Kurt Balleby: Smooth Blowfish with Horn (1722) Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-294-0114

Kurt Balleby began carving pipes in 1983, working with Kai Nielsen and Preben Holm who honed his skills until 1989, when he bought equipment for himself, starting a workshop of his own in the basement of his home. Becoming an artisan in his own right, Balleby developed a shaping style that centers around classic profiles rendered with a distinct Danish sensibility, ensuring quality through a rigorous 150-step production process for each pipe he crafts. This Blowfish is one of the few examples of the shape that we've received from Balleby thus far, and it's certainly the most dramatically stylized of the bunch as well.

Much of these dramatics come by way of the bowl's faceting, for the Blowfish that we most commonly encounter is defined by its pair of asymmetrical panels which frame the bowl. Though there may be a touch more stylistic exaggeration to be found in the Fugu, the more organically-inclined version of the Blowfish, this is still a marked departure from what is often seen of the shape: the faces of its panels pushing out strikingly far from a carved channel that immediately follows the defining ridgeline of each. This not only lends the bowl and stummel an incredibly unique shaping, but it works to add extra definition to the ridge, as the channel allows it to pop out from the briar. The stylistic opposition of the extremely rounded internal bulge surrounded by this sharply defined firmness is eminently eye-catching, drawing one's gaze to the bowl almost immediately, though this pair of ridges holds yet another trait adding to this pipe's uniqueness. Both are possessed of a slight undulating pattern, something that's especially prevalent on the left flank and which contributes to the panels' asymmetricality well.

The rest of the shape is comparatively standard, with a wide transition and low-lying shank that marks the start of a pair of ridgelines that curve around the midsection of the bowl and meet, neither one extending all the way through the shank to its end. Said shank does feature a bit of taper as it reaches out to the aft, however, and it meets a lengthy fitment of horn which then flares out to a broad face, utilizing a reinforced push-style mount to marry the stummel to a trim, demurely curved stem of black vulcanite. A rich, vibrant stain of ruby-auburn hues dresses the stummel here, revealing dense oceans of birdseye on either flank of the bowl while cross grain is illuminated through the middle, the horn mount offering a wealth of contrast to the palette.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.24 in./133.10 mm.
  • Weight: 1.60 oz./45.36 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.88 in./47.75 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.62 in./41.15 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.76 in./19.30 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.79 in./45.47 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Blowfish
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Denmark
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