I could adopt Erwins words and observations almost word for word. Like Erwin I started watching Rad when he was introduced by Mark Tinsky. I also didnt expect more than the typical stem in a block freehand, but even then I saw a flare in his shapes that kept me coming back for a look. And each time I came back he had made a quantum leap. First he inset those tenons that were previously sticking out. That was a big relief as to my eye that is Exhibit A for an amateur. Then there were some flush stems followed by some brandy shapes and scoops. And then handcut stems quickly followed by Cumberland, which had me cheering. I think it was just before he went to Cumberland that I tried to acquire my first Rad, a small blonde horn, that maybe had a Cumberland stem, now that I think about it. Not surprisingly the pipe was sold, but I was finding more and more pipes on his site that I would be glad to own. Shortly after that Rad and I started talking shapes and I was fortunate enough to see many of his new shapes beforehand, able to offer my two cents, for whatever it was worth. His internal design program was set on overdrive, something that I can quite identify with, and it was a pure joy to watch his shapes evolve. Having had a good look at his pipes in Chicago I knew that his construction, craftsmanship and detailing was right were it needed to be, far in excess of his pricepoint, so the evolution of his shapes was escpecilly meaningful.
Having been through a year of mind-numbing expenses, other than the Chicago show I have only bought one pipe, a Barbi back in June. So, towards the end of the year, I decided to give myself a bonus for my toils for Ming 2005. Or, that was the excuse for buying a pipe that I saw on Rads site that just knocked my socks off. It was a 1/3 bent rusticated squash tomato with a saddle Cumberland stem. It can be seen here: The rustication, most unique, is sort of a straight grain pattern running from the top to the bottom of the bowl. To my eye the proportions, balance, and flow of the piece was perfect. So, after scraping together some discretionary funds, a good trick this time of year, the pipe arrived yesterday and Ive smoked my first bowl, and am now part way through the second. Again Ill refer you back to Erwins review, but I could not ask for a better first bowl. Further, the construction and detailing of the piece is right where I would want it to be. Fit, finish and craftsmanship are top notch. The stem work is especially nice with a superb finish. For a grand total of $175 (and $230 to $285 for a smooth) I have a pipe that offers what one would expect in a high priced premium pipe. What Rad has created is a lower priced premium pipe with the only difference from its higher priced brethren being price. Based on my experience, I see Rads pipes as offering the best values in the pipe world today. It hasnt been since discovering Jorn Larsen pipes that I have considered putting together a seven day set, but I can really see seven Rads as a goal for 2006. Im very happy for Rad that he has achieved so much in such a relatively short time. That to me takes a lot of talent and intense effort. It couldnt have happened to a nicer guy.