May 14

Welcome to new visitors from

"Danish Pipe Makers"


I'm delighted to report that has just launched a new feature that will display some of my Pipe Landscape Photographs on a regular basis.  Special greetings to first-time visitors to The Briar Gallery who have come via that new link.

When web-master Lars Kiel, invited me to contribute to the Danish Pipe Makers pages, I was honored to become a part of such a distinguished site.  For many years, Lars' page designs and photographs have set the standard for elegance and beauty in the display and discussion of briar pipes.  His web site contains valuable - and accurate - background information about about every major artisnal pipe-maker in Denmark. You can also find a number of classic articles about pipes and pipe-making.  If you're not familiar with, you're missing out on a most important and reliable (i.e. "non-wiki") resource.  Do pay it a visit!

Link to


May 3

Updates soon

Just back from the 2010 Chicago Show and a two-week trip to Denmark (to watch Teddy making pipes for the show), I look forward to updating the web site with new photos and new pipes over the next few weeks.

I apologize to visitors to the site for the unexpectedly-long stretch without any updates.  Some minor but nonetheless annoying illness and some family matters intervened.  By this summer I expect to restore a more regular schedule of additions to The Briar Gallery.  In the meantime, I thank browsers of these pages for their patience and forbearance.

Thomas Looker




July 20, 2009

"Teddy:  The Eagle Has Landed"

A new video celebrating Apollo 11

 Final version

A slightly-expanded version of the Teddy video I posted last night is now accessible from the CURRENT EXHIBITS main page as well as the previously-posted link below.

 ROUTE:  The Exhibits, Current Exhibits,  "The Eagle Has Landed"


July 5, 2009

Back from Italy

I returned a week ago from a wonderful trip to Italy.  Highlights from the visit included the two-day celebration marking the 40th Anniversary of Romeo Briar and visits to Teddy and Mette's house by a number of pipe-makers, including, Manduela,  Tom Eltang, and Nanna IvarssonNanna was on a delayed honeymoon with her husband, and their adorable baby, Sixten.  Many photos to come.

A new tribute in briar:  A Teddy Moonwalk

Though I've been a bit too jet-lagged to do much work the past week, I was able to piece together a special video from still images (tedious, if whimsical, work), inspired by some recent news.  As so often happens, what started as a "home video" for friends now seems like something others might also enjoy.

A TEDDY MOONWALK is currently accessible from the top of the main menu page of CURRENT EXHIBITS.

 ROUTE:  Current Exhibits,  "A Teddy Moonwalk"


June 7, 2009

"The most beautiful Dunhill I know"

When I bought an absolutely gorgeous Dunhill Amber Root Billiard with 18K gold spigot a few years ago, I figured I would never sell it.  It was the most beautiful Dunhill I had ever seen and could ever imagine seeing.

The burnished gold and the reddish amber finish reflect off each other like flickering firelight.  The classic 5103 billiard shape is perfectly cut and even the cross-cut grain-pattern contributes to the sense of shimmering luxury.

Smoking the pipe was out of the question, but I would oogle it every so often, before putting it back in the leather sock where it spent most of its time.

The pipe remains the most beautiful Dunhill I know and is in perfect, unsmoked condition.  It's only with the greatest reluctance that I've decided to offer it for sale.

 ROUTE:  Gallery Shop, Rare Dunhills


June 6, 2009

A great, unsmoked Bo Nordh

First displayed on the Pipes...for Sale table in Chicago this year, a glorious, red-stained Apple-Ball shows the great Swedish pipe-maker at the height of his powers.  Subtle, supple, with a unique finish and grain pattern, this is one of the most beautiful pipes by Bo that I've ever seen and I most reluctantly now offer it for sale.  I will never be able to smoke it but I hope someone else will be able to fully enjoy the briar in the way Bo would have wanted.

 ROUTE:  Gallery Shop, Pipes...for sale,

Upcoming Trip to Italy

European visitors might like to know that I will be traveling to Italy in mid-June for a couple of weeks and will be able to ship pipes from within the EU during that time.

I'll be attending the 40th Anniversary celebration for Romeo Briar in Taggia.

Auguri, Pippo e Mimmo!

Pipe orders should be placed before June 14th.


