Pipe Shapes

A Brief Exposition and Development

This is a work in progress. I began it a few years ago, and what's currently presented is that work. Since that time, I've been re-thinking some of the development, the evolution of the shapes, and will be essentially starting over during the coming weeks. There will be new photographs, and new ideas. In the interim, I've simply migrated the existing pages to the new format. Stay tuned...

The Classic Shapes

The pipes shown here are what I consider excellent examples of a particular shape, or, at least, a good representation of the shape. As new shapes are represented in my collection, the list will grow. I anticipate this being a long term project!

Danish Neo-Classic Shapes

These freehand shapes muddy the waters of taxonomy.

First, the term freehand rquires a working definition. My learned friend Tarek Manadily feels, and I agree, that the term "freeform" should be applied to pipes that have no obvious shape label, while "freehand" is more appropriately applied to pipes that are interpretations of well classified shapes. The shapes discussed here are, to my eye, well defined, though sometimes difficult to describe in terms of the classical shapes.

If we take a somewhat phylogenetic approach to defining specific taxa, seeking some sort of common ancestry for the classification of an individual shape, it becomes clear that shapes like the Blowfish can be categorized, even if not easily defined. Showing representative examples is informative, while simultaneously exhibiting the diversity of the group. Each individual is quite different from the others, much more so than any group of Billiards, for instance, but their relatedness is readily apparent. Other freehand shapes are somewhat less diverse, so it's relatively easy to choose representatives to depict the group.

A shape name is more akin to a Genus than to a species, I think. Tracking the evolution of shapes is an interesting exercise, while creating a clearly defined taxonomy proves difficult, especially among the "modern" shapes. I adopted the term "neo-classical" to provide a convenient niche for some of these shapes that have become more or less common in the modern vernacular of the pipe maker.