Ray Kurusu: Smooth Long Shank Acorn with Boxwood Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-637-0034

Reiichi "Ray" Kurusu was born in Osaka, Japan in 1977 and spent the vast majority of his life paying no heed to the world of pipes, traveling abroad, pursuing music, and even working at a tattoo shop. This changed in 2011, when, on a whim, Kurusu went to the Tokyo Pipe Fest and met a man by the name of Hiroyuki Tokutomi, a man with whose work Ray became nearly obsessed, asking him immediately to be apprenticed under him. Tokutomi agreed, and by the end of Ray's first session he already was considering pipe making as a serious career direction, and since then his visits to the legendary artisan have been innumerable, Kurusu endeavoring to learn all that he can from the master. After two and a half years, Kurusu had made steady progress, with a massive surge of advancement coming in the last 6 months of this time, and entered 2014's Chicago Pipe show, selling a great many of his pieces to none other than our very own Sykes Wilford. Since that point Kurusu has consistently proven and reinforced his talents, and this Acorn is the newest example of his skill, its lengthy shank and squat, stout bowl at once symmetrical and asymmetrical in this eye-catching piece.

Inspired by the likes of Jørn Micke, his own master, Tokutomi, Kei'Ichi Gotoh, and the Ivarssons, it's no wonder to see the elements of both Japanese and Danish design here. This long-shanked Acorn is a triumph of the marriage of these similar styles, merging the latter's penchant for soft, supple curvature, with the former's inherent organicism and focus on balanced composition. When I say that this pipe is both symmetrical and asymmetrical, I mean to speak of point of view, as, when viewed from the top, a straight line can be drawn from the fore of the rim to the button, leaving two even halves. The side view is a bit different. Speaking purely about physical symmetry, this pipe is obviously more bowl-centric, though to speak that way is less than fair. I'd rather speak on the weighted balance of the pipe, that's more interesting. The bowl, of course, looks to hold most of the visual weight of the pipe, that is true, but the pencil-thin length of shank and the bulbous vulcanite saddle attached to it urge the point of balance further back toward the transition, allowing the eye to wander easily over the entire profile. This point of balance also draws attention to the slightly pointed heel spur on the underside, a soft touch of briar poking out from the bowl that adds an immense amount of visual intrigue. Something about this piece gives me the image of growth, as if a beautiful flower were bursting forth from a bulb, caught in time just before blossoming. The grain present on this pipe, revealed in a warm, slightly glossy, mahogany stain, is exceptional, with wisps of flame grain curling around the flanks and a dense ocean of birdseye swirling upon the rim, the streaks of flame, at times, terminating in stretched birdseye that makes each one look as if it were a lost soul, coalescing with its brothers to make the briar feel alive.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 8.29 in./210.57 mm.
  • Weight: 2.40 oz./68.04 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.82 in./46.23 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.26 in./32.00 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.77 in./19.56 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 2.03 in./51.56 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Acorn/Pear
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Japan
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