch resembled two dirty rocks. Trolls are not very bright, so I figure one wouldn’t spend much time making a pipe look very nice.
My second sketch was of a fallen tree, roots and all, with a bird house/hole as the pipe bowl (presumably the birds moved out when the troll tore the tree from the ground). The tree pipe would be smoked by a larger variety of troll. They would probably smoke a combination of tobacco stolen from a barn, charcoal, and shredded tires (which they also find irresistible).
My next series of sketches more closely resembled traditional pipe shapes — horns to be exact (sometimes called hunters). Imagine: a troll kills a bunch of sheep, or a a few goats; after the meal the remnants of ruminants are lying around; the troll grabs a horn and settles down for a nice after dinner smoke. Yum. Unfortunately (or fortunately, depending on your point of view), I don’t have a ready supply of animal horns laying around so I could not easily replicate this scenario.
A New Pipe Shape
Thinking of other shapes a troll’s pipe might take, I glanced out my window toward the pile of firewood in my backyard. I’d been to the cabin recently and cut some small, two to three inch diameter, downed aspen for firewood. The greenwood, bark still attached, struck me as having troll pipe potential. I grabbed a piece and headed down to my shop.
I made a quick sketch. I didn’t want to shape the wood too much — just lop off a piece and drill a bowl chamber. But what kind of stem and how to attach it. For a complete unrelated woodworking project I need to install some spindle legs with a tapered tenon. I decided to use this joint for the stem tenon. In fact I decide to use the same taper for the bit end too.
The pipe came together very quickly. Within an hour and a half I had the bowel shaped, all the holes bored, the bit formed, and everything buffed with carnuba wax.
The finished product follows this brief: a young Mountain King troll breaks into your cabin; among other things it breaks up your kitchen chairs and scatters your fireplace wood all over; after eating all of your cat food it leaves, taking with it a chair leg, a piece of firewood, and a tin of tobacco. Later, it makes a pipe with the absconded wood. What does the pipe look like? Hint, the pipe could also function as a bludgeoning device.
The finished pipe very closely resembled the carvers mallet sitting on my workbench, so, “mallet” is what I call this new pipe shape.
The green poplar wood bowl and maple stem smoked quite well, surprisingly. I think it will take a while to break in though. The mallet shape, while a little to unwieldily to hang between my teeth (a real troll could probably manage), rests wonderful in the palm of my hand, the thumb and middle finger wrapping around the barrel, and the index finger cupping the end. When packed and lit the mallet can be temporarily set on the end face while you tend to other business (troll business, I suppose).
I smoked the same Royal Coachman tobacco I have been smoking in my Brigham Voyageur. I’m becoming less a fan of this blend as time goes on. Time for a visit to Epicure to pick up something different. I’m not yet a connoisseur of tobacco so it might be hit and miss for a while. I can’t yet describe what I do or don’t like about a particular blend. Some ingredient in Royal Coachman just doesn’t agree with me. If you have any hints, let me know.
Today I probably won’t be making pipes. Today I will be making pies (similar spelling, but moderately different result). Pumpkin and apple. Not troll. It’s (Canadian) Thanksgiving today. Happy Thanksgiving. Happy pipes. Happy trolls.
P.s. Whatever becomes of this pipe, I will always have fond memories of it because it was while smoking the Troll Mallet for the first time that I figured out how to blow smoke rings!