You are currently viewing 269. Peterson Rustication, Part 2: The Laudisi Era (2018- )

269. Peterson Rustication, Part 2: The Laudisi Era (2018- )

IPSD 2022 IS COMING!
Have you been certified as a Pete Geek?
There’s still time! International Peterson [er, Pipe] Smoking Day is Sunday, February 20th. This year’s theme at Peterson Pipe Notes is “Every Peterson Has A Story.” Whether you’re already certified as a Pete Geek and working for your 2022 Merit Badge or a first-timer, send your story and a photo of your pipe to mark@petersonpipenotes.org by Saturday, February 19th. For more details, see the end of last week’s post.

 

Wojciech Blaszczak

In Part 1 of this overview of Kapp & Peterson’s rustication history we looked at the Éire through Dublin eras, from roughly 1937 through 2018. When Laudisi assumed stewardship of the company, the light rustication that was already in place continued, although with the Rosslare Rusticated there was a first attempt at producing something deeper and craggier. In the first half of 2021, craftsman Wojciech Blaszczak created something new that nevertheless had roots to the company’s history.

When encountering something new, I often find myself unsure of my like or dislike. Wojciech’s work certainly fell in that category. It reminded me of the Sculpted and Aboriginal rustication done by the Marxman factory on the I.O.M. for Peterson back in the 1980s, but rougher, gnarlier. At some point—and I think it was the SH Christmas Pipes—I felt the flip switch and found myself thinking here was something that’s awesome, affordable and gnarly. The mot juste in this case is simply bad ass (see the House Pipe billiard below).  I contacted Production Manager Jonathan Fields and we arranged a zoom with Wojciech about the process.

Mark: Wojciech [pronounced voi-czech, I think], I’m so excited about the rustication you and your brother Jaroslaw have been doing that I wanted to talk to you about it, because I’m not sure everyone understands how it’s done and the skill set it takes.

Wojciech: When I first came to Peterson, I worked in the warehouse and labeling tobacco as well. After two or three years I moved to the factory to work on pipes.

Jonathan: The warehouse was getting quite a bit smaller as we changed over to Laudisi, and we needed help out on the floor so we brought Wojciech out to give us a hand, where we tried him out on one or two different jobs—that he didn’t like [laughs] —which happens. Then he tried out on rustication. At the time, I was doing it along with another lad, the lighter rustication that we had previously done at Peterson’s. Wojciech found his own way of doing the rustication, which is much better.

Wojciech: For me, the thought was that the current rustication was too flat. Some of the rustication techniques were very near a shallow sandblast. So we have a pipe—the Donegal Rocky—and I was thinking that should be rockier, deeper, which I think is better than before, more interesting.

The Donegal Rocky takes its name from the sea rocks in southwest Donegal, in County Donegal. Shown above, the famous Sea Stacks at dawn, low tide.

Jonathan: You’ll remember back in the late 1990s and early 2000s, we used to do a much heavier rustication on all the Sherlock Holmes pipes—the Pebble Rustic. And so we’re trying to get back to something much heavier.

Mark: So who else is working in rustication now?

Wojciech: Primarily myself and my brother Jaroslaw Blaszczak.

Jaroslaw (left) and Wojciech Blaszczak

Jonathan: We’re turning this into a family business again! But Wojciech is training others to do this same effect, because we want a certain uniformity here.

Mark: So let me see if I have the run down of rusticated lines currently being produced: Donegal Rocky, Aran, System, Sherlock Holmes, Rosslare, Derry Rustic. Are there any others?

Wojciech: Jekyll & Hyde.

Jonathan: Yeah, but you have to buy two to get a full rusticated (laughs).

A current Jekyll & Hyde Rustic 05

Mark: So when the company transitioned to Laudisi’s era, how soon did in-house rustication begin?

Jonathan: Well, believe it or not, we’d been doing it in house for fifteen years by that point. It just wasn’t at the level we’ve taken it to now. It had to be done quick and fast.

Mark: So Jonathan, you’re responsible for those nasty fish-scale, pineapple monstrosities?

Jonathan: It wasn’t me! (laughing) You’re talking about the rustication that looks kind of like diamonds, right?

Mark: That’s an ironic way of putting it, but yes, I guess so.

Jonathan: Those were coming in from outside. Not the bad ones, the sh***y-sh***y ones. We had to get everything out the door as quick as possible. Now Wojciech and the lads have a bit more time. They’re still on a time schedule, but it’s a much better rustic.

A phenomenal Derry Rustic 01

Mark: Wojciech, about how long does it take to rusticate a bowl using the technique we’ve seen on the Sherlock Holmes Christmas 2021, the POY 2021 and others like them?

Wojciech: Between four and eight minutes, depending on the size of the bowl. Five is the average.

A POY 2021 Rustic

Mark: As I’ve watched this technique develop over the past several months, I’ve been more and more impressed with how well the bowl shape’s integrity is being maintained. I had to have a POY 2021 in the rustic because the lines just blew me away. I’ve never seen the shape 4 with rustication like this. It’s something totally fresh.

Wojciech: I keep a smooth version of the bowl close by while I’m rusticating to help me maintain the lines.

