Where There's Smoke There's Fire
Stringing is an art form. Every knot matters and every material choice impacts the performance of the final product. One look around Instagram and you will see stringers from all over the world showcasing their work. The stringing community is a beautiful thing filled with wildly creative and passionate people dedicated to the craft.
Building the perfect pocket takes a unique skillset and a strong understanding of how a ball interacts with strings during real game play. A properly strung stick gives players a real security that allows them to forget about the stick completely and it just becomes an extension of their bodies. The perfect pocket is the one that gets forgotten and allows the player to simply focus on playing.
The best stringers in the world are hybrids that blend an engineering mind with an artistic one. They’re understanding of tension, knot placement and materials allows them to manipulate a pocket to perform consistently and immediately. They also have an eye for color and gift for celebrating the little details of the process.
We are very active in the stringing community and constantly looking for the world’s best. It was this search that led us up north to the Mohawk Nation at Akwesasne.
Our friend Taylor Smoke @smokinstringz has been turning out some of the best traditionally strung sticks we’ve ever seen. It is such an honor to see his artistry inside one of our heads and we thank him for all of the work he has done for us over the years. His incredible attention to detail and consistency is absolutely unmatched. Whenever we get a batch of sticks sent back to us from Smoke we open them up in amazement.
Now we know that mesh is certainly the more popular choice for your modern day lacrosse player but traditionals are just more beautiful, requires more skill and when they are done right are hard to beat. A great traditional is closer to the roots of the game and therefore a more authentic option. More string generally means more upkeep and more variability. But those that commit to using a traditionally strung stick embrace that idea.
Some people go to Bass Pro Shop to buy a $50 lure made of carbon fiber to catch a fish. Others prefer tying their own flies and find a purer satisfaction by this self reliance and hand made experience. Neither are wrong and both can be effective, it just comes down to your preference and what you are trying to get out of it. The same is true in the case of mesh vs. traditional.
When we asked Taylor about what stick he's currently using he had this to say:
“I have been using the same stick on and off for over 20 Years. It's a mid 1990's Mohawk International Lacrosse Wooden Stick that I got when I was 5 Years Old. I recently changed my pocket in it to reflect how far I've come over the years with my traditional stringing. When I first strung a lacrosse stick, I cut out a perfect pocket right from the factory traditional and I replaced it with a piece of mesh I got from a tournament. When my father saw, he cut out the mesh and took me back to the factory to put a new traditional leather pocket in it. That's when my love for stringing started.”
Taylor has a real gift and a history much deeper than most. Stringing sticks means more to him than just simply tying strings to catch and throw a ball. Stringing the traditional style is part of who is and part of his family tradition.
“Being Kanienkehaka (or Mohawk as the french would say) this has always been more than a game for me. There are so many teachings and ways to live life from this game. I wanted to learn how to string lacrosse sticks to be able to pass down a tradition that has been with our people long before the first settlers arrived on Turtle Island. Stringing traditional leather pockets into wooden lacrosse sticks used in ceremonial medicine games.”
The Earth Stick Collection is an extremely small run of complete sticks (8 to be exact) that pulls together some hand crafted artisan elements to create a one-of-a-kind set up. We are well aware of this games connection to nature and wanted a stick that could represent that in a cool way. The natural leathers and white nylon work inside the bone head seems to really ride that line between the past and the future. We flipped a green Switchback 23 and engraved each one with a number that matches the full grain leather hang tag.
We encourage you all to give Taylor a follow on instagram and get to know some of the work of one of our favorite traditional stick stringer @smokinstringz. And to rest of the stringing community we love you and appreciate all that you do to keep the creativity and craft alive! We have some really fun collaborations in the works and will be rolling them out all summer and beyond.