A Short Bio on Dura Semjaniv by Jan Andersson (written May 2004)
In the city of Malmö, there was a tobacconist’s shop with old traditions. It was called Pip-Larsson and was founded in 1905. In 1985 the shop was bought by a young man, Dura Semjaniv. There were many requests for repairing of pipes among the customers and these were made by the former owner of the shop, Olle Jonsson. However, Dura thought that repairing pipes would be something useful to do at times with not too many customers in the shop, so he wanted to try for himself. The necessary equipment was bought and Olle Jonsson taught Dura how to do the job. Dura was a quick learner and after a while, having repaired a lot of pipes, it is not curious that he wanted to make a pipe on his own. From a customer, Dura was told about a skilful pipe-maker in Limhamn (a part of Malmö), who perhaps would be willing to teach Dura the basics in pipe-making. Dura phoned him, and that call was the first contact between Arne Ljung and Dura Semjaniv.
Dura bought some blocks from Arne and started with a great enthusiasm. He took the finished pipes to Arne, who in the beginning mostly laughed at the results. But he did not only laugh, he also gave some constructive criticism. After a while it even happened that Dura was praised for a pipe he had made and it is not difficult to understand that he then was very proud.
When Dura and Arne met for the first time, Arne was over 80 years old, but still active, despite the fact that he for a long time had been ill. A close friendship arose between Arne and Dura, and when Arne felt that his strength declined, he told Dura that he wanted him to take all he could use in the workshop, when he was no longer around. And so it became.
Among the things Arne left behind there are five binders with drawings of different shapes. It is fascinating to look at these and they are all very skilfully drawn. These sketches show that Arne had a great love for the classical shapes and you can also see that he was especially fond of Bulldogs.
Pip-Larsson’s is sold
In 1995 Dura sold his shop. Unfortunately, no one wanted to run a tobacconist’s shop there, so it became a shop for souvenirs instead. Dura was sorry about that, but could not do much about it. He moved the workshop to his home in Arlöv. It was not much space for a workshop there, so a small box room was used. This was the smallest workshop I ever saw and I doubt that any pipemaker can concur Dura there. However this extremely small workshop was a wonder of organisation and to find the place for so many machines and tools in such a little space is fascinating.
Dura moves to Lund
Last year Dura and his family moved to a new house in Lund and a convenient outbuilding became his new workshop. It is much larger, but the orderliness is as accurate as it was in his small workshop in Arlöv. All is very functional.
A problem often discussed among pipemakers is how to stamp a pipe properly. It may sound easy, but briar is hard and the surface to be stamped is mostly rounded. Under these circumstances it is hard to do the job properly and the stampings have to be deep enough to stand some future polishing. Dura has a machine to do the job. He bought the equipment from Tom Eltang and as far as I know, Tom and Dura are the only pipemakers to have a machine like this. You may get an opinion of how it works from the picture on the right. You can set exactly how deep you want the stamping to be and the result is perfect.
Dura – Sweden
Dura’s pipes can be stamped in three different ways, but the text is always the same: Dura Sweden and the year with two digits. In the beginning a circular stamp was used, then a straight and now, when he has got the new equipment, there are also three crowns under the straight logo.
Dura often uses other materials on the shank or stem, mostly bamboo, boxwood or horn. Today bamboo is very hard to find – at least in a sufficient quality – but Dura has a lot in stock so it will last for many years to come. He also has quite a lot of boxwood and horn.
What is typical for a pipe made by Dura? This question is hard to answer, but I would say that “playfulness” is a characteristic. He is not afraid to differ from what is usual - but is always most careful about the functionality. One thing I very much appreciate about his pipes is that they are comfortable to hold in the hand. I have rather many pipes made by Dura and they are all very good smokers.
You can see some pictures of Dura’s pipes here, but if you want to see more you can go to his site on Swedish Pipes
Lund – a Swedish centre for pipemaking
Today we have five pipemakers in Sweden. It may seem few, but only 10 years ago there were only two. Of these five pipemakers two are living in Lund and within walking distance from one another.
A cold, snowy day in the middle of January I drove on icy roads to Lund to visit these two pipemakers. First I met Bengt Carlson in his home and as usual we had a nice chat over a cup of coffee. Then Bengt accompanied me to Dura, whom I had not visited since he moved to Lund.
It became a very nice afternoon with a lot of “pipe-talk”. It is fascinating to listen when two pipemakers meet. It is a continuous exchange of experiences, there are no secrecies, no feeling that anyone is trying to keep certain things to himself.
It certainly is a little difficult to follow the conversation when it comes to such “technicalities” we laymen do not understand very much about. But it is lovely sitting there, looking at all beautiful pipes, some of them completely ready others just started, smell the aroma of briar and stains while in the background you hear these two pipemakers discussing how to adjust the lathe to work most properly or another technical problem. This is really relaxing and in moments like that our hobby is at its best.
With great sadness: Swedish pipemaker Dura Semjaniv deceased on the January 19th, 2008 in his 54th year of life.
Dura's Pipes avaiable from: Dura's Website In Sweden In USA Email mailto:email@example.com