Meerschaum pipes are tobacco pipes carved from solid blocks of meerschaum clay, a light, porous, off-white coloured clay found primarily in Turkey. Meerschaum pipes are prized for their nice, cool smoke and their ability to be carved into faces and shapes. These shapes range from bird talons to historical or literary scenes. Depending on the shape, these ornate flourishes can be structurally unsound and easily broken off. Luckily, because it is clay, these pieces can be reattached or replaced using self-drying clay.
Clean the pipe with pipe cleaners and polishing cloths. Pay particular attention to the area around the broken piece. Dirt and other things on the pipe, such as loose tobacco ash, can keep the self-hardening clay from bonding with the pipe.
Place the pipe in the bowl of sand with the broken side up. The sand will hold the pipe steady as you make repairs. If the broken area is too large to use a bowl of sand, other things, such as clamps, can be used to hold the pipe still.
Form the self-hardening clay into the form to be replaced and attach it to the pipe, or place some clay on each end of the broken pieces and reattach them to the pipe. Make sure not to get any sand in or on the repair clay. Let the clay dry as directed on the packaging.
Lightly wrap or drape a damp cloth over the pipe to allow it to dry more slowly. Self-hardening clay may crack if it drys too quickly. If performing repairs in a dry or arid climate, the towel may need to be occasionally remoistened until the clay hardens.
If the pipe also needs a hole or crack patched, take a small amount of clay and fill the hole or crack, taking care not to hinder the airflow through the pipe stem or bowl.
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