versione italiana

lavorazione bozza da pipa in toscana, briar wood

 
 
 


The History of Briar

The use of briar as an ideal material to make bowls of pipes dates back to at least the 1850s. The plant it comes from is of the heather family, Erica arborea, & it grows only between 500 & 1000metres above sea level in the Mediterranean area. The bush can grow as high as 5 or 6 metres. The wood that is used to make pipes is not the trunk, but comes from the bulb of the plant situated between the trunk & roots just at the earth’s surface; it varies in size & is called “the Ciocco”. The bush must be at least 50 years old for the ciocco to grow to the necessary size, (about the size of a football, weighing around 3 kgs.)
The largest ciocco to date ever collected was found in Tuscany at the beginning of last century & weighed a good 87kg!
The bulb of the briar plant is a material that never alters; it is hard & resistant to fire & in addition has a lovely grain, that can give a sense of flames or peacock feathers & never repeats itself. Each piece is unique.
History of the Cresci family & the birth of the Maremma Pipemill.
The Cresci family has been involved in the making of pipe bowls since at least 1883; the skills of this ancient craft have been passed down from father to son. The bulbs of the briar plant that the family uses to make their pipe bowls, buchons & plateaux, all come from woods in Italy which are noted for producing ciocchi of high quality & which have good grain & consistency. The excellent quality of the wood used , together with the family’s knowledge & skills of selection & shaping allows them to produce for the market pipe blocks with the distinctive flame & peacock feather grain ideal for making pipes., both machine & hand made.

TODAY THE CRESCI FAMILY RUNS A FARMHOUSE

The Stages of Production

-The harvesting & preserving the ciocchi, firstly in the ground in the forest & then in the storeroom, where they must be sheltered from sun & wind & must be kept continually damp. At the right moment each ciocco is cleaned & all earth & stones removed with an axe

- The ciocchi are shaped with a circular saw: Firstly the central core of the bulb must be removed as it is unusable. Every cut has its purpose; a good cutter recognizes immediately the “flow” of the fibres & the way to shapethe rough block, the bouchon. His skills & the teeth of the saw find the best that each piece can give. Thus is born each bouchon, but when a ciocco shows particularly good qualities & exceptional grain it is then used to prepare a plateau, a block which utilizes the external crust of the ciocco & these are used in the production of handmade pipes

- The boiling process; Once the bouchons have been divided into groups of different models, measurement & quality they are placed in a large copper caldron & boiled in water for 24 hours so as to eliminate the tannin which could create cracks in the wood while it is drying out & this making it not sufficiently dense

- The Drying process is carried out on grates in closed, windfree buildings, until the bouchons are again controlled & divided into different measurements & then bundled into jute sacks where they continue to dry out for around 2 years before being ready to sell.

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