Seeking balance : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

Seeking balance

Love Geiger and Sara Mossberg seek the proper balance between work and home life, production demands and creativity

by Stephen A. Ross

Love Geiger and Sara Mossberg

Love Geiger and Sara Mossberg

For most artisan pipemakers, making pipes is a solitary expression of creative energy. They thrive on the independence and seclusion that working from their own studios can bring. They savor the solitude, the privacy and the isolation—indeed, crave it—to perform at their peak. However, there are a few artisan pipemakers who prefer working with another person and enjoy the collaborative approach. Sweden’s Martin Vollmer and Anders Nilsson or Italy’s Elio and Guido Rinaldo spring to mind as pipe- making pairs who have long worked together. Yet, when the day is finished, these pipemaking duos can say goodnight and head for their separate homes, leaving any disagreements or problems in the workshop.

Love (pronounced Low-ve) Geiger and Sara Mossberg don’t have such a luxury. They not only make pipes together but also raise a family together. Geiger and Mossberg live in Olserod, a very small village that’s located just two miles from Sweden’s Baltic coast. They work out of two rooms of their house—formerly the village’s old school building—which have been dedicated to a pipemaking studio. They make pipes while their daughters, Indra, 10, and Esmeralda, 8, go to school. After the girls have left for school, the pipemakers start most workdays with a walk on the nearby beach, looking for amber and seeking inspiration. When the girls come home, Geiger and Mossberg stop making pipes and become doting and attentive parents until it is time for the children to go to bed. Then the couple might get some quiet time to themselves.

To be together so much, Geiger, 38, and Mossberg, 36, must possess copious amounts of patience and understanding. They also both have a sense of humor—an all-too-rare character asset that helps them manage family and work responsibilities.

Draconian Bellyflop Photo by Love Geiger

Draconian Bellyflop
Photo by Love Geiger

“Before I met Love, his pipes were no good,” Mossberg says, displaying that sense of humor and laughing and smiling at Geiger, who also laughs. “We’ve made pipes together for 13 years, and we’ve been together for 15 years. I think if we didn’t have such a good relationship then we couldn’t work together. We’re together a lot. Since the day we met, we have been together almost constantly. Sometimes we have some time apart, but not much. We have learned from how we operate in the workshop and apply it to the rest of our personal lives. It’s been quite a journey.”

That journey began in 1994 when a 17-year-old Geiger bought a Bari pipe and took up pipe smoking. He grew up in a household of talented people who loved and respected the arts. His grandmother, Karin Hallberg, started Katja of Sweden, one of Sweden’s biggest fashion designers. His grandfather, Rod E. Geiger, had been a noted filmmaker who worked with Roberto Rossellini on his masterpiece Roma citta aperta (a movie about the making of this film, Celluloid, was produced in 1996, and Christopher Walken played the role of Geiger’s grandfather). And his stepfather was a glass blower, so Geiger was naturally drawn to arts and crafts from as early as he can remember, and it wasn’t long before he tried making his own pipe.

“When I started making pipes, I worked at my father’s workshop on his farm,” Geiger recalls. “I didn’t have any rent or anything. Money was never the object for making pipes; it was fun and a hobby. The only equipment I had was a power drill, and I drilled the pipe’s holes with that. Then a friend started making pipes with me. I was, and still am, the pipe nerd. I was the one that was checking out pipes on the Internet, and I got all geeky about making pipes, but he never really got into it. That’s when I discovered that I never wanted to sit in a workshop alone. I like collaborations and finding out what two people can accomplish together.”

Though the partnership with his friend didn’t work out, Geiger met Mossberg, a fashion design student at a local university. From the earliest days of their relationship, Mossberg realized that, if she wanted to spend time with Geiger, she had to hang out in his workshop.

“When I met him, he was always in the workshop,” she says. “I was there with him. I didn’t have an interest in pipes but I had an interest in Love. So when I was in the workshop I started helping him, and I had always had an interest in drawing and sculpture so it was a natural thing for me to do.”

While Mossberg had formal training in design, Geiger learned pipemaking by doing it and studying the work of other pipemakers on the Internet. He credits American pipemaker Trever Talbert— another pipemaker who collaborates with his wife, Emily, and who was one of the first pipemakers to share the pipemaking process on the Internet—as a big influence on his early development as a pipemaker.

Yggdrasil seven day set Photo by Love Geiger

Yggdrasil seven day set
Photo by Love Geiger

“I was really inspired by Trever Talbert at the start and his way of making pipes,” Geiger explains. “It’s the American way and very unique in style. Once the Internet came and I saw pictures of pipes on the Web, it became easier to learn. I realized how much creativity could be in a pipe. That’s something to this day—there’s always new stuff that you can explore. You never quit learning, really, and that’s what’s interesting about it for me.”

As their relationship grew, Mossberg and Geiger discovered that they worked well together and their natural talents complemented each other very well. They would talk about pipe designs and sketch ideas on paper. Mossberg showed an affinity for shaping and learned how to make hand-cut mouthpieces. Geiger concentrated on the pipes’ engineering, turning, blasting and finishing.

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Category: Feature Article, Pipe Articles, Summer 2015

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