Briar expressions : Pipes and Tobaccos Magazine

Briar expressions

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The expressive pipes of Salvatore Amorelli tell vivid stories

by Stephen A. Ross

Life as a pipemaker has been very good for Salvatore Amorelli. Since deciding to leave his studies in computer science at a university in Pisa, Italy, to embrace a newfound passion for pipes, which he discovered after buying a pipe for a friend in 1978, the 55-year-old Sicilian has lived a charmed life filled with rich experiences. Pipemaking has allowed him to travel the world and gather with his customers face to face at both pipe shops and pipe shows. It has enabled him to meet political and religious leaders, including former President Bill Clinton and the late Pope John Paul II, both of whom received special pipes made by him. Perhaps most important of all, it has permitted him to express his gentle, playful and generous personality through his pipes.

amorelli2Making around 2,000 pipes a year, Amorelli offers pipes ranging from simple, classic shapes to whimsical riffs on the classics, complete with colorful mouthpieces or adornments, to very special, one-of-a-kind pieces inspired by natural elements, especially animal horn, for which Amorelli holds a special fondness. For Amorelli, a pipe is more than simply a beautiful smoking instrument—it’s a way to communicate.

“Every one of my pipes is born from an idea to express an emotion to share with the world,” Amorelli says. “My pipes articulate ideas and tell stories. Words, you only hear. A painting, you only see. A pipe can tell a more complete story—you feel it, you taste it, you smell it and you see it. It engages so many senses that it’s a better storyteller. If we think pipes are only for smoking then they are only something that is worth- while to pipe smokers. Pipes should be, and are, more than that.”

Indeed, the entryway into Amorelli’s factory is decorated with some of his most amorelli-screen-photospecial work. Just a few feet inside the building, visitors encounter cases and display shelves with gigantic pipes made using antelope horn or mastodon tusk. Asking Amorelli to open the cases for closer examination gives him special pleasure. His dignified, professorial manner melts away to a childlike, playful enthusiasm. Express admiration for these pipes, such as the Musa, Galatea and Tyche series, and he beams, appreciating that someone else might get the meaning behind these rare and expensive pipes.

amorelli4“Making only normal, classic pipes is not interesting to me,” he says. “Sicily is known as the land of mythology, and these pipes are inspired by tales from ancient Roman and Greek mythology. These are pipes that combine horn with briar in a very artful way. When making these pipes, I do my best to respect the natural beauty of the horn and consider how I can adapt the briar to accentuate it. These special pipes allow my work to be known outside the pipe world. People who have never thought of smoking a pipe can appreciate the beauty of the sculpture and the craftsmanship. But every pipe I make is a good-smoking pipe.”

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Category: Feature Article, Pipe Articles, Winter 2016

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