After about a year of playing around with my Grandad's old humidor, I've finally gotten a decent humidification system going. I'll explain what I've learned, which will be dull for all who have forged this road before, and then talk about about the trials of moving from the South to the upper Midwest/Northlands.
I've had this old milk glass and cedar humidor for a few years now. It's in remarkably good shape considering it was used as a sort of secretary by my grandmother for years, misc. knitting items, etc. While nothing fancy, it is simple, elegant and has the advantage of sentimental history too. It's a basic one drawer, one door cabinet. The door doesn't seal perfectly anymore--though with careful application of water, I can get it to swell shut very well--works just fine.
In the South, this slightly loose door didn't pose a problem. The relative humidity was environmentally high enough, that even in the Winter months, I could stick with my 65% Heartfelt Industry humidity beads with no worries. I did check the RH more frequently, and did lightly dampen the beads a bit more--but that was it. And this little increase in ritual was pleasant.
My set up was thus: one half pound bag of 65% Heartfelt Industry 65% beads, divided equally into three upcycled .22 caliber small, clear ammo trays. I kept two ammo trays slightly more heavily moistened on the bottom level of the humidor, and one tray, mostly 'dry' on the upper shelf. This combo seemed to release/absorb humidity very nicely. The .22 ammo trays don't take up much space, aesthetically I like the clear sides and rectangular shape of the trays--and practically, it's easy to eyeball the trays and decide when I need to add more purified water. On the bottom level of the humidor I have 3 ventilated cedar trays with dividers organizing cigars, then there's a cedar shelf, and on the upper level I have a few small boxes of cigars. Everything stayed well humidified.
BUT THEN...I moved to the upper Mid/Northwestern states--and the cold and dry here threw my carefully regulated system out the window.
After fiddling around far too much with my 65% beads, adding moisture at a much faster rate, getting in the humidor weekly to fuss, etc, I finally got a bag of 70% Heartfelt Industry beads. I generally like my sticks closer to the 65% mark, but what I found was in the cold, dry winter months here, if I swap out the 70% beads, they maintain a much more steady RH of around 67-70%, with far less maintenance. Prior to this change, my humidor was always in the low 60% range and tended toward dryness. Too dry, and my humidor door had a tendency to swing open. Solved this with the higher RH beads too.
When winter recedes, I swap back to my original 65% beads--same set up--and voila! The humidity in the summer maintains fairly well at about 64-66%.
Overall, my RH is far more stable with this system--and the yearly swap of beads is also an excellent opportunity to really get in the humidor, rotate sticks and check everything over carefully prior to the seasonal shift. A sort of Spring Cleaning that keeps me honest with what I'm actually smoking, what I've simply hoarded, sticks I've moved away from enjoying, etc. It's a great time to weed out those less favored smokes and prepare a few surprise care packages for my buddies.
The offerings and availability of these cigars are opaque at best. I'm sure this is intentional to drive desire. Frankly, it's working with me, but is also reeeeally irritating. I never did fine the two Titanium offerings, available only in Brick and Mortar shops. Might as well have been a couple unicorns. UPDATE! Finally found a couple of each Titanium! 10/10/2014
The latest three are:
- Cobalt (the Goblin)
- Dubnium (the Cheshire cat)
- Lithium (the Battery)
Foundry's online site images actually match what was shown at the 2014 IPCPR--though I don't know if the mass-produced released boxes will remain the same as what Cigar-Coop has on their site. Cigar-Coop thus far is the only place I've found decent images of the 'real' product -- vs the promo images at Foundry Tobacco. I'm sure as these stogies hit the market more images will be made available--and as I did with the original Compounds, Elements, Musings--as I find my own I'll upload my personal images. Until then, we have pics from Foundry Tobacco, followed by cigar-coop's:
UPDATE:10/10/2014 ~ Got a sample of each one, haven't tried any yet, but here are mine: Look how dark the wrapper is on Lithium. Gorgeous.
"Cobalt is an essential element for creating alloys. It's prized for its ability to bond disparate materials into a single, unified compound. Similarly this cigar fuses a diverse blend of tobaccos into a cohesive product for an experience that's truly greater than the sum of its parts." ~ Foundry Tobacco
Michael Giannini said that Cobalt will be a collector's item--the small, round box, limited availability of the tobacco--and the fact that the tobacco in much of the Elements line is limited--when it's done, it's done forever.
From Wikipedia: "Miners had long used the name kobold ore (German for goblin ore) for some of the blue-pigment producing minerals; they were so named because they were poor in known metals, and gave poisonous arsenic-containing fumes upon smelting."
The somewhat thin, rectangular box-press is quite pleasing to hold. The paper wrapper bit into a small portion of the cigar wrapper--just slightly and not enough to affect burn, I believe. But on all the 2014 issued Compounds, Elements & Musings cigars I've received, several of the paper wrappers seemed sloppily applied.
"Mystery, whimsy and just a hing of mischief--The Cheshire cat beckons us onward to explore the unexplored and discover the undiscovered. A curious, yet deeply satisfying blend of tobaccos to make for an experience you'll never forget." ~ Foundry Tobacco
In an interviews, Michael Giannini has said several funny things about this cigar, likening the Cheshire Cat's grin to his own smile ("the cat that ate the canary"), letting us know that the "DB" in Dubnium stands for Douche Bag--and that it's a sort of spiritual sister his earlier Uranium (the skeleton flipping the bird at TSA agents). He's an interesting guy.
