Tsuge Ikebana: Smooth Bent Billiard (Fukuda) (L) (084) (2021) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-623-4653

Tsuge's Ikebana series is crafted in a small workshop by three individual artisans, each of whom represent some of Japan's foremost talent in pipe carving. Headed for decades by Sixten Ivarsson-trained Kazuhiro Fukuda, the Ikebana name directly translates to English as "living flowers," earning their work the title of "the flowers of the pipe world" and, when one sees their work, it's not hard to see why. As a student of Sixten's, finding Danish influence in Fukuda's work isn't exactly difficult, and that's certainly the case with this bent Billiard, whose soft curves and easy fluidity hint at his roots in the artisan pipe making movement.

There's something wonderfully harmonious about this pipe's balanced construction, as, yes, the shank-and-stem combination is rather slender and smartly upturned while the bowl is hearty, but it strikes me as not a simple matter of visual weight, but something more ephemeral. There's something about the way that the bowl's subtle forward urge and understated curves interact with the shank and stem's travel, something about the way that the stem is made that gives it both the continuous flow of a taper and the firmness of a saddle that leaves me gazing longingly at this piece for extended periods. This stem has the additional benefit of lending the pipe a consistent undercurve throughout and enhancing every supple contour of its shaping wonderfully. The arc of the shank and stem together lend a comfortable smoking posture and a graceful stance, and the wide transition from which they ebb leaves plenty of room to drape a thumb.

At the bowl we see a palpable robustness take hold, with tall, thick, insulating walls sat atop a lifted heel, pushing it into prominence. These walls travel upward in a soft arc, tapering slightly as they reach toward the rim in an almost Brandy-like fashion, though with less definition than we'd expect from that shape. The rim itself is extremely lightly inflated, just enough to keep things soft, and slopes into the chamber a bit for easy loading of tobacco, all of the curves of this pipe combining to create a shape that is extremely difficult to keep your eyes away from. A warm auburn-walnut contrast stain dresses the stummel of this piece, revealing tight striations of flickering flame grain wrapping the bowl while the underside is awash with birdseye, and some handsome contrast is offered by an elegant silver inlay in the stem's base.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.51 in./139.95 mm.
  • Weight: 2.85 oz./80.74 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.20 in./55.88 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.81 in./45.97 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.79 in./20.07 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.86 in./47.24 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Bent Billiard
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Japan
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