Mark: Not so much with the rustics, but with some of the sandblasts I sometimes see a pipe and I think, “Now what shape is this?

Jonathan: If the shape gets too far off grid, you’ll sometimes see it in the Irish Seconds line.

Mark: I know sandblasting has a tiered grading system. Is there anything like that for the rustics?

A current House Pipe Rustic

Jonathan: No, although we do give thought to the line. For the Pipe of the Year, we knew it had to be just so. And Wojciech and the boys are getting so good that the other lads in the factory are complimenting the rustic—and that’s something I’ve never heard before. Before they’d comment on a sandblast when there’s a lot of grain but they’re doing it on the rustic now as well.

Mark: Off topic question: Jonathan, so if it takes five minutes on average to rusticate a bowl, how long does it take to do a sandblast?

Jonathan: I’d say about four minutes. Might add another minute to chase the grain. With a sandblast, it’s really about chasing the grain.

Stamp area, XL20 Rustic

Mark: So when you’re rusticating or sandblasting, how do you do this part on the bottom of the shank, keeping it smooth [showing the smooth surface underneath the shank where the stamps are placed]?

Jonathan: Ah Mark, now that’s tricks of the trade! We can’t be telling your readers stuff like that! [laughing] . . . It’s just a little piece of masking tape on the sandblasts. On the rustics, the lads do it by eye. Sometimes the smooth area may seem a little too big or a bit too small—that’s because it’s done by eye. Proportions are also observed, of course—a little larger for the bigger bowls, smaller for the smaller ones. And of course, whether sandblasting or rusticating, the lads have to leave a little smooth area around the top of the shank at the mortise for Jason Hinch to fit the band.

Mark: Wojciech, is the rustication done with drill bits? 

Mark: Whoa! Do you take that with you to the pub in case someone gives you a hard time?

Jonathan: Nah, look at the size of him! He doesn’t need anything like that to take care of himself. All he does is stand up and flex his shoulders the other guy says, “Oh, sorry, can I bring you a pint?”

Wojciech: Yes, we rusticate on a drill press as we rotate the stummel by hand. We match the size bit to the size of bowl and go from there.

Mark: I agree with Chuck Stanion, who wrote that “finding the right depth at the correct seemingly random angles is an art form, different for each pipe.”

Wojciech:  “I don’t want to do it very deeply because it doesn’t look good, just like too shallow doesn’t look good. And it isn’t good for the pipe to go too deep. If I have a big pipe, I can carve deeper and so use the larger bit. Some pipes are very small, so I use a smaller drill bit and have to be careful about the depth. The the rustic looks much better in my opinion if it goes a bit deeper. But it’s a fine line—not too deep and not too shallow, kind of like using a chisel.”

Mark: Wojciech, K&P has had a number of very talented craftsmen and women from Poland over the past few decades. Are you just in Dublin for a few years, or how will that work for you?

Wojciech: Actually, my brother and I just bought a house, so we’re here permanently.

Jonathan: The question you want to ask, Mark, is whether he’s going to be at Peterson’s?

Wojciech: No, we’re not going anywhere. We’re here. I’ve been at Peterson’s for six years already.

Jonathan: And he’s got a wife-to-be! I’ll let you know when so you can come to the wedding.

Mark: I’ve got to say that I really like the natural House Pipe Spigots that came out recently.

Jonathan: Yeah, the clear finish on those really shows every little detail of the rustication. Just lovely.

Mark: Jonathan, Wojciech—thanks a mill!

Wojciech: Anytime!

A current rustic Pub Pipe

 

Factory photos by Jonathan Fields, Production Manager
Stock photography courtesy Laudisi Enterprises

BONUS:
Check out fellow Pete Geek David Billing’s YouTube video on chamfering Peterson acrylic tenons!

 

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Chris T.
Chris T.
7 months ago

I’ve never been a big fan of ANY rusticated pipes from the British Isles. They all seem too… something… shallow? Uniform? Inorganic? Maybe inorganic is the best word. I do like Italian rusticated pipes. Castello being the benchmark, in my opinion. But I’d never really seen a rusticated English or Irish pipe that I particularly liked in almost 39 years as a pipe smoker and collector. I much prefer sandblasts! In all those years, I’ve owned one rusticated Northern Briars (I love Ian’s smooth pipes, but I wish he could fit a sandblaster into his houseboat!), and, long ago, I… Read more »

William Auld
William Auld
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris T.

Agree with you completely, Chris. And, likewise, it was a 2021 rusticated POY that convinced me once I had it in hand. As long as the intended shape isn’t lost, I now give them a look.

Chris T.
Chris T.
7 months ago
Reply to  Chris T.

I should say I’ve never liked MOST rusticated pipes from the British Isles. But then I remembered that I’ve always rather liked Sasieni’s Rustic finish. But it’s totally unlike anything I’ve ever seen from any other maker.

Sébastien Canévet
Sébastien Canévet
7 months ago

Another words full of priceless information for the pete geeks 🙂

Jorgen Jensen
Jorgen Jensen
7 months ago

Good morning. Just before new year a rustic xl spigot 315 caught my eyes. A long way from Dublin to Copenhagen these days but now it is here. It have the same fine rustic
as my 1890- 1990 and my SH rustics. I am very pleased.