The paper wrapper on Dubnium is cool. I'm looking forward to stretching it out to take in the artwork. BUT, large ring cigars are not my thing. Like the other large cigar, Uranium, I think it'll be some time before I feel like tackling these enormous stogies. Anything approaching 60 is a personal turn-off. I know the size is experiencing a real up-tick in popularity. To each their own.
"One of man's greatest achievements was learning to harness the Earth's energy. Just as a battery uses common metals to store and release power at our convenience, this exhilarating cigar represents another astonishing feat: capturing the energy of the sun, the wind, and the rain imbued into each tobacco leaf." ~ Foundry Tobacco
Pretty straight-forward, but elegant canister design based upon a battery. I like this cigar box design the best. Personally. Also, the deep espresso color of the wrapper is amazing--it's nearly black. Really looking forward to giving this one a try! Of the three, Lithium is the one I'm most excited by. The thin ring gauge is right in my comfort zone, the wrapper looks super yummy. Gonna let these all rest a bit in the humidor, perhaps over the entire winter here--and then look forward to a treat in a few months as Spring arrives.
I never did get my mitts on the two vitolas of Titanium. UPDATE 10/10/14 ~ Finally got a small bag of both sizes! Unicorns exist! These appeared to be a B&M offering only--and that's fine, unless you live in East Bygone just past the Point of No Return--easily confused with the other exit: Abandon Hope.
Having said that, I have just ordered five of their latest offerings. And the only reason I was able to? Available online. I know it's great to shop in Brick and Mortar stores. I fully support that. But damn it's irritating when some cigars are restricted to in-shop only and contractually forbidden to be sold online.
There's very little info about there currently about the latest five offerings. The only images I can find so far, from the only two sites currently selling these offerings, are cigar.com & cigarsinternational.com. Foundry's own website doesn't even feature them--odd, right?
UPDATE 10/10/2014 ~ Adding some of my own images to the ones mentioned above, now that I finally have them in hand.
Aged Honduran binder & wrapper leaf. Mix of Nicaraguan, Dominican & Honduran long-fillers. Medium-Full.
Like the stylized eagle on the larger wrap--fitting for a cigar named Americum. As is the inclusion of the U.S. grown Connecticut wrapper.
I'm going to mention that the large, stiff paper wrappers on many of the 2014 Compounds, Elements & Musings aren't applied with the same care as the concept's inaugural release. Add to that the slightly irregular lines of my Americum cigar--and it makes for an overall cheap first impression. Putting that initial visual impression aside, the idea of the look of the thing is attractive. Nitpicky, yes. But the entirety of the experience is the thing.
Cameroon binder, Honduran wrapper. Mix of Nicaraguan, San Andres and 'mysetrious' long-fillers. Medium-Full.
The unique center box opening along the x-rayed sternum is interesting. The box in this case, protects the cigars just as the ribcage protects our heart and lungs. Perhaps some smoking irony?
Brazilian binder, U.S. grown Connecticut broadleaf wrapper. Mix of Dominican, Honduran and 'mysterious' long-fillers. Medium-Full.
The key that ships with each box of Krypton actually releases the lid latch. Cool feature. Nice attention to functional detail. The skull-shaped key logo is an interesting detail.
Indonesian binder, Ecuadorian Connecticut wrapper. Mix of Dominican, Nicaraguan long-fillers. Mild-Medium.
I love this box & label. The Piccaso-esque ape figure--the way the container echos the label--this is the one-two punch I'd want. Personally, the large ring cigars aren't my deal. I like a thinner gauge cigar. But for those who like a beefier stick, this is pretty nice.
Secret binder, Brazilian wrapper. Mix of Dominican & Honduran long-fillers. Medium.
This is the only label that doesn't appear to have the Compounds 'element' logo on it. It reminds me strongly of the H2O trio of cigars offered in the original Compounds, Elements, Musings in 2013.
Here's the 2014 line-up of Compounds, Elements & Musings:
So, I like cigars. I approach them in the same way I approach tea & tea drinking: as a ritual, a reward, a relaxation. These are sensory pleasures: contemplative and experiential. But, as a woman in a heavily male dominated world, cigar smoking is a pleasure I'm both careful about & protective of.
In both action and language I keep my cigars as a treat & retreat. Even in the above intro, I made certain to say 'sensory' as opposed to 'sensual.' Though both are true, women are so highly sexualized, especially in regard to cigars: is the stick not often simply used as an evocative, erotic stand-in for another kind of 'chubby'?
Whether fair or not, there are conventions I employ that help me enjoy my hobby, privately. As with many introverts, do we not find heightened pleasure in singular, intimate rituals, those solitary moments we jealously guard? My occasional cigar is this. I don't seek camaraderie with this experience. Which is not to say that I don't seek out conversation and knowledge from other cigar enthusiasts; I do. And I relish opportunities to share and trade sticks with others, that 'brother-/sister-hood' I happily participate in. Smoking I still prefer alone.
