Kurt Balleby: Sandblasted Acorn with Ivorite Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-294-0100

Kurt Balleby has been crafting pipes for nearly forty years, having started in 1983 under the tutelage of Kai Nielsen, and produces a low annual output with a focus on quality over quantity. His portfolio is proudly Danish, with a broad range of designs ranging from artisan interpretations of classic shapes to exquisite sculptural creations. The Acorn, however, is a shape we don't see very often from him, and this particular example resembles a smooth version we received in 2020. That makes this sandblasted rendition a rarity, to say the least, and rendered with a precision that bespeaks decades of artisan craftsmanship.

A compact length just over five inches lets the bowl take the visual weight of the composition, but gently so, with plump rounding that provides a great presence in hand. The bowl perches neatly at the end of an expanding shank, yielding a hint of cheeking at the transition and a sense of implied, fluid, momentum. From the front of the rim, one continuous curve forms the fore and heel, gliding through the shank before the stems downward recurve.

I appreciate mirrored details in different pipe components, and here I see the rule of threes in the way the roundly chamfered rim is the inverse curvature of the flare seen in the Ivorite accent and stem expansion ring. These things don't happen by accident, and almost never this perfectly even on purpose. Every line and nuance is intentionally placed here, creating negative space above the transition that whispers an invitation to drape a digit. The stem's downturn juxtaposes the shank's upcurve just so, and even the stem's fishtail starts with a curve that is the stummel's transition in transverse; it's a triumph of discretion and natural beauty.

With all of that attention to detail evident, it should come as no surprise that Kurt shaped according to the grain, in fact I imagine this pipe became an Acorn because that was what he saw in the briar. An ink-black stain dresses rippling growth rings that climb the bowl, easing into blasted birdseye on the upper curvature, while a two-tone contrast makes the grain pop on the smooth rim and shank end. The handcrafted vulcanite saddle stem nestles neatly into an Ivorite accent that is slightly oval in shape, completing the organic nature of the pipe with aplomb. If you are one of the many discerning collectors who appreciate Kurt's exemplary work and are in the market for an Acorn, don't let this superlative example slip through your fingers.

- Joel Balyeat
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.09 in./129.29 mm.
  • Weight: 1.68 oz./47.63 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.78 in./45.21 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.40 in./35.56 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.80 in./20.32 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.80 in./45.72 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Acorn/Pear
  • Finish: Sandblast
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Denmark
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