Winston’s visited with Davorin Denovic about his history, pipe smoking, and his unique pipes. Davorin is from Croatia and English is not his first language but his answers are easy to follow.
You can buy Davorin's Pipes Here.
Winston’s: When did you take up this great hobby of pipe smoking?
Davorin: Well, it was a long time ago. I bought my first pipe when I was a student at the University. Now, I have been a devoted pipe smoker for forty years. I am also president of Association of Pipesmokers “Lula” from Zagreb, Croatia.
W: When did you carve your first pipe?
D: That is an interesting story. In 1995 I met Ivo Oblian, a great pipe carver whose pipes were very special. Keep in mind that at those times, mostly classical pipes shapes were available to me, the ones made by Peterson, Brebbia, Savinelli, Stanwell, etc. But Ivo Oblian’s pipes were like a fantasy with every pipe being a part of an interesting wood sculpture. I commissioned a pipe made by him, and soon received something completely new and made just for me. We got to know each other, and I spent some time in his workshop, learning the basics of pipe carving. My first pipes came alive in 1996. For me, technical part is not such a big problem because I am an engineer. Seven years ago I met my present day colleague, Mr. Darko. He is harvesting morta wood, and he is a professional wood maker. This is where it all begun, and was start of brand DMP... ( Davorin Morta Pipes )
W:You are known for your beautiful use of Morta wood, do you work with other materials?
D:Yes, I started with briar wood. But I wanted to do something different. Firstly, I purchased briar from different sources like Italy, Spain, Greece, but I was not always satisfied with its quality. Today the process of drying briar wood is very short, which results with lower density of the wood. Because Croatia is partly a Mediterranean country, very soon I find where and how to harvest briar wood. It was mostly in Croatian islands, where it can be very windy during the winter. Using proper methods of harvesting and processing I can have very high quality briar wood. Pipes made from this wood I am called ‘Adriatic briar pipes'.
Olive wood is also very common on the Adriatic coast. Eight years ago, Mr. Darko processed few cubic meters of olive wood that was approximately 180-200 years old. When properly dried, this wood is of very good quality and I make some olive pipe for time to time. But my real and true "love" is morta wood. It is very difficult to carve, and with a lot of problems in process, but the final result is something very special. And it has a good story as well. Just imagine, that wood stood there 3000 to 8000 years ago, and today I use it for my pipes.
Here is few example of my briar and olive pipes
W:Where do you get the morta you use from your pipes? Have you been out to the bogs where the wood comes from?
D: My business partner Darko started harvesting morta in the year 2000. It was in the Croatian river Sava, especially in the region where oak tree forests still exists. Morta, Bog Oak or in Croatian ‘crni dub’, was harvesed by scuba divers 3-8 meters deep in the water. It took years to find the right technology on how to preserve morta wood before processing it and after that thinking of a proper drying process to preserve the density of wood. Only 1 % of processed wood has enough quality to be used for pipes. Unfortunately, in the market we can find low quality morta, with low-density and processed in wrong way. That is not suitable for making quality pipes.
Here are a few photos of harvesting morta wood.
W:Tell us a little about the process of carving a morta pipe? Does it work differently from briar?
D:There is a lot of difference between those two. Morta is a much stiffer wood, harder to work with and different tools are needed than for briar. Despite the fact that most of the tools I use, are for processing metals, they still cannot be used for a long time. I use mostly hand tools, never lathe, because the shapes I make are in most cases only similar to traditional pipe shapes. I never dye morta wood. It is always of a natural wood color, and it depends on its age and minerals in river.
W: What is your favorite pipe tobacco style or blend? Do you think a certain type of tobacco smokes the best in Morta?
D: I like English mixtures, especially with lots of Latakia. Dunhill tobaccos are very fine for example, but I like other producers as well. I am not big fan of high aromatic tobaccos. In my experience, and many other pipe smokers, English mixtures are best from morta pipes.
If you would like to read more about Davorin, his pipes, and Morta you can check out his website here.