Why? A wheel graph might indicate some part self-consciousness, some part hyper-vigilance against becoming an unwitting sexualized member of a community, the paranoia of being perceived as such, the boredom of proving otherwise. How many times have I wandered into a humidor and spent the first long minutes presenting a 'provanance' of sorts to the proprietor? Proving I'm not clueless, establishing that I fit. How many times have I asked after a new blend, only to be dismissed with: "I've never heard of that. It must be flavored." Cause you know, as a girl, I must only want to smoke sweetened, flavored sticks. Or I'm just wrong. That new cigar probably doesn't exist. Regardless of industry news.
Of course these are generalizations. I'd say it's about a 50/50 split. Which means half of my interactions are great. I've got my intro down to smooth science now. Friendly, drop a few brand interests & flavor profiles I like--and the proprietor sees that I'm there for my own enjoyment. And this lets us drop into regular relaxed roles: happy cigar smokers sharing a love of cigars.
Yet, there are old bastions out there. And that's fine. I really enjoy some of the exclusivity of cigar smoking, the simultaneous 'brotherhood' but also closed ranks of smokers. How can I express this? I don't want old men to have to open up their hallowed escape from women to me. I'm happy for man caves and men's retreats. As a shy and introverted soul, I achingly understand the need and love of a certain type of space, private space, ritual space, sometimes "guy" space. I get it on a very deep level and have no desire to rock this boat. In places like that, if they have a great selection but a 'boys only' attitude, I go early to check out the wares, make my picks and leave. Since I don't like smoking with others, I'm not seeking fellowship--just good product. So I'm happy to shop in peace and get the hell out. But for those places that enjoy having sisters of the leaf, I sure do appreciate that community.
If I sound vaguely self-diminishing, I don't mean to be. It's difficult for me to distill my thoughts about this well. I'm dashing this off to have a thing to look at and refine later. But, I'm a fan of private space. As such, I have no desire to intrude upon someone else's haven.
Back in 2012, when General Cigar Co. released the first four cigars in what was known as 'Foundry' and what later became it's own brand, Foundry Tobacco Company--there were rumors of a potential marketing gimmick--a sort of 'secret decoder ring' that was shipping with each cigar. The ring, which was styled as a small, metal 'gear' looked attractive and certainly made the cigar stand out from the crown. But what was the purpose of that gear? And would it really turn out to part of a larger whole? Or were we just being led down the garden path After a year of anticipation...the secret revealed:
Foundry Tobacco Company's humidor arrives in an attractive glossy white cardboard box, with a shimmery, slightly metallic "foundry" logo stamped on the lid. A pleasing package with a modern, contemporary look, in contrast to the Steampunk/Victorian aesthetic Foundry is known for. The box is sturdy--I feel secure that the humidor contained within is well-protected.
But I have to say, I'm surprised by how small this box is. I've seen perhaps one picture of this humidor online, I always assumed it to be larger, longer. What I have in front of me is approximately 8"x8."
The unboxing is a treat--the humidor appears to be well-cushioned: it ships in a bubble-wrap envelope, with tissue protecting the inner edges of the humidor from unecessary friction against the humidor lid. Kudos for considring shipping issues. Once the bubble-wrap and tissue are removed, I'm left with this:
The humidor is covered in a golden-brown tan leather, reminiscent of fine Connecticut wrappers. There are antiqued bronze-looking filigree corners and an over-sized locking mechanism that claims pride of place atop the humidor. Surrounding the lock, across the Connecticut leather, an embossed rusty grate lends both color and texture. An impressive unveiling. Time to pull this out of the protective glossy box.
After removing the humidor, I turn it to its side: on one end there's a leather 'suitcase' handle, secured by to aged bronze-looking tabs. Sturdy and well-secured, I have no doubt that the handle will wear well and carry the travel humidor easily. The raised handle padding is for looks more than function, but it's a an appreciated visual element. There are more decorative edge protectors on each corner of the humidor.
Turning the humidor again, I inspect both hinged ends of the box. The metal hinge is wide and strong. It should easily support the weight of the dual-lift lid. The leather is slightly pock-marked and I assume this is either intentional weathering of the leather--or just natural marks in the skin, and not a defect per se. It doesn't look like a defect, but I mention it for those who may be expecting a perfectly smooth exterior. The imperfections add to Foundry's overall all artistic conceit: antique/retro reinvention of the new.
The one MAJOR disappointment here is that ridiculous warning sticker. This absolutely should have been placed on the bottom of the box, instead of marring the leather. It is extremely difficult to remove and pulls the leather to distortion. After trying futilely for several minutes to remove it, I'm going to hit it with a hairdryer (carefully!) to see if heating the sticker will soften the adhesive and allow me to remove this offensive thing, without further pulling the leather. A stupid misstep for yet another Smoking Warning. As though every box of cigars, every carton of cigarettes, every nicotine advertisement doesn't already carry this warning--please, by all means, slap a shitty sticker on this leather box!
The bottom of the box is also covered with leather (!) where I'd have expected, say, felt. The leather wrap is a very nice touch--but wherever that sticker ends up, exercise extreme care with removal. But enough crabbing, let's open this baby up!