Stan
Stan
7 months ago

These guys created a stunning things!
Thank you, Mark!

Martin
Martin
7 months ago

Another fine read on a sunday morning. Daybreak Coffee Marks Blog, I love your continuity
on this releasing articles. In fact I´m smoking a rusticated red House Pipe right now .
It is awesome how broken flakes develops in this huge chamber´s. Thanks a lot.

Martin
Martin
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

That is a nice strategy, I will try this as well. Another question of mine is , do you know about all three book´s of yours on SpEu as well available ?

Martin
Martin
7 months ago
Reply to  Mark Irwin

That are good news, so I just have to import the comic from the US. I´m looking
forward to this. Thanks a lot for reaching out for me.

John Schantz
John Schantz
7 months ago

I wonder how often those gnarly rustication tool bits catch? That looks dangerous as heck, and the still pictures do not show the drill in action😳. As you might know, or not, I am not a fan of rusticated pipes, but those natural house pipes did catch my eye. They took on a similar look to the “Aboriginal” Meerschaums of yore. I might have even tried to snag one had they not been so expensive, my P.P.A.D funds were low, there were just too many “special” run pipes in a row for me. As a side note: In the youtube… Read more »

Casey
Casey
7 months ago

Just love this blog site! Thanks Mark for all the great content! Your love for Peterson is a blessing for those of us who feel the same. Great work! Thanks again.

Chris Streeper
7 months ago
Reply to  Casey

Agreed and thank you Mark!

William
William
7 months ago

Looking at the current Peterson pubs for sale it is a shame the rusticating doesn’t look like what is shown in this article. They must have pulled out the good ones for this story.

Linwood
Linwood
7 months ago

ANOTHER GREAT look into the wonders of, not only Peterson Pipes, but the humanity behind our beloved pipes! Thank you! True craftsmen, and can you imagine doing this in 5 minutes!
Now, if Pete (he does live!) would just take that Pub Pipe (pic at the end of the post) and put a flush-fit, longer, tapered stem on it – and we’d have an instant large 02 – as highlighted in the previous rustification post!

Andy Camire
Andy Camire
7 months ago

I would like to echo Chris T’s comments above. My personal view of a rusticated pipe has always been considered as a second, where flaws in the bowl are carved away which is the case in most instances. However, with a lot of thought and expertise Peterson’s craftsmen have made an ugly duckling of a pipe into a showpiece of craftsmanship. Even in a Company of over 100 years old there’s always room for improvement and innovation which this certainly is the case. Bravo. And Thanks for two very interesting posts on Peterson’s rustication methods.

Chris T.
Chris T.
7 months ago
Reply to  Andy Camire

It never particularly bothered me that rusticated pipes were “seconds”. That’s probably true for Castello as well, when you get right down to it. I just never cared for the particular technique that Peterson used. Although, I was impressed with some of the old pieces shown in Part One of Mark’s article. I guess by the time I started on pipes (1983), those were long gone.

Stephen
Stephen
7 months ago

Thanks for more info on rustification, Mark. I wonder if they take a smooth bowl of a certain style and go to work or if they have a technique that leaves the bowl a little thicker so the process doesn’t take away too much wood? Also, the physics of sandblasting and rustification — as you can see the amount of surface area has been greatly increased. This allows the pipe to shed heat much more quickly and could reduce the likelihood of burnout. Also, removal of the wood lightens the pipe making it easier on the jaw when clenching. I… Read more »

Chris Streeper
7 months ago

Excellent follow up to Part I of the rustication story. I very much enjoyed reading about the people who craft our pipes as well as the visuals. Thank you Mark. I always enjoy reading your articles and often find myself rereading them several times. Keep up the great work!

BTW, I sent you a submission for your IPSD project. I’m looking forward to earning my Pete Geek Certificate. ☘️

Richard Roberts
Richard Roberts
7 months ago

Just as when one buys an estate pipe and wonders, as it is smoked, who might of companioned it before, so it is a subject of thought as to who made it: a theme of this post and others. For my part I can only tell about how ‘my’ pipes came to me but, a la Sherlock Holmes, I feel sure that there is much more to be observed and deduced by close examination, did we all have the Great Detective’s skills. I look forward to reading of the experiences of others who, like me, ponder such matters whilst smoking.… Read more »

William Auld
William Auld
7 months ago

Currently on SP there are 2 rustic House billiards with what looks to be very different approaches to rustication. Kind of interesting to see and compare.

Ken Sigel
Ken Sigel
7 months ago

Very interesting look at the process. I always wondered how they kept the shape. Starting out I was only into smooth pipes. A nice rustic B42 opened my eyes. It just feels great in the hand. Those rustic system spigots that just came out are beauties!

Kendall B
Kendall B
2 months ago

I wish they’d bring back the Dublin era rustication! That new one is too deep and ruins the shapes on some of them. As of today there are a ton of the new rusts on SP’s website and I can only imagine it’s because they don’t sell. They’re hideous imho. Thanks Mark for all the work you do!