June 2, 2009

3 new, unsmoked Eltangs

Early-bird notice of three new offerings on the Pipes ... for Sale page from Tom Eltang, including his 2005 "Shogun" with bamboo and ivory (Snail grade).  Also, in the "affordable pipe" category, two unsmoked Saturn grade rusticated briars.

These listings have gone up today in the midst of a larger update (not yet posted).

 ROUTE:  Gallery Shop, Pipes...for sale,


May 29, 2009

New (on-going) TEDDY EXHIBIT opened

As most of you know, I visited Teddy in March and spent two weeks watching him work on pipes for the Chicago Show.  I've been planning to assemble a photographic essay tracing the evolution of a few of his compositions, but I now realize that the project will take a bit of time to complete.

Rather than wait for the whole presentation to be finished, I've decided to post photographs and text incrementally, as individual parts of the exhibit take shape.

I've now assembled most of the photographs and some of the text for the last section of the exhibit - showing some of the pipes that Teddy brought with him to Chicago.

TEDDY PIPE PORTRAITS 2009 is accessible from the CURRENT EXHIBITS opening page.

Be advised that the notes and commentary are still in draft form.  I will rework the text as the entire exhibit nears completion.

(I welcome any comments you might have about my developing discussion.)

Along with the PIPE PORTRAITS, I have included a preview page displaying some of the photographs I took in Teddy's workshop -  pictures that will form the first half of the full exhibit.

From time to time over the next several weeks, I will make additions to this TEDDY EXHIBIT.  When the expansions are significant, I will announce them here.

 ROUTE:  Current Exhibits, Teddy Pipe Portraits 2009


May 22, 2009


Memorial Day Greetings from Japan

I just received this wonderful photo from Toku showing his bluegrass band playing in Maebashi, Japan, earlier this month.  Those of you who have visited the You-Tube site to hear recordings of their music will recognize the windmill-dominated scene.  (See photos and links in my exhibit,  Japan, October 2008, in Current Exhibits. Look for the Other Photos, Country-Eastern section.)

I take this all as a good omen for Memorial Day and I hope everyone has a pleasant weekend.

 ROUTE:   Current Exhibits, "Japan, October 2008,"

 Other Photos,  "Country Eastern"


May 20, 2009

Briarglitter on-line catalogue is complete

I've now posted everything in the current Briarglitter inventory except a few magnets.  The Briarglitter Catalogue spans four pages and includes T-shirts, polo shirts, ties, mousepads, mugs, and playing cards.

In other news, I've begun editing the photos I took in Teddy's workshop back in March and I hope to post some of them in a preliminary exhibit later this week.

 ROUTE:  Gallery Shop, Briarglitter


May 19, 2009

Many additions in "Pipes...for Sale"

Pipes by Teddy, Tokutomi, Lars Ivarsson, Peter Hedegaard, and museum-grade pieces from Peter Matzhold, can now be viewed on the Pipes ... for Sale pages.

After its debut in Chicago, Briarglitter is now available for a limited time online.

 ROUTE:  Gallery Shop, Pipes...for sale and Briarglitter


May 13, 2009

New (estate) Nanna in "Pipes...for Sale"

A charming, very-lightly-smoked pipe by Nanna Ivarsson is my first post-Chicago-Show-addition to the Pipes ... for Sale pages.

I'll be posting a few more briars in the near future, including an unsmoked Bo Nordh and a stunning pipe by Hedegaard that's way under-graded.

(Bo's pipe is so round, shiny, and unusually-colored that it's challenging all my pipe-photography skills - folks who saw the pipe in Chicago know what I mean!)

I also have a couple more pages of Briarglitter that I will publish shortly.

 ROUTE:  Gallery Shop, Pipes...for sale, Special Offerings


May 9, 2009

Post-Chicago sale of Briarglitter begins

I've posted in the Gallery Shop the first items of Briarglitter left over from the Chicago Pipe Show.  The T-shirts, mugs, mousepads, and magnets are part of two special collections:

  • a commemoration of Apollo 11's 40th anniversary using Teddy's pipes, entitled "The eagle has landed..."

  • and a celebratory design I call simply, The Two Bo's (in which dancers and dogs have fun together)

I'll be adding more Briarglitter designs over the next few days.  Some are based on my Pipelandscapes, others on my portraits of Danish and Japanese pipes.  Additional items to be posted include playing cards, hats, and (my own favorite) pipe magnets (magnets cut out in the shape of my pipe photographs).