Yes, both sides open to lay completely flat--but I wanted some pics of the angled edge. The lighter & cutter are thrown in for size: again, this is a quite small box. I'd call it a travel humidor, but many popular long cigars will not fit within the interior dimensions. Consider that. Here, the hinge is well displayed--it's tough and will surely wear well. These wings aren't going anywhere anytime soon! The cedar-lined chest is well constructed, without any gaps. I look forward to seasoning this little guy, to see how well it maintains its humidity. Closed the lids fit snugly onto the base. I have high hopes that the additional expansion, once treated, will seal this humidor up tight. Time will tell.
Michael Giannini, General Cigar Co's creative director and the originator of the Foundry cigar line has described this little box as a sort of Victorian tool box. It's an imaginative idea--but no tools would even begin to fit in this little crate. Much of Foundry is driven more by artistic vision and playful re-invention, rather than strict adherence to function or 'real-world' alternative use. It works! Although, I wish his humidor was about 2 inches longer, end-to-end. If this were the case, it would fit all but the longest of cigars, and I believe greatly enhance its usability/usefulness. C'est la vie.
The first smoke I dropped in here, knowing it would be too large, is Foundry's Uranium cigar. This stogie's a big'un at 7x70. Woof. It fits, but only angled. Regardless of girth, any long cigar (over 6+ inches) will have trouble in this petite humidor. Pictured next are a handful of Foundry cigars that do fit: and it's just about every other offering in their line.
So let's talk Gear. Specifically, the small metal gear that shipped with every original Foundry cigar in 2012 (the Caley, Lovelace, Talbot and Wells). All along, Foundry teased us with hints that this ring wasn't just for looks, or an advertising stunt, but would fulfill an actual purpose... if only we would wait a while. Turns out, the secret was a locking mechanism found on the travel humidor. The gear is pulled off the cigar, and placed within a circular depression on the lock. Once in place, the gear spokes capture small studs within the lock. A twist of the ring engages and rotates the studs and voila! The box is now locked. Each travel humidor ships UNlocked--should you not yet have the gear, you aren't locked out of your box.
Overall, a great little travel humidor. Add a couple inches to it and it would be perfect--but for a majority of average to small sized cigars, this petite humidor will be fine. The construction is tight, the aesthetic fully in sync with the rest of Foundry's artistic vision. Use it as a keepsake box with or without the gear--or just an interesting conversation piece, a part of Foundry's unusual and innovative packaging for their fascinating cigars. I give it an 8 out of 10, points lost for the small, square size that simply can't accommodate a longer smoke. The incredibly stupid sticker I can't blame on the designers--no points lost for redundant gov't warnings.
Before I begin! I have grabbed photos from all kinds of sites. Mostly from Foundry itself--but maybe also yours--all of yours. I'm using them to clarity and explain, not trying to steal your creative thunder, BOTLs. I've also got a list of links to any and all sites that helped me put this list together at the end of the post. Some of the early images here appear to be production art, and don't quite match what has been produced for shops. I'm also in the process of adding my own pictures as I find the cigars. Enjoy!
** if anyone can point me toward all the Plutoniums, both Tis and the Europium--please do. I can't buy boxes, but I can do small packs, singles or great trades. **
Award for Most Difficult to Track Down Cigars goes to....
General Cigar Co./Foundry Tobacco Co!
Foundry's website finally updated their site with all the pertinent information, but it was woefully limited for the longest time, which left me super confused about the order/structure of their new (2013)releases.
War of Currents debuts as the umbrella conceit under which two main categories reside: Laboratories and Inventions. Both Laboratories & Inventions share the same tobacco blend, but have many different vitolas. Laboratories, the core line, has two vitolas & will remain in production. These Laboratory cigars come with a metal band fitted with a white fuse, an homage to the power grid:
Another fun feature that the two Laboratories boxes share, is that while each sports the main Foundry logo, the adjoining lines vary: DC sports a solid ray, AC sports a wavy ray:
Inventions, a limited, small-batch release, has four vitolas, and no metal bands. When the Inventions sell out, they ain't coming back. Additionally, each of the six cigar boxes have unique designs, with the small-batch Inventions sporting more unique and entertaining boxes.
Laboratories (main line) Inventions (small-batch, limited)
2 box designs: 4 box designs:
W.Orange ~ T. Edison ~DC Auburn & Menlo ~ T. Edision ~ DC
Shoreham ~ N. Tesla ~ AC Belgrade & Madison ~ N. Tesla ~ AC
And what is the War of Currents? In Foundry's artistic release, it is the intellectual battle over the transmission of electricity that took place during the 1880's between Thomas Edison's Direct Current (DC) and Nikola Tesla's competing Alternate Current (AC). Both inventors favored their version over the other--and it promoted lively competition between the two.
Foundry Cigars has picked three cigar boxes for each competing current.
1. Laboratories: W. Orange ~ 5.5x50
2. Inventions: Auburn ~ The Electric Chair 6x60 Perfecto with Tickler head
3. Inventions: Menlo ~ The Phonograph 5x60
18 cigars, 16 are small-batch, limited releases & will be retired when they sell through. Carbon & Uranium will remain in production, joining the two Laboratory cigars as part of Foundry's core line.
