Wednesday, 12 July, 2006

Rest In Peace, Bo

Posted in Pipes & Tobaccos at 1:07 am by glpease

I had something in mind to write about, but was stopped short by the receipt of some very sad news.

Tonight, I received word that Bo Nordh, considered by many to be the world’s greatest living pipe maker, lhas eft this earth. He’d been in hospital, gravely ill, but it is nevertheless disquieting to know that the inevitable has come to pass.

I first met Bo in 2001 while visiting with the Svenska Pipklubben at their annual BBQ at Bo’s house. He was a wonderful host, a great cook, and an avid lover of jazz and blues music, of which he spoke with encyclopedic knowledge. I cherish the memory of that evening, now more than ever.

Bo had a unique style, and a remarkable attention for detail. The first time I ever saw one of his pipes, I was instantly in awe of the precision of the construction. Taking the pipe apart was revelatory – I had no idea briar and vulcanite could fit together so smoothly, so precisely. The joint between the stem and shank was almost undetectable, even to trained fingers. The shape was graceful, balanced and poised. The finish, flawless. Bo only made a few pipes each year, but each was a masterpiece.

I was in his shop while he was working on one of his Ramses shapes and was fortunate to witness the birth of a pipe that, eventually, became the most perfect (and expensive!) he’d ever made. But, even more than that exquisitely amazing pipe, it was Bo’s hospitality and warmth that I remember.

I can type no more. We have lost a great pipe maker, an artist, a mentor to many. For those who knew him, a friend has departed. I will light a candle in his name, and make offerings to the four winds, to the earth and to the heavens. May he rest in peace.

Farewell, Bo. You are remembered.

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4 Comments »

  1. a11en said,

    A very sad day for the pipe-world. Truly a master artisan. My prayers go up to his friends and family, and I will smoke tomorrow in his honor, sending my modest incense up for him.

    requiescat in pace, Bo!

  2. glpease said,

    It’s true. Bo’s work was remarkable in many respects. Though I am not crazy about all of his shapes, some have become modern classics, and have been widely copied. He had a sense of grace, of fluidity in his lines, of wonderful balance. His craftsmanship was exemplary. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to spend some time with him.

    I wish I had one of his pipes, but the budget has never quite allowed for that…

  3. Ian Weeks said,

    Thanks Greg for the wonderful tribute and sharing with us your first encounter with Bo.

  4. Tom Brown said,

    Bo Nordh was an authentic, an original. I have some vintage Iwan Reis catalogs from the early 1970s, which featured the creations of Bo Nordh, Ann Julie, and Sven Laarson. It was then the apogee of Danish design, and genuine freehands were the non plus ultra of the stylish pipe smoker. The late Preben Holm was feaured also.

    Bo’s creaions were among he finest, their depictions in the catalogs enhanced (or at least not deminished) by partially-clad shapely girls in bell-bottoms.

    Any craftsman like Bo, who created real art from a lump of briar, is worthy of Colleridge’s highest praise for human possibility: “To see Infinity in a grain of sand, and Eternity in an hour.”

    Tom Brown


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