Adam Davidson: Leather Calabash with Boxwood and Gold Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-437-0172

Pipe makers from the United States have pushed the boundaries of pipe making by developing new techniques, incorporating new design elements, and utilizing new materials, and our annual American Pipe-Making Exposition celebrates this innovation and creativity. The theme for 2023's Expo focused on alternative mediums, challenging our participants to crafts pipes from materials other than briar. This Calabash is Adam Davidson's submission.

Those familiar with past years' Expositions know that Adam approaches them as an haute couture design house would approach a fashion show: Not only are the craftsmanship and quality of his submissions superb, but his creativity and envelope-pushing design outlook are breathtaking. The Expo is an opportunity for him to chase risky, experimental ideas of high risk and high reward, and this submission is no different.

Leather-wrapped pipes are not new in pipe making; many brands, especially during WWII, wrapped pipes in leather as a means of using briar that didn't showcase particularly eye-catching grain. Briar was in short supply, so manufacturers needed to use any block possible, even those without high aesthetic appeal. The style has been honored in the decades since for its unique visuals, and externally, this fully functional Calabash by Adam resembles one such leather-wrapped piece. However, this pipe is entirely crafted from leather; there is no briar underneath.

To render such an innovative pipe, Adam first crafted a mahogany template of the overall shape, which he cut in half. Over each half he stretched, stapled, and nailed water-soaked leather of armor-grade thickness and then baked it to harden into the Calabash shape. Next, he carefully cut and trimmed the leather halves and lined the inside of each with instrument-grade cork sheets before affixing the two halves together with 14K gold wire, hand-drilling each hole and crimping each section of gold individually by hand.

Boxwood adornments continue the alternative-mediums motif, with a chamber cap and a shank mount carved from boxwood that Adam procured from Nanna Ivarsson. The cap is pressure-fitted to the leather bowl via an O-ring of boxwood lined with cork along the top of the open leather stummel. This same pressure-fitted taper is employed for the stem, which fits into the boxwood accent like a military mount. A stunning feat of craftsmanship, this pipe further advances Adam's renown as a world-class artisan, utilizing complex and time-consuming techniques, and it also marks the first Calabash pipe he's ever made.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 7.48 in./189.99 mm.
  • Weight: 5.02 oz./142.43 g.
  • Bowl Height: 3.64 in./92.46 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.20 in./30.48 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.79 in./20.07 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 2.67 in./67.82 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Calabash
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Other
  • Country: United States