1. Argon ~ 5.5x50
2. Carbon ~ 5.5x60 - Core Line
3. Europium ~ 7x60
4. Gold ~ 5.5x55
*H2O ~ 5x50 (3 different blends, same vitola)
5. - H
6. - 2
7. - O
8. Helium ~ 6.75x54
9. Hydrogen ~ 6.5x56
*Plutonium ~ 5x50 (4 different blends, same vitola)
10. - yellow
11. - green
12. - white
13. - orange
*Titanium ~ (2 different vitola, same blend)
14. - 5.5x46
15. - 6x52
16. Uranium ~ 7x70 - Core Line
17. Vanadium ~ 6.125x54
18. Xenon ~ 6.25x54
Blend Origins: Honduran, Nicaraguan, and Brazilian tobaccos. Argon sports a black and copper label, and features a slide top, rough wood box. Argon is packaged in boxes of 25.
Argon is a noble gas that is found in the Earth's atmosphere.
Blend Origins: Nicaragua, Lower 48. Packaging features a frosted, translucent Plexiglas wall. The atomic radius of Carbon is 77, Carbon is packaged in boxes of 77. Perhaps this is why?
Foundry's Creative Director Michael Giannini said that he enjoys wearing diamonds: thus one more reason to put diamonds on the box.
Carbon is the 6th most abundant element in our Universe. Diamond is one of three naturally occurring Carbon allotrope, the other two being Amorphous and Graphite.
Blend Origins: Dominican Republic with undisclosed "mysterioso" fillers. Rough-cut wooden box styled after vintage steamer trunk, with an oval-shaped sticker of a merman. Why a merman? According to Michael Giannini, the Creative Director at General Cigar, Co., he apparently felt that Europium sounded like "a trip to Europe." And he imagined a merman, complete with trident, who got tired of all the swimming and was taking a vacation on a ghost ship. There you have it. Coincidentally (?), some research involving Europium has been conducted at the USDA-Agricultural Research Service, located on 600 E. Mermaid Lane. Box of 20.
Europium is a rare earth element.
Blend Origins: Dominican Republic, Ecuador, US.
The cigar wrapper is 'golden' in color. Packaged in a rustic, recycled pine wood box with an image gold-miner printed directly on the wooden lid. Box of 25.
Blend origins: Costa Rica, "mysterioso" fillers.
There are 3 different cigar blends in this offering to represent the three different elements comprising the H2O compound. The box is divided into 3 sections, each one housing either the "H," "2," or "O" blend. Each section has 12 cigars, for a total of 36 in the box. Creative Director Giannini said he hopes that people try all three blends, and then debate them with one another. Sounds fun to me!
A translucent Plexiglas lid, shaped like a safety razor sits atop a recessed ledge. Printed on the Plexi is what looks to me like an old-fashioned typewriter typeguide section. The H2O logo looks like round typewriter keys. 36 cigars in total.
H2O is the most abundant compound on the Earth's surface. It can exist in liquid, solid and gaseous sates.
Blend Origins: Honduras, Nicaragua, Mysterioso
A straight-forward cigar presentation: all one vitola, regular hinged cigar box--though it is covered with burlap, which is a little sloppy--wrinkly burlap and some glue staining the wood. Oddly, it's the Helium cigar box that has the exploding zepplin, rather than the Hydrogen one. Airships can run on either helium or hydrogen--but it was the hydrogen-filled Hindenburg that exploded so horrifyingly. Oh, the humanity! When I think Helium, I don't think 'sploding airships, I think sucking on balloons... 20 cigars per box.
Michael Giannini said he knows that Hydrogen won't blow up, but that in his world "Cuz I'm a guy who likes stuff that blows up, I like to see an old airship blow up. And that's Helium to me." I like this crazy man.
Helium heads the noble gas group in the periodic table, is colorless, odorless, tasteless, non-toxic, inert & monatomic.
Blend Origins: Nicaragua, Ecuador, Mysterioso
I'm not sure about this, but it's possible that Foundry's hydrogen gremlin is a playful reminder of the 1972 Hydrogen Car competition at UCLA? The cigar itself widens at the foot--similar to old car.
The UCLA Hydrogen Car Project evolved from a note Frank Lynch (UCLA '72) put on a bulletin board in 1970 to the effect that students interested in developing a hydrogen fueled car to enter the Urban Vehicle Design Competition should contact him. Lynch then asked professor Albert Bush to be the faculty sponsor and the project took off. General Motors donated a 1972 Gremlin and Ford Motor Company a "Boss" 351 cubic inch engine. The students modified the engine to run on hydrogen and installed a tank to hold the hydrogen in the rear of the car. Since the exhaust of a hydrogen powered vehicle is steam, the students had no problem taking first place in the competition for lowest emissions. ~ engineer.ucla.edu
UPDATE: NOPE, totally wrong about above. According to Michael Giannini, the inspiration for this was an old Twilight Zone episode with William Shatner who "was scared to fly, and he saw a gremlin on the plane wing? That's my gremlin. And it's an H2...it's a gremlin with an H2 bomb." Additionally, he described the cigar as "a beautiful bell-shaped cigar." Nice.
The hydrogen cigar box itself has an image of a gremlin creature holding a small bomb--same graphic as that found on the cigar band. Comes packed with 20 cigars.
Hydrogen is the most abundant element in the Universe. It is also the lightest element on the Periodic Table.
