Tsuge Ikebana: Smooth Acorn with Bamboo (Fukuda) (N) (209) (2016) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-623-4629

The Ikebana workshop is Tsuge's in-house artisan operation, and its ranks comprise three individual artisans, each of whom bring their own unique style to the pipes they carve. Their overall design outlook, however is one possessed of poised grace and unflinching organicism, dedicated to creating works of art that inspire silent appreciation and quiet reflection. Appropriate, as their title, Ikebana translates to "living flowers" and is the name given to the highest echelon of Japanese flower arrangement, which, too, are created to evoke these same feelings. Though this Acorn doesn't bear a maker stamp, it was made by the most experienced member of the three artisans: Kazuhiro Fukuda. It displays a soft, Danish sense of line and a gentle fluidity that reflect the man's time spent with Sixten Ivarsson, though imbued with his own understanding of Japanese carving and aesthetics.

Throughout the length of shank and stem we see this kind of ebb and flow, this refined sort of implied motion that lends the pairing a meandering organicism which brings the eye's attention toward the transition despite how large the bowl is. This organicism is, of course, magnified by the addition of a bamboo shank extension, with a full five knuckles married to the shank, starting at a trim band of vulcanite at the latter's end. It's not simply a matter of "organic material means organic feeling," though, as the natural surface of the bamboo creates a series of expansions and tapers where the knuckles breach the relatively smooth surface, with nodes growing out from many of them, adding a good deal of texture, all while the length curves upward. Additionally, the expansion doesn't just take place at the knuckles, but in between, as the closer it comes to the stem, the thicker the piece gets. When working with natural material, there are certain aspects that remain unchangeable, many of which are difficult to work around or work with, such as a curve to the left or right in a length of bamboo, as is present here. Fukuda has done a stellar job in subtly drifting the stem over just a touch to make up for this, one of the hallmarks of an experienced artisan, in addition to the continuation of an indentation in the dense grass that he follows through on the stem's left flank.

The bowl here is a wonderful rendition of the classic Acorn, with a firm, pointed heel that is rounded at its apex, building into the walls of the bowl with a gradual flare which favors the fore just a touch more than the aft. Throughout this flare, there is a further rounding of form, one that really takes hold near the rim, though not quite at its taper, more so oriented near the beginning of the upper third, with an increase in the curvature toward the rim. An understated detail such as this really aids in reinforcing the naturalistic elements of this pipe, and demonstrates the control which Fukuda has over his line work quite well, with the added benefit of making this piece a dream to hold. Dressing the briar here is a warm mahogany stain that reveals some incredible flame and straight grain throughout the bowl's circumference, as well as a sea of birdseye across the broad rim.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 7.55 in./191.77 mm.
  • Weight: 1.90 oz./53.86 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.86 in./47.24 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.44 in./36.58 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.76 in./19.30 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.78 in./45.21 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Acorn/Pear
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Japan
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