The Owl Meerschaum. Frontal View Before Cleaning/Waxing. © 2017 James Hill
Greetings Pipemen! I hope this post finds you all well! I found this little owl-shaped meer on ebay and put in a bid. Happily mine won and soon the pipe was on its way to Texas.
Upon unpacking, I had a close look at the stummel and found it to be quite dry, a little dirty, and mostly off-white with some patches of color here and there. I also found a sticky layer of cake buildup in the chamber.
The Owl Meerschaum Side View Before Cleaning/Waxing. © 2017 James Hill
The Owl Meerschaum’s Tobacco Chamber Before Cleaning. © 2017 James Hill
After removing the stem, my first order of business was to clean the chamber. I gave it a gentle sanding with 200 grit sandpaper wrapped around a marker. Not wanting to damage the material of the pipe, I sanded it down to where I could see the stone peeking through a light layer of carbon. Happily, I was able to get all of the sticky stuff out.
When I removed the stem I did come across a bit of a mystery - a paper cylinder sleeve covering part of the airway. I cannot find ANY info about this thing other than another reference online to finding one in another meer. Does anyone know what the proper name of this sleeve is and where I can get a replacement? The one that came with the pipe has seen better days and may not hold out much longer.
Stummel with the mystery paper sleeve. © 2017 James Hill
After cleaning the chamber, I gave the airway a cleaning. It was in pretty good condition and only needed a few pipe cleaners to be brought up to ship shape. Afterwards, I brushed the surface of the pipe with a soft toothbrush. I then used a pick to dislodge a few pieces of gunk stuck in the nooks and crannies of the carvings.
Following the cleaning, I put on some 100% beeswax to melt while I gently heated the pipe with a hair dryer. Once the wax was completely melted, I used a paintbrush to apply the wax to the entire surface, making sure to get it into every crevice.
Waxed Stummel. © 2017 James Hill
I let the wax settle in a bit then heated the stummel with the hairdryer again. Almost all of the wax absorbed - this little meer was thirsty! I repeated the waxing process then let the stummel sit and rest while I cleaned and polished the stem.
The stem’s airway was pretty clean already, and again it only took a few pipe cleaners to get it squared away. I cleaned and polished the surface of the stem then gave it a couple of coats of carnauba.
After its cleaning and waxing this little meer looks much better! The wax has drawn more of the color to the surface and over time this should darken to a lovely mahogany hue! I’m looking forward to having this meer in my rotation!
Until next time, keep the fires lit, pipemen!
The Finished Product. © 2017 James Hill