The pre-production art package was amazing--four cigar boxes placed together to look like a bundle of dynamite--complete with fuse and scorch marks. Such a cool idea. But it seems that what was realized was a scaled down (think cheaper and easier to make) version that lacks the flair and fun-factor. Still has the cool black rubber bicycle intertube that sort of rubber-bands the boxes together. It's a nice presentation--just disappointed to see what might have been.
"Plutonium to me was, Wiley Coyote and the Road Runner. And it's a stick of dynamite." ~ Giannini
The four boxes contain either green, yellow, orange or white-label cigars, and each color is a different, undisclosed blend. Each box contains 25 cigars, for a grand total of 100 if you buy the bundle.
Plutonium is a radioactive rare earth element and is used as an explosive in nuclear weapons, which explains the bomb box.
I'm hoping I can find some of these in B&Ms because online info & images are scarce. I'm in a pretty terrible spot for cigars, though, so I'm not hopeful about my chances of tracking the B&M offerings down.
The Titanium cigar edition is comprised of two differently-sized cigars of the same blend--in the same box. Each size will smoke differently. Giannini wanted smokers to experience how, without altering the blend, the vitola can effect the smoke. The box picutred above is Pre-Production art, so I'm not sure what the actualized box-top looks like. I'm guessing similar, as this box seems pretty conventional. Looks like a smooth wooden box with a metal or metal-effect lid--that may be recessed, similar to how the H2O set was constructed. Nice looking box. The symbol on top may be stamped? And obviously the released box is different from pre-pro: it's thin and rectangular. I have no clue why it's called "Diablo Tail?" Possible funky biblical reference? The first time Satan appears in the bible is Numbers 22:22--and Titanium's atomic # is 22--so maybe a play on that? Or some bizarre inspiration from the Diablo video game? 20 cigars per box, 10 each of two sizes.
UPDATE: so here's what the Diablo Tail means, to Michael Giannini: "In may factory, the folks there don't really like devils...so I originally had a devil design on this, so in a way to kind of get them un-superstitious, I created the Diablo Parte, the Devil's Tail."
Titanium is the 9th most abundant element in the earth's crust.
Dis a rrrrrrl big cigar. Personally not a fan of large ring cigars, but there are lots of fans of them out there, and I'm sure this'll big a fun smoke for them. Uranium is part of the core line, one of only two of the Compounds, Elements and Musings that will continue to be produced. Did I mention how big it is? 'Cause it is. 18 cigars per box.
According to Michael Giannini, he travels so much, and has to be x-rayed so many times by TSA agents, that the irradiated skeleton flipping the bird is his "salute to the world." Love it.
Uranium is a silvery-white chemical element that is slightly radioactive.
Blend Origins: Nicaragua, Brazil and Mexico, H-47 Pleno Sol
Box is shaped like a V that also corresponds to vanadiums's V element symbol. Giannini said that the "V" shape is in honor of General Cigar’s director of public relations Victoria McKee Jaworski. Great packaging. 20 cigar per box of awesomeness.
Vanadium is a It is a hard, silvery gray, ductile and malleable transition metal.
Another rough wooden box with ink printed directly onto it. Image of a flying saucer on the box top and the cigar band--inspired by the 50's Flash Gordon. A straight-forward box with lift-off lid. First box image is Pre-Production art, you can see the actualized boxes are more shallow, and element sticker is in diferent exterior location. Box of 20 cigars.
Excellent websites were referenced for this post: from sales to reviews, these sites have tremendous information, great opinions and reviews, and in some cases, sales.
According to Michael Giannini, Creative Director for General Cigars, his new company Foundry is all about "bold innovation." The initial release, I think, was pretty mixed. I mean, I am a huge fan of the crazy packaging--because as an artist, that sort of beautiful mania really appeals to me. But the blend itself (4-country, 5 tobacco blend--undisclosed) was met with lukewarm to good reviews. Many people felt the concept was gimmicky. The 'concept' in this case, was a re-imagined retro-Victorian meets Steampunk cigar foundry. This was evident in both box and label design--& each cigar shipped with a small metal 'gear' that surrounded the cigar band. Additinally, the four blend don't use conventional tobaccos--which gives them a unique and unexpected flavor.
Bring on the gimmicky with me, you'll never disappoint, but I understand where the scepticism and distaste stemmed from.
The original four releases: Cayley, Lovelace, Talbot and Wells are all named for innovators of the Victorian Era . Each cigar had an 8 to 10 year old Connecticut wrapper (H47 Pleno Sol), made exclusively for Foundry, and the fillers and binders have no Dominican, Nicaraguan, Honduran or Mexican in them.
Cayley: The Sailfish/The Rocket Bomb 6.5x60x56x43 Figurado with cut foot
Lovelace: The Computer Programmer 6.25x54
Ada Lovelace (12/10/1815 – 11/27/1852) was an English mathematician and writer chiefly known for her work on an early mechanical general-purpose computer, the Anylytical Engine. Her notes on the engine include what is recognised as the first algorithm intended to be carried out by a machine. Because of this, she is often described as the world's first computer programmer.
Talbot: The Beautiful Impression 5x60
William Henry Fox Talbot (2/11/1800 –9/17/1877) was a British inventor and photography pioneer who invented the calotype process, a precursor to photographic processes of the 19th and 20th centuries. Talbot was also a noted photographer who made major contributions to the development of photography as an artistic medium.
