Kei-ichi Gotoh: Sandblasted Freehand (0520)

Product Number: 002-295-0085

A former artisan for the Tsuge Ikebana workshop, Kei-ichi Gotoh crafts pipes with a highly organic aesthetic and is one of the world's most highly regarded artisan pipe makers. Each Gotoh piece seems to have grown from nature, and he accomplishes this effect through a paradoxical blend of asymmetry and balance, as well as soft and hard lines. This particular Freehand is a pipe of three parts, so to speak, and is a signature of Gotoh's that the Japanese artisan has rendered in a myriad of individual, creative, and unique ways. It's also a style that's been emulated by other carvers: German pipe maker Frank Axmacher comes to mind in particular with his Koisi shape — inspired by the Japanese word for "pebble" and as an homage to the design's Japanese origins à la Gotoh.

Composed of three distinct sections, this Freehand displays gradually larger, bulbous sections through its profile located at the stem base, shank, and bowl. Each piece is similarly shaped but angled differently, adding diverse asymmetry that accentuates the form's organic aesthetic. The stem base is the most uniform of the three, slanted slightly downward to balance out the stem's bend and draw the eye forward, but it remains symmetrical when viewed from the smoker's perspective. The other two sections, however, tilt and turn in opposite direction, as if spinning on canted axes, and feature more disuniform shaping — being elongated and stretched in certain areas rather than perfectly spherical. Typically a pipe with such voluptuous curves and rounded shaping wouldn't be considered dynamic or fluid; however, Gotoh's effective balance of asymmetry and the gradual increase of size of each bulbous section effectively streamlines the design, as does the pipe's rather small overall size. It's an excellent example of Gotoh's signature style and the organic artistry of Japanese pipe design in general, all dressed in a dark color palette and low-profile sandblast, drawing focus to the shaping and lines of the composition.

-Truett Smith
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.07 in./128.78 mm.
  • Weight: 2.30 oz./65.20 g.
  • Bowl Height: 1.57 in./39.88 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.19 in./30.23 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.78 in./19.81 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.71 in./43.43 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Freehand
  • Finish: Sandblast
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Japan
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