ROUTE:  Gallery Shop, Briarglitter


May 6, 2009

Danish Trip and Chicago Show Backlogs ...

I've fallen way behind in updating The Briar Gallery following my trip to Denmark in March and the Chicago Pipe Show, which was held this past weekend.

I hope to start catching up over the next two or three weeks.  In addition to photos of this year's display in Chicago, I will be posting pictures of Teddy at work on a number of pipes in his Aarhus workshop.

At the Chicago Show, I debuted some of my limited-edition BRIARGLITTER DESIGNS based on my pipe photography ... from shirts and ties and hats to magnets and mousepads and mugs -- all featuring pipes you've seen in my show exhibits or here on The Briar Gallery.  I will eventually post in the Gallery Shop what remains of my stock.

I'll make announcements in this space when I add new material to the site.  (Today I have done some post-show housekeeping on the Pipes ... for Sale pages.)


March 15, 2009

Lars Ivarsson Sandblast Tulip

Upcoming trip to Denmark

In honor of the impending arrival of spring, and my upcoming trip to Denmark, I've reluctantly decided to offer for sale a "spring-time" Lars Ivarsson pipe, an extraordinarily appealing sandblast tulip, with a luscious red stain and handsome silver ring.

Also, on St. Patrick's Day (March 17th) I fly to Denmark for two weeks visiting Teddy and other pipe-makers, at the start of their pre-Chicago pipe-making season.  If anyone in Europe is interested in making a purchase from the Gallery Shop, let me know before noon on March 17th and I will bring the pipe with me for shipment from Denmark (saving on both postage and customs).

Finally, I still have left a few PIPELANDSCAPES BY THOMAS LOOKER calendars.  BRIARGLITTER DESIGNS at the Gallery Shop.

 ROUTE:  Gallery Shop, Pipes...for sale, Pipe Preview



January 30, 2009

PIPELANDSCAPES Calendar now in stock

The first group of calendars has arrived safely from the printer and I am ready to ship my first orders.  The printer did a good job of reproducing my photographs of Tokutomi and Teddy pipes in Japanese and Italian settings.  I'm quite pleased with the  overall design of the calendar which seems dignified without being stuffy, thoughtful yet with a twinkle in the eye.  The presentation allows the images to sustain their meditative mood ... and their touch of whimsy.

Also, with the final calendars in hand, I've discovered that I won't need to use as heavy or bulky packaging as I'd thought.  My domestic shipping costs will be about $5 less than previously calculated and so I've been able to reduce the price of the calendar according.  (It's now $25 plus $5 shipping within the US.)

More about the calendars in my entry for January 25th.




January 25, 2009

Special Pipecalendar Offer:  PIPELANDSCAPES

After a long break for the holidays, I'm currently at work on a new section of the Gallery Shop, entitled BRIARGLITTER DESIGNS, where I plan to offer a few creations (some fun, some fashionable) based on my briar photography.  I'm "opening the doors" a little early on this project so I can offer a very limited number of Pipecalendars for public sale.  Modifying slightly the holiday gifts I created this year for family and friends, I've arranged for a few copies of PIPELANDSCAPES BY THOMAS LOOKER to be printed up commercially.  See the BRIARGLITTER link on the opening page of the Gallery Shop.




December 3, 2008

3 New Unsmoked Pipes for Sale

Shortly after Bo Nordh's death in 2006, Jess Chonowitsch made a couple of pipes based on the last original design Bo created - his version of the popular "blowfish" shape.  I'm offering an unsmoked sandblast that Jess carved as a memorial tribute to Bo.  See the main menu on the Pipes...for Sale section of the Gallery Shop.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Einstein's Special Theory of Relativity, Dunhill designed a special E=mc silver band and put it on a 5101 apple shape (reputedly one of the genius' favorite pipes).  They then issued 250 pipes with Shell finish and 150 with Amber Root finish.  One of these rare, smooth Einstein Commemorative Pipes is now available in Rare Dunhills  at the Gallery Shop.

I've posted for sale the finest example of Peter Hedegaard's lovely "Melted Bowl" design that I know.  It's an unsmoked Grade B with stellar grain and strong yet supple shaping that's quintessentially "Peter."   See the main menu on the Pipes...for Sale section of the Gallery Shop.