Wells: The Time Machine 6x50
Herbert George "H. G." Wells (9/21/1866 – 8/13/1946) was an English writer, now best known for his work in the science fiction genre. He was also a prolific writer in many other genres, including contemporary novels, history, politics and social commentary, even writing textbooks and rules for war games. Wells is sometimes called "The Father of Science Fiction"
With the 2013/2014 releases of Foundry's expanded line: "War of Currents" and "Elements, Compounds and Musings," the original four are old news, very well and thoroughly reviewed. But one intriguing item that there's been scarce information about is Foundry's humidor--an item that was supposed to make use of the unique metal gears that came with every (original) Foundry cigar. It was a really cool idea--shipping each cigar with a sort of metal decoder ring--that could eventually be used to 'unlock a secret item.
The secret item was revealed as the humidor, with a locking mechanism that can only be released using the Foundry Gears. Creative Director Michael Giannini said that the humidor, once opened, could also be imagined as a "Victorian Era tool chest." Now, in point of fact, the humidor is small--far too small for tools--too small for some cigars even. But, the idea is great, the humidor is quite fun.
Beautiful ashtrays, you say? How can something that smelly be beautiful? Well, just because it's going to be a receptacle for ash, doesn't mean it should be ugly. In fact, it really shouldn't. It should be as lovely as possible to enhance the overall experience. Just sayin.'
I will also happily admit to my personal bias in terms of not only aesthetics, but also function--and an absence of 'clutter.' By clutter, I usually mean, visual clutter--so you won't find any ashtrays here that have built in holders for matches, cutters or other accoutrement. Those vintage ashtrays that have a receptacle for ash, but also have attached storage with lids? What the hell. I think about how awkward that would be to clean--without having to displace all yo' shit you got stored in there too. Some of the designs of these are good, but the function is low. So, no.
I love old advertising, hotel & casino ashtrays--but these are more period/kitschy & not necessarily 'beautiful'--which is in the eye of each beholder.
I generally abhor a logo or branded item--generally--however there are some crest-of-arms logos that I find visually pleasing.
I have a bit of 'a thing' for mid-century, which usually means modern furniture, but can include very funky ceramics. So you were warned.
Although there are any number of amazing Americana-inspired ashtrays out there, I cannot see dumping ash on either our beautifully designed flag & its rich history, nor can I obscure the majestic eagle. Sorry gang, that's just another odd quirk--among many, many odd quirks.
The size I grew up with the smaller of the two. My dad had three or four of these scattered about the house. I used to try to balance the bowl, upright--and I still vividly recall the sound that bowl would make as I let go, and it slowly flipped downward with gravity, and rocked back and forth until it settled into true.
A simple twist of the stem, flips the bowl over within the main body--and anything in the bowl dumps into the bottom of the container. Hides mess, covers smell, looks tidy. Amazing.
I will always and forever link that sound and this design directly to my father. Even though I don't smoke, I have one of these originals in my home & it will be on of the last items I would ever part with.
However attractive the design is--it doesn't have a rest for one's cigarette. Frankly, I don't know a lot of cigarette smokers who put them down, but I do know that having a rest for a cigar is critical. Enter Marianne Brandt, active with the Bauhaus gang & like Arne Jacobsen (who followed later), she produced some iconic 20th Century designs.
Here is her 1924 version, predating Arne's. Provides a rest for one's smokes:
Rather than flipping one's ash over, this tray tilts upward & allows the ash to slide down into the container. The bowl doesn't provide much relief for the tip of one's cigar to rest over the ash, but with enough dumping that wouldn't be an issue. MOMA owns this original.
Which brings me to another one of Brandt's Bauhaus designs:
Just beautifully designed. The shape and construction are just perfect. Though this is a static ashtray, it has a deep, elegant bowl and provides a sturdy rest for one's smoke. Ugh. Want.
Which brings me to my next personal foible. I dislike any ashtray that's primarily to be used for cigars, that doesn't provide a decent rest for the stogie. I think it's really important to give that smoke some relief and allow air to move around it. Deep, flat-sided 'trays that don't have a notch to set the cigar securely in? I imagine the cigar rolling off, or into, the ashtray. I want an anchor for it. And my personal preference is for that rest to be raised, as opposed to a trough cut into the 'tray. I know long troughs are popular, often attractive and get the job done. But I think about the business end of that cigar, the one that goes in your mouth sitting in that trough...and just ew.
So, in other words, you're not going to see many, if any, of that style here--and my personal preference is for a slightly longer rest, instead of just a notch cut into the side of the bowl.
This simple metal ashtray is one I like a lot. Bowl is moderately deep, no incidentals included. I enjoy its solid, blocky quality & the four cigar channels. Should the ashtray get jostled, the smokes can't roll off, or into one another.
The trenches are short so as the stogie shortens, less chance of putting your soggy mouth cap on the metal. Attractive, masculine ashtray. 6" x 1.5"
Here's a second square ashtray that I wouldn't mind owning. Part leather, part metal--it cleverly combines rests for both cigarettes & cigars. Nice deep, square bowl--decent sized troughs for the smokes without being too long (Visually, I mean. I just visually can't stand those long troughs).
