One of the pearls along the west coast of Sweden is the city of Halmstad. This special visit there took place last summer, on a day when the sun was shining from a deep blue sky. Certainly the wind was a bit chilly but there was a heavy sea, which is always a beautiful view, and when you are about to visit a new Swedish pipemaker, always a precious moment, it looks even more beautiful.
Jonas Rosengran (*1972) lives with his family in a rather centrally located house. But in the garden behind the house, it is hard to believe that you are so close to the town centre. Halmstad is a rather big city with a bustling traffic, but here in the garden it is nice and quiet, due to the fact that Jonas’ house is located in an older residential neighborhood without through traffic and where the protective vegetation has had time to grow properly.
A versatile man
Despite his relatively young age, Jonas has tried a lot in his life. He has been repairing different kinds of vehicles, has been an aircraft mechanic, has been breeding aquarium fishes, been a salesman and a lot more. However, in 2004 Jonas decided to become a teacher and started to study biology and mathematics at the university. He liked biology but not mathematics, so he exchanged that for woodwork. And it is as a teacher of woodwork Jonas is active today.
It is not surprising that Jonas finally was fixed on woodwork, for he has a lot of heredity in that field. Many of his ancestors on his mother’s side have beencabinet-makers and Jonas himself has always taken a great interest in handicraft. But what really turned him on was when he in 2006 bought his first lathe. It was just an ordinary lathe, bought in a department store and for amateur use. After just one year Jonas had been turning so frequently that it was completely worn out. Then he found a used professional lathe, which still has a certain place in his workshop. Even if you do not use that kind of a lathe when making pipes, it is useful for many other things, like ashtrays and tampers.
Jonas also took an interest in making knives, so he visited a famous knife-maker named Börje Thelberg. During that visit he got the idea that making a living by some kind of handicraft would be really wonderful. He said so to Börje, who replied: “Why don’t you start making pipes?” The reason for that answer was that Börje himself wants to start making pipes and is re-building his workshop to be able to make pipes as well as knives. Jonas immediately was interested. He had certainly not been smoking a pipe for many years and when he once had, it was mostly corncobs. Jonas started to search the web and found a lot. Among other things he found the Pipe Club of Sweden and immediately applied for a membership. He also found the book about Bo Nordh and was fascinated, when he saw the beautiful things this master had created. This was something he really wanted to do! But Jonas realized that to make a pipe that is not only beautiful to look at but also a good smoker, he had to know exactly how a pipe works. So the habit to smoke a pipe had to be revived. During a visit to Gothenburg he bought a Chacom pipe and a tin of tobacco. For the first smoke in his new pipe he chose the beautiful surroundings in the Botanical Gardens. And it tasted wonderful!
A lot of help
Jonas was glad to find that there was another pipemaker in his own town, Halmstad. So the first pipemaker he visited was Lars-Göran (Gurra) Markunger. Then the ball started to roll quickly. During a visit to Linköping he visited Ronny Thunér, his next contact was with Bengt Carlson in Lund and then Anders Nilsson and Martin Vollmer in Malmö. Jonas was astonished by the openness and helpfulness all of them showed him; they willingly shared all their knowledge, gave him advice and helped him to find necessary tools and material.
Jonas is a man who does not let the grass grow under his feet, so it did not take long until he had found the necessary equipment and could start making his first pipes. Today he has a functional workshop in the basement of his house. But there are just very small windows and Jonas misses that he can not look out when working, so his plan is to build an outbuilding in the spacious garden.
Smooth and sandblasted pipes
When I visited Jonas he had not been making pipes for long, but his background as a skilled craftsman was evident, the handicraft was first class. His pipes are either smooth or sandblasted and are stamped with his initials and the country of origin, Sweden. For that he is using an engraving machine, which initially comes from the late pipemaker Dura Semjaniv. Then Bengt Carlson bought it, but did not find that he needed a machine like that, so it is now in Jonas’ possession.
Time passes quickly when you are enjoying yourself, and when Jonas’ wife Kicki comes home from work and their two sons Oscar and Lucas have finished school, I understand that more than just a few hours have passed. I have to say goodbye and go back home, but I am confident that I will soon be back in this pleasant house in Halmstad. With the determination and go-ahead Jonas shows, I am convinced that there will happen a lot in the future – and I am sure that future is not far away.