I rarely write about pipe-makers who have less than 100 pipes under their belt. The main reason being that virtually 100% of the time, such pipe-makers have not yet had enough time to neither develop their own style nor find their own voice or shape language yet. Pipe-makers, no matter how talented, bobble for many years, focusing on a few shapes and the most common scenario, make shapes that they believe collectors will want to buy.
There is an intense lack of focus on the self in the early years of the pipe-maker. Most spend their time looking out to what the world wants, as opposed to looking in & what they may want to make. Many times this happens for good reasons as well, since the beginning of a career is often considered the time when they are learning the craft and setting personal goals aside during the “valuable education period”. This is often seen as a requirement.
Nonetheless, how somebody chooses to approach anything in life, will obviously dictate the outcome of how that life is eventually lived. And this next pipe-maker, simply seems to be fearless. Approaching and attempting any shape idea that comes through his mind.
When I look at the young pipe-maker Eder Mathias, who hails from the port city of Antibes in southern France, I see someone who is constantly incorporating ‘unknown’ & ‘unexpected’ elements in his young career. His process of learning seems to be less guided by method and style and more by what suits his personal fancy with any particular block. It’s his decision on what his hands are making, nobody else’s.
When I asked Eder if this is true, he gave me this response. “Many of the guys out there seem to be sticking to an established pipe set in terms of shapes. They find a dozen of shapes and they make those over and over again. A few months back I was a little concerned about this issue. I seriously considered if I should also define a set of pipe shapes and stick with it… that was a 1.5sec thought…It went away as fast as it came.” A man guiding his own path is always an interesting subject in the pipe hobby.
As you will shortly see, Eder is clearly still making many pipes that connect a great deal to classical and standard shapes. Yet even when he does those, his deviations within those classical shapes, at such an early stage of his career, to me imply a wise personality full of adventurous spirit and a desire to look elsewhere. Eder is exploring at a furiously fast pace.
Before Eder Mathias made his 100th pipe, he had already gone through virtually every single shape in the shape chart. With less than 100 pipes made, Eder had quite comfortably explored the greatest variety of shapes that I have seen any young pipe-maker tackle. And we are not discussing just attempts here. Eder seems to be nailing the shape or idea he goes for right from the get go. Whatever he tries for the first time, has some strong element of success surrounding it.
This ‘immediate success’ in nailing a shape, combined with the high number of shape variations he has employed into his pipes, to me appear to highlight this pipe-makers ‘pace of evolution’. He is moving very fast. So many pipe-makers spend their entire lives focusing on only a handful of shapes. Some pipe-makers, after years and years of working on a handful of shapes, finally decide to branch out and experiment into new territory.
Eder however has begun his career in new territory. It is his modus operandi so to speak. The number of shapes he has covered and in fact ‘invented or created’ already numbers close to 10. Eder’s strong ability to take an existing shape and add to it intelligently is very impressive. The act of improvement upon existing shapes is usually within the realm of experienced pipe-makers.
Back to the wide variety of shapes that this man explores deserves immense attention all on it’s own. Most pipe makers will stay within some type of comfort zone, naturally so. They stay there to learn and master and only move on once they have attained some level of confidence which allows them to expend their repertoire. Eder is very different. His quick and sharp assessment of a shape’s idea and incorporation of it effectively allows him to do that act effectively but then however, perhaps due to boredom he always takes it a step further by exploring what he can do with it. His desire to learn and create something, anything different, forces out these new ideas. All combining together to allow him to essentially explore new shapes at a moments notice, with the simple flick of his ‘desire switch’. What fancies him at the moment is what guides his creative process.
To do all of these items so effectively at such an early stage of his career to me, highlights a speed in “evolution” of this young pipe-maker that is hardly matched. Find me another pipe-maker who has covered so many different shapes, so successfully, so early in his career? And not only this, but someone who has added unique and interesting elements to his work that highlights this pipe-makers desire for exploration and innovation.
This pipe-maker has a very bright future. In fact, it is easy to say that he has not yet found his personal pipe language whatsoever however if he is able to roam into so many new territories, so effectively, all the while being so incredibly unique, one can only imagine where his pipes will end up in a few years time. Eder is clearly evolving in a fast, fun & very dynamic way. This is one pipe-maker, who if he continues along his current path, is someone to watch.
Edit: It should be noted that today, in Sept., 2013, Eder has already made around 160 pipes. I have in fact been following Eder’s work for close to 18 months now. During the bulk of that period, Eder was still under the ‘100 pipes made’ mark however to be clear, he has today gone past that mark. Apologies for any confusion.
To learn more about Eder Mathias, visit his website:
All images are courtesy of AlPascia.com. Thank you to Leo & Cosimo.
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