The bowl wont overflow with ash anytime soon, even if a few friends join you. The inner tray comes out for easy, worry-free cleaning. Love that detail--and the leather portion is in no danger of getting burned. Although this ashtray is a bit masculine for me, I'm really digging the leather/metal combo & the subtle ornamentation. 6.25" x .75"
Ceramic's not everyone's taste, but I'm a fan of this simple, rustic, crackle-glazed ashtray. The crackle is just so attractive. And the smoke rests become part of the design. Nothing overdone, and I personally, like the primitive design, with clay combed corners and the slightly blotchy glaze application.
I'm pro imperfection. As incredibly well-machined as the previous ashtrays have been, and as much as I like crisp forms, I have a soft spot for evidence of the Artist's Hand in things.
A return to clean, machined, industrial bowls. These two are very similar--the Colibri ashtray has its coat-of-arms in the basin & that inner bowl is removable for easy cleaning. The other ashtray is very similar--but slightly larger and deeper. Functionally they'd be the same. Price jump: the brand name is approx $50, whereas the non-logo ashtray is $20 dollars less. I like the looks of both: still very strong designs, very male, yet slightly softer since the forms are round. Like, literally, that's all it takes to soften the impact & figuratively too. Colibri - 7.75" x 1.50"h, plain: 8" x 2"
Here's just a fun, odd ashtray--with the Mack Truck dog front and center. It's funky and fun, industrial and dog-friendly. Also has a little piece of Americana on it: that canine. Appealing design doesn't have to be stuffy or high-brow, nor will everyone agree on "good" design. The Mack ashtray falls into many folks' kitschy zone. But for me, it's cool and oddly attractive--perhaps setting is everything? In my home it would look retro. In my grandfather's garage it would be mechanic-oriented and humorous. Either way, I'd always like it. And I'm sure a bunch of my designer friends would just shake their heads in horror/wonder. 7.5" x 1.5"
Heidi McLain, I love your photos! I love that tree reflected in the polished chrome. Beautiful!
MORE to come ...
So...after a brief hiatus in which life kicked like a mule, we're back with MORE finally.
Continuing the theme of canines (I guess) I have to give a really quick shout out to the masculine combination of men and their dogs...and smoking. Edwin Megargee's lovely illustrative dog portraits make an appearance on the ashtray below. Just love this little painting. And somehow dogs, hunting, smoking all rolls into one big thing.
I think the design is simple, and while certainly a dated, for what it is, this is a pretty terrific example of the sort of thing your grandpa might have had in his den--and the kind of thing in later years you'd be delighted to use as catchall or coin valet. Nostalgic.
Actually, I just realized that I might have an issue. I've suddenly realized that I could easily collect just ashtrays with images of dogs on them. Why? WHY?
And speaking of oddly dated and appealing, just about any of these organic/kidney-ish ashtrays by Sascha Brastoff are a hit with me. I mean, maybe this is the first sign of a brain tumor? But I do really find myself drawn to the innocent sketches Brastoff is known for. His Eskimo and igloos, little towns and kind of Asian-esque inspired designs are pretty delightful. I feel with ashtrays, you can go either ultra modern, or throw-back--and both are legit.
There are huge numbers of glass and crystal ashtrays--and I tend to go for smoother, more modern versions. I have found some astoundingly lovely cut crystal ashtrays--but I trend toward clean lines and simple forms. This Viking Glass ashtray's a perfect example. It has funky personality due to the irregular shape and pale violet color--but is designed for function.
Finally, a couple example of some visually striking ashtrays. I just love the hell out of both of these. Now, I can only afford one, the first one called The Deck. This is also available as an oval and in a couple different wood finished. The unique thing about The Deck is that the cigar holder is a free-standing "X" shaped item, magnetised to the base. So the stand can be dropped anywhere on the 'deck' and it will be secure due to the magnets. So cool!
The second ashtray has a magnificent bone/horn inlay--and it is priced right out of my world. But what I like about both these items, is that they combine old materials with a sleek shape and a modern, tasteful look. Both have an eye toward function. Both look sturdy, professional, indulgent and stylish.
I have a large-capacity antique humidor, seasoned well--but I live in a very humid environment & keeping aging cigars at relatively steady humidity is tricky. I found I was overly fussy with my cigars, not trusting the humidification system I had to do the job.
So I bought a bag of 65% humidity beads from Heartfelt, poured them into three old .22 ammo boxes I had--and away we go! I chose to use the old .22 boxes for both function and aesthetics. First, they're clear, slender and rectangular; they easily fit into the humidor without taking up valuable real estate from the cigars. Second, the plastic grill that fits across the top of the box (the area that the small bullets usually set into) provides plenty of air/humidity to pass through. Finally, the clear sides and tops make it very easy to check whether the beads need a light misting of purified water. And if the beads are a little too dry, easy to mist the top of the box, the water passes/drips through & voila! Easily-maintained humidity.
My set up is the following: I have two hydrated trays of beads on the bottom level of my humidor, and on the top shelf, I have a tray of un-hydrated beads. I feel this lets the humidity & beads sort of breathe--if the base beads are a little too wet--the top rack helps absorb the excess. So far, and it's been a couple months, this structure is working very well. I never worry about over humidification due to that top tray of dry beads, and thus far, the humidity levels within the humidor have been very stable.