Tsuge Ikebana: Smooth Freehand (Kikuchi) (I) (025) (2022) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-623-4668

The three artisans that work out of the small Ikebana workshop in Japan are incredibly talented individuals, each given the freedom to craft shapes that are utterly their own and in styles that reflect their own sensibilities. Of the three, Asami Kikuchi is the youngest, though she honed her artistic talent for many years before joining the team and, once there, was mentored for a full year by the head of the workshop Kazuhiro Fukuda who was taught by Sixten Ivarsson and boasts over 40 years of experience. This bent Dublin from Kikuchi is quite a bit different from her other renditions of the shape, boasting a robust build throughout that is rich with fluid curves and implied momentum, all while maintaining a Danish sensibility.

I'm reminded of the workshop's appellation as "The Flowers of the Pipe World" when observing this piece, for its sweeping curves through the stummel terminate in a bowl that blossoms forth into its rim, providing a bit of a floral aesthetic to the pipe that draws the eye forward. That being said, I find the build here to be rather well balanced, as the flaring bowl is paired to a likewise flared shank that expands to an end rounded by a firm ridgeline before taking on a domed shape into which the base of the stem nestles. Said stem also takes on a flare through its base to an expansion ring, stylistically mirroring that of the shank and further cementing the aft side of this pipe as a cohesive unit. The stem itself is a smartly downturned length of black vulcanite that is poised for comfortable smoking and offers a touch of acrobatic elegance to the silhouette.

As a whole, the stummel comprises a plunging pair of curves, one through the transition and one through the underside, that lend the briar a look reminiscent of the Horn thanks to the consistent expansion that it offers the bowl. The transition's curve is extremely tightly-knit, though there's room enough to drape a digit, and is absent any sharp angles much like the rest of the pipe save for the ridges and expansion ring. The sweeping curve into the bowl sees it flare out to its own ridgeline, one which sits quavering below the rim, marking the arcing taper to its plateau crown. This slight bit of asymmetry, flare, and taper to organic texture calls to mind a flower's bulb, keeping the fore rich with detail and minutia, though with plenty of visual weight left through the aft to allow for full appreciation of the composition. Dressed in a vibrant mahogany contrast stain, this piece showcases some beautiful grain: Flickering flame grain follows the shape of the bowl wonderfully and pushes through the flanks of the shank, with the shank face, underside, and rim all peppered by swirling pinpricks of birdseye.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.53 in./140.46 mm.
  • Weight: 2.98 oz./84.37 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.26 in./57.40 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.85 in./46.99 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.87 in./22.10 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 2.03 in./51.56 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Freehand
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Japan
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