So here is the finished product. Obviously with the crack this will be someone's shop pipe. I am looking for criticism becasue this is my first author and I'm going to try to make another one and hope to make it better. The shape is based on the Savinelli 320 EX. It is a large pipe and has a 1" chamber.
Things I see are a stem that needs a little more upward cant (although among chubby authors the Savinellis do not have much upward cant.) I think the stem should have been a tiny bit shorter and the bend of the stem should have started closer to the shank. Bending a thick stem like this was tricky I must say.
I think the stummel might should be a little more volcano-ish and a little less apple-ish.
Nice looking author @N80. Very impressive for the first attempt. Congrats. Given all the briar challenges, this is a beautiful pipe with character.
Agree the stem may be too long in proportion to the briar. You nailed the bowl and shank. Think a little more angle in the shank and shorter stem would solve the look. Also, the bowl could be more round instead of volcano-ish.
What you made looks very similar to an author Rad Davis made in his early carving days before he turned his own stems. I ended up having George Dibos make a shorter replacement stem and it looks great. Even Rad was impressed with the final outcome. The original and new stems are interchangeable.
Authors are super, super hard. There isn't really a template everyone agrees on, and if you make it too long it looks stupid, too fat it looks stupid, too brandyish it looks stupid, too applish it looks stupid... Even the authors that won the carving contest a few years back mostly were terrible renditions imho, giant fat sperm things rather than authors.
In terms of buying briar... buying expensive blocks is no guarantee against fissures, briar is graded mostly for grain. Certain supplies are cleaner than others. I think the stuff I've had from Makis' mill in Greece is amongst the very best for fissure size and frequency. And the current Algerian stuff is probably the worst, I never get a smooth out of that stuff. Mimmo's #2 is still a good deal. It's nice to have a few flashy pieces around, but for a guy not cutting a pipe every day, buyinng a dozen average-quality blocks is probably the way to go. You'll throw out 1 or 2 for sure, but you shouldn't be finding flaws in everything.