Wojciech Paciorek, Support Engineer on Pipe Restoration

Hi, my name is Wojciech Paciorek, and I am an Application Support Specialist for a financial service company in Dublin. Technology is in my DNA – my family has always been linked with either medicine or IT work. When I was younger, I tried rebelling against my family by learning something completely different: political science. However, I was still working with IT and coding on a daily basis. I decided to give tech work a shot, just for six months at first. However, five years later… here I am getting more and more involved in Application Support and other tech-related positions.

I was born in Tarnów, Poland – a small city in the southern part of the country. I moved to Dublin in 2015 to develop my tech skills related to my current role. I enjoy living in Dublin now; my neighbours, the humour, and even the weather have made me feel comfortable here.

Outside of my day-to-day work, I love restoring old or damaged pipes. My father was the one who inspired me. He used to say, “there is no way you can be angry and smoke a pipe at the same time!” I fell in love with the smell of his recently opened pipe tobacco. It made me feel secure – my dad was here! So that introduced me to pipes. As for restoration, I believe we live in a disposable society that prefers to buy new things instead of fixing them. I fight that attitude as much as I can – even when I consider clothes, shoes, electronics, or furniture. I combined this private crusade with my childhood memories.

My interest first sparked when I walked into one of those charity shops. I spotted a pair of nasty looking old pipes in bad condition. The shop had suggested using them as firewood, nothing more. But when I took a second look, I found some signs made by the original manufacturer, as well as hallmarks on the metal rings placed on the stem. I thought it was a shame that somebody’s work was going to be wasted just because of age or poor condition due to the previous owner’s unprofessional handling. That triggered me to buy them both at a price lower than a bus ticket! I brought them home and told my wife, “I’m going to restore these to a condition that could be compared to brand new ones! Even better than that – I’m going to uncover the stories behind these old pipes.”

At the time, that was a very bold statement to make. I had no idea where to start, or what even needed to be done! I spent 3 months on each of them. These were my baby steps into restoration, without any support. After those two pipes, I went through web auctions looking for some similar ones, calling for help, and buying them for prices way lower than the average drink in a pub.

Later I spotted an article about 金継ぎ (Kintsugi) – the Japanese art of repairing broken pottery with lacquer dusted or mixed with powdered gold, silver, or platinum, a method similar to the maki-e technique. As a philosophy, it treats breakages and repairs as part of the history of an object, rather than something to disguise. I used it as the cornerstone of my interest – and began trying to incorporate that into my own life.

My hobby and tech career do not always overlap, but I am certainly more patient now than before. Another thing is that I give more chances to projects, developments, and people as a way of learning more about them. On a daily basis, I help business users with their issues. It is always related to their databases – errors, missing records, or faulty applications. This is like my pipe workshop. You need to acknowledge all the flaws, errors, or breaks to understand how to fix or resolve the problems. Users can be more or less flexible compared to my pipes – that’s a challenge I love to accept.

One day I would like to create some sort of glass display with all of my pipes completely restored, named, and placed on a timeline. Maybe one day I’ll show some of my finest projects to a professional pipe-maker to hear his opinion – just to flatter myself. Or maybe I’ll open up my own restoration workshop in my backyard.

Above: Wojciech working on his craft

I have learned three things from pipe restoration. First, if you are good at what you do, the effects of your actions and the products or items you make will live longer than you do. Secondly, give another chance to whatever or whoever, despite any imperfections or damages that come with it. That attitude will always pay you back, maybe not in cash, but with the story behind the damages. Brand new items have nothing that will make them different.

Lastly, when there is no thrill of potential failure – there is no joy. I will take all the required risk even if I know I could fail.

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