Kent Rasmussen: Smooth Armadillo with Masur Birch Tobacco Pipe

Product Number: 002-287-0226

Kent Rasmussen has been working with wood since he was a child and grew up creating art, something he's been passionate about ever since, so much so that, in 1988, he began a career as a modern artist. In 1994 he carved his first pipe, more an experiment than anything else, though in 1998, after losing interest with the realm of modern art, he began carving pipes again, meeting Teddy Knudsen in 1999: a man who showed him that pipes themselves could be art. Armed with the knowledge that he could combine his passion with his work, he redoubled his efforts yet again, making artisan carving his new occupation and creating pieces such as this Armadillo.

The Armadillo is a signature shape from Kent, one of his most striking examples of design and one that, until now, we've never received before. The most striking element of this piece, and one that immediately leaps out at me, is the division of the top and bottom portions of the stummel and the sinuously flowing ridgeline that separates the two. This ridge follows the outline of the stummel exceptionally well, with specific prominence at the fore and aft, where the silhouette lifts dynamically. The aft's shaping certainly evokes the tail of the design's eponymous mammal, the stummel pinching slightly near the transition before the shank flares out to its end and comes to a domed face, the aforementioned ridge offering a pointed look that stylistically alters the shape of the shank to lend it further forward curvature. As the ridge wraps over this forward-urging part of the shank, it sweeps through the underside and lifts at the fore to frame the rim, though here it's more so a ridge than at the aft. Yes, the aft section's stretch of ridge is more like a panel, as Rasmussen has hollow-carved the stummel near the top and bottom areas to emphasize the presence of this separation, creating two ridges and an extremely slim panel that slowly dissipates into a single panel as they move forward.

The bowl here is interestingly shaped, with rising fore and aft sections at its rim and a positioning that imbues it with a forward momentum. It's here where the separation of the stummel is most evident: The shaping of the bowl's aft is significantly more bulbous, with a rounded, even outward push that feels quite nice in hand, while the fore and underside of this pipe see a pair of hollowed channels run through the flanks, the middle's outward push from here creating a rather extreme difference between the halves of this pipe, though one that feels balanced and highly intentional. A trim, demurely curved saddle stem fits to the face of the shank via a standard mortise-tenon arrangement whose mortise has been bolstered by a trim band of inlaid metal, the flared base of the stem adorned with a broad portion of masur birch which does well to contrast the vibrant auburn stain of the stummel. Said stain showcases some incredibly well-developed flame grain which follows the stummel excellently, while the entire underside is completely awash with dense birdseye.

-John McElheny
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Measurements & Other Details

  • Length: 5.33 in./135.38 mm.
  • Weight: 2.20 oz./62.37 g.
  • Bowl Height: 2.30 in./58.42 mm.
  • Chamber Depth: 1.56 in./39.62 mm.
  • Chamber Diameter: 0.77 in./19.56 mm.
  • Outside Diameter: 1.61 in./40.89 mm.
  • Stem Material: Vulcanite
  • Filter: None
  • Shape: Freehand
  • Finish: Smooth
  • Material: Briar
  • Country: Denmark
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