The field of artisans who can make killer use of medium/medium-large bamboo isn’t exactly hurting from overpopulation. There is a decent (and growing) sized body of carvers who skilfully employ the slender rhizomes, a few who can create wonders with the massive Buddha belly stalks, but very little presence in between. Setting aside some excellent examples that I have seen in the Ikebana pipe, what little mid-sized bamboo work I had run across seemed - well, a bit “forced”. That is, until I saw the incredible medium ferrules of Reiichi Kurusu. That medium/medium large ground still isn’t having an overcrowding crisis, but its population has at least increased by one.
There is zero sense of anything forced in this Kurusu beauty, quite the contrary, it feels as if one is looking at a study in harmony. The light, natural mottling of the three-knuckle ferrule is complemented to perfection by Ray-san’s subdued stain, and the subtle lilt of the bit is just the ticket to offset the equally gentle rise of the bowl. It’s tough enough to create that ephemeral sense of soft, unassuming organicism when working with smaller pipes – even now there are so few who can really nail it. It’s another thing, entirely, to perfect that anima in a pipe with a size that approaches a Group 6. Damned if Ray didn’t do it.
--R. ‘Bear’ Graves