Until the last turn of the century there were only a few people in our country making pipes professionally – they were three to be more precise. And all three of them were living in Scania, the very southern part of Sweden. The explanation for that probably is that it is so close to Denmark, where there are far more pipemakers. But in this new century a lot has happened. We have got more pipemakers in Sweden and all of them are no longer found in the southern part of our country. The latest addition is a young man named Albert Älfvåg and he is living in Stockholm. As readers of this magazine know, he is not the first pipemaker in our capital. We have previously introduced you to Andreas Bennwik, who also resides there.
Albert Älfvåg (* 1993) lives and has his studio in the same house in Vallentuna (a part of Stockholm) where he was born. I have not yet had the occasion to visit him at home and to see his workshop, but I suppose it is a pretty big house, because Albert has five brothers and sisters. This interview was made at our club’s annual meeting in Gothenburg last June. At that occasion Albert brought the pipes that are pictured here.
When I asked Albert about his schooling, I got the somewhat surprising answer that in high school he chose the hotel- and restaurant-line. Nothing that indicated that he intended to be an artisan. But you may have more than one interest in life, Bo Nordh started his career as a baker. Since Albert finished high school, he has used the education from high school by working in a school-kitchen.
A pipe rack may be fascinating
But how did he become interested in pipes? Well, in his home there was a pipe-rack carrying his father’s pipes. His father had stopped smoking long ago, but the pipes still remained in the rack. Albert often looked at them and, above all, he was fascinated by the wood the pipes were made from. What kind of wood was it and had the pipes the wood’s natural color? The questions were many, but today most answers can be found on the net. The interest to make a pipe himself was awakened and he ordered a few blocks and some ready-molded shafts. A common beginning for a pipemaker to be.
An important visit
On a vacation trip to Italy in 2003 Albert’s wish to start making pipes became even more evident. He had made an appointment to meet Romeo Domenico, better known as Mimmo. Mimmo is not only a very talented pipemaker, he also fells briar that there are plenty of in the mountains around his home. He is known for delivering the very best when it comes to blocks, which is not only due to the very high quality of the wood. It requires a great knowledge to cut the briar so that you get the best grain possible. Mimmo is a true master when it comes to that.
From Mimmo Albert learned the basics in pipe-making and about the materials used. His interest was aroused and well back home, he systematically started to build a workshop. Today, this workshop is complete and the latest addition was an equipment for sandblasting. The pipe at the bottom of last Picture here is the first blasted pipe he made.
A true perfectionist
My first meeting with Albert was last fall at our club’s pipe-auction in Malmö. He had brought a couple of pipes and many of us were surprised that such a young and still fairly inexperienced guy could make something like that. Since then I have heard many positive reactions about his pipes and I have also seen some of them on the Internet. So when I heard that he was coming to our club’s annual meeting in Gothenburg I asked him to bring the pipes he had finished.
It is clear that Albert is a true perfectionist. He devotes meticulous care to every little detail when he makes a pipe, but it is not only the precision that impresses on me. He also has a pronounced sense for design and proportions.
So far Albert only sells his pipes through acquaintances and social medias on the net. But I am convinced that will soon change. His immediate plan, when we met last June, was another visit to Mimmo in Italy. The next plan is to go to the pipe-show in Chicago next year. I am convinced that his pipes will appeal to many of the visitors there.