Persistent pipemaker : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

Persistent pipemaker

Svend Hangaard’s skills as a pipemaker continue to grow

by Stephen A. Ross

All Svend Hangaard wanted was to find an activity for the inmates at the jail where he was a warden while they awaited trials or transfers. With a collection of murderers, rapists, thieves, burglars and other, less nefarious criminals as his “guests,” Hangaard’s choices were somewhat limited—any activity that could potentially give any of the prisoners an opportunity to harm themselves or others was strictly off-limits.

Hangaard eventually found a solution: pre-drilled stummels from a pipe factory in nearby Svendborg. The only tools the inmates would need to shape these stummels into pipes would be some sandpaper and files. The work would be relaxing—a welcome escape from the monotony of jail life—and the prisoners would make something they could use if they wanted.

The choice proved to be a momentous one for Hangaard. That search for an activity for his prisoners sparked Hangaard’s interest. He sat with the prisoners and shaped a stummel with them. He took the stummel home and worked on it at night, and finished the pipe. He picked up another stummel and shaped that one as well. He sought advice on how to improve his pipes from established pipemaker Poul Ilsted. In a few short months, Hangaard had discovered a new hobby and occasionally shaped a pipe for his own enjoyment or to give to a friend.

The demands of work, coupled with the renovation of a house in Faaborg that he and his wife, Anna, had purchased, kept Hangaard from making very many pipes after that initial period of discovery in 1982. It wasn’t until after his retirement in 2007, at the age of 63, that Hangaard was once again able to make pipes. This time he took a more professional approach. He established a workshop behind the house in Faaborg and acquired carpentry tools to help with the house’s renovation. Now with plenty of time on his hands and the proper equipment, Hangaard could make more pipes and improve his skills.

“When I retired, I thought I would watch television or sleep a lot, but I preferred to spend my time doing some type of work,” Hangaard says. “When I was younger I learned the carpentry trade. It was natural for me to pick up pipemaking again, but only as a hobby. At the time I didn’t think I could make money at it. It’s still a hobby, though I’m lucky to be able to sell some. I make pipes with my heart. It also helps us when we want to travel some.”

A large man with broad shoulders and massive hands, piercing blue eyes and close-cropped silver hair, Hangaard took up his role as pipemaker with the energy and enthusiasm of a young person, making nearly 300 pipes from 1982 to 2008, most of which he sold to area pipe smokers. One of his customers told him about Joao Reis, a Portuguese pipemaker who had moved to Faaborg, and brought pictures of some of the pipes he had purchased from Reis. Intrigued by Reis’ obvious talent, Hangaard asked the customer if he might arrange an appointment to meet Reis.

A few weeks later, Hangaard visited Reis and brought some of his work for the younger but more experienced pipemaker to critique.

“I was impressed with what he had to show me, especially after learning how few pipes he had made before,” Reis says of his first meeting with Hangaard. “We talked for a while and I learned how serious he was about learning how to make pipes in the right way. Many of the pipes he showed me were freehands in a classical style and were very rounded. And he used premade mouthpieces. I invited him to work with me and introduced him to Kai Nielsen, who had invited me to come to Denmark to learn pipemaking from him, and other Faaborg pipemakers, Karsten Tarp and Manduela.”

Like Reis, Nielsen was quickly impressed with Hangaard’s eagerness to learn. Hangaard brought notebooks to his pipemaking lessons and

Svend and Anna Hangaard

closely watched Reis, Nielsen, Tarp and Manduela before going back to his own workshop and applying what he learned.

“He was very interested and very enthusiastic,” Nielsen relates. “He had the right attitude. He has improved very much, especially in the engineering. He watched me very carefully and then went home and worked on his technique. We made some pipes together and talked about them quite a bit. There were changes in small details in the drilling. He has also improved his mouthpieces. He puts a lot of work into the inlay on the mouthpieces with the rings. His bulldogs have improved a lot and have become one of his signature shapes. Svend’s horn shapes are very typical of the creativity he possesses—it’s very unique. You seldom see someone grow this fast from doing good things to doing excellent work. He’s been doing it for many years, but after working with Joao and me, he sort of saw the light and now makes some very beautiful pieces.”

While he acknowledges the opinions that Reis and Nielsen make about his early work and how he has improved, Hangaard says their help has been even more profound. He says that one of the first lessons Reis gave him was how to make the most of the block’s grain. He had been making pipes from moderately graded Grecian briar, and as his ability to read the grain improved, Nielsen and Reis convinced him to use better briar. In 2011, he started using briar obtained from Mimmo (of Romeo Briar).

Read the rest of the story in P&T magazine or the online digital edition.

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Category: Feature Article, Pipe Articles

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