Behind every Artisan pipe there is the Artist. Since I began working on Pipes.org several months ago I have been wanting to bring the Artist closer to the pipe smoker. With the advent of social media and my participation therein I have met several makers and many of them I now count amongst my friends.
In previous Cob Tuesday postings I have featured Riccardo Santia several times.. His ultimate cobs are some of the finest I have seen. Imaginative and creative.
Riccardo saw my piece a few weeks ago about Missouri Meerschaum possibly bringing the corncob bulldog back to market and we began a dialog online. Based in Canada , Riccardo is a very talented maker and was glad that he took some time to answer a few questions:
Describe how Riccardo Santia pipes started
In 1990 I Picked up a briar started kit from Ginny at Pimo’s and away I went. I fell in love. Then I picked up a corncob pipe from an antique shop. I held on to it forever until the time was right. Just studying it, how it was made, the finish the feel , the look and the material. The time was right to make one like it, and it was a challenge. I read any material or videos I could find, but when it came to cobs, it was very limited. I thought how would they make this back in the day? What materials would they have used and away we went. Michelle and I just kept plugging away. The first few finishes fell apart. I had to change the mixture. After about 3 months of experimenting, I believe I had done it. R. Santia Pipes didn’t take off until I met Scott Markwood from Aristocob.com and Dave Neeb at Mkelaw Pipes. These two fellows got the ball rolling and it hasn’t stopped. Pipes and Tobacco Magazine then did a couple write ups and of course, just about everyone who purchased a pipe went on you tube and just shared their experiences, and I thank everyone out there.
How would you differentiate between what we are use to seeing today in a corncob and your creations
Missouri Meerschaum cobs, are the best in the world. They have been around since the 1800s. I wanted to take the cob to a different level or place, I wanted to make it the best possible, I guess you could say Ultimate lol. The pipe makers always seem to come up with different styles with their briars. Other pipe makers who focus on cobs have added wood shanks and quality stems and they look really nice. But not only did I want to add a new shank and stem, I wanted to so something that I have never seen anyone do yet as to my knowledge . I wanted to change the finish, something that looked, and felt like a briar and had the benefits of a cob. My partner Michelle and I, came up with a half rusticated, half smooth finish, which is our biggest seller. I also like the look of a bamboo shank, the quality of the acrylic and/or vulcanite stem and the added briar bottom or heel to prevent bottom burnout. If requested, I also offer carbonized bowls to prevent burnout, for the walls. Since its start about 2 and a half years, they are selling like corncobs lol
I wanted the smoker to be proud to smoke an Ultimate cob pipe in public. Having heads turn or asking what type of pipe is that, and not just for testing out tobacco but to be a main stay or in a rotation. I’ve had excellent reviews so far and constructive criticism. I thank everyone out there for the support. I’m also making corn dog ( bulldog) which is very large pipe, the reed style and the V-shape look.
Tell me a little about the corndog that you sent to me?
As we know MM doesn’t make bulldogs any longer. They may make a come back not sure yet. So a few years ago I thought why not bring it back, using briar shank and good quality stem. I think that one is acrylic, due to the weight of the shank, I wanted something stronger. I believe that one you have is my first attempt Corndog. The finish is a little of both rough, smooth and in between. I think that one is 3 years old. I used a small mac cob. The cob is smaller due to the dry weather they had.
What are the benefits of the Bamboo Shank?
I mostly use bamboo but occasionally use briar or oak for my shanks. I wanted to copy the look of the pipe that I had found in the antique shop. The look was beautiful, after working bamboo, I found it was strong, flexible and very light, and absorbent, I believe it absorbs the heat and moisture very well.
What or Who influences me the most?
Great question. I have many pipe makers that I admire. Along with family and friends, who support me, Along with you tubers out there who continue to offer great ideas for my next pipe.
But one name that comes to mind, would be Tom Eltang, I admire his finish. He may not remember but years ago I had asked about his stain he uses. He was so kind to speak with me about pipes for about half hour.
What is your favorite pipe besides your own?
Hmmm I have quite a few. The corn cob I found in the antique shop, the one my son Jake made out of our local field corn, Petersons , Dunhills, a Randy Willey, a Tim West and a commissioned Julius Vesz.
Im going with the one my son made me.
I want to thank Ricardo for the opportunity to chat with him about his craft and sharing a pipe with me..Check out his site at www.rsantiapipes.com