 ROUTE:  Gallery Shop, Pipes ... for sale and Rare Dunhills


November 16, 2008


I've posted a profile of Tokutomi, based on my recent article for Pipes & Tobaccos Magazine, in the Pipenotes section.  I've revised the text ever-so-slightly from what appeared in print and I've included many more pictures.

I've also reworked the previously posted Photo Supplement.  It's smaller than before as some pictures have been moved into the article.  It also contains a few new pictures,  including some of Toku shaping stems.

   ROUTE:  Pipenotes, "Tokutomi's Long Path to Briar"


October 26, 2008

Japan photos update

I've added some new pictures to the exhibit of photos from my second trip to Japan two weeks ago.  (See October 23, below.)

   ROUTE:  Exhibits, Current Exhibits, "Japan, October 2008"



Now available at the Briar Gallery ShopTokutomi's finest classic Danish pipe (Hiro grade, 2008) made out of Bo Nordh briar, paired with the pipe that inspired Toku, Bo's Dublin-Canadian (1983).

   ROUTE: Gallery Shop, Pipes ... for sale.


October 23, 2008

Pictures of my latest trip to Japan:  new exhibit

I've just returned from my second visit to Japan, during which I attended the 35th Annual All-Japan Pipe-Smoking Competition and Pipe Show in Tokyo.  I also visited Toku and Kei Gotoh and did some sight-seeing with Barney Suzuki.

My three days with Toku in Maebashi led to some wonderful pictures (not yet posted) of grandson Rinto and his mother Yuki, who has begun making pipes again.  I also encountered some surprising talents in Toku that I'd previously only heard about.  See photos and video links regarding what I call The Maebashi Mountain Boys.

Go to the Exhibits section and click on the first listing of the Current Exhibits page:  Japan, October 2008.

I've not yet completed editing and posting photos of the trip (grace "le jet-lag") so expect the exhibit to grow by a few more pages over the next week or so.

   ROUTE:  Exhibits, Current Exhibits, "Japan, October 2008"


September 28, 2008

A Tokutomi Tribute to Bo Nordh

One of Toku's newest pipes made from Bo Nordh briar strikes me as an unusual homage to Bo in that it's a surprisingly-classic variation of a Bo Nordh "Dublin Canadian" pipe from 1983 (whose pictures have been exhibited before in these pages.)  Fully-worthy of its Hiro Grade, this pipe is probably the finest classically-Danish pipe Toku has ever made.

Go to the Quick Snapshots section of the Photo Gallery opening page, in the Tokutomi Exhibit.  Play the game, "Spot the Toku" and read more about Bo Nordh's briar legacy.

   ROUTE:  Exhibits, Pipe-Makers, Tokutomi, Photo Gallery ...

then scroll down the page.


September 22, 2008

At the beginning of October, I'll be attending a pipe show in Tokyo and mounting a small exhibit of Tokutomi pipes. As always, my goal will be to illustrate Toku's extraordinary creativity by showing a few sequences of his designs, in addition to some individual tours-de-force.  This will be the first time that such a display will be seen in Japan and I look forward to presenting some of Tokutomi's amazing pipes to a group of his countrymen.

The  35th All Japan Pipesmoking Championship and Pipe Show

October 12, 2008

Asakusa Hotel, Tokyo

Sadly, because of my trip to Japan, I shall miss the wonderful CORPS Pipe Show in Richmond for the first time in four years.


September 20, 2008

I've just added two wonderful Kent high-grades to the Pipes ... for Sale section of the Gallery Shop.

It's difficult to part with these pieces.  I bought them several years ago when I had just begun studying of Danish pipes, following my first encounters with Tokutomi and the Japanese carvers. 

Among the first Kents I picked up, I found these two pipes exceptionally charming and informative.  I learned a lot about pipe design by analyzing (and photographing) Kent's work and comparing it with briars from other carvers, like Teddy, Former, Bo Nordh, and Takeo Arita.

Also, I've made some revisions to the main page of Pipes ... for Sale. You'll find some new navigation menus and some refinements in the page's introductory remarks.


September 18, 2008

I've posted the Photographic Supplement to my Pipes & Tobaccos article in the Pipe Notes section.  Three pages of photographs are accessible from the main menu page.


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