Daily Archives: April 15, 2017

Breathing New Life into a No Name Gourd Calabash

Blog by Steve Laug

Having finished the first three gourd calabashes that my brother and I picked up on my recent trip to Idaho I move on to the fourth one. I purposely left the fourth and fifth pipes for last because they came to me in used condition. The bowls and gourds are original. I am not convinced that the stems for either one is original but I will probably never know. The gourd on this one is in great shape. It is significantly lighter in colour and weight than the previous three. The calabash does not have the patina that age and time adds to it. The shank end is made of plastic and includes a cap that covers the end of the gourd and an extension that forms the mortise for a push tenon. It appears that the shank extension is inserted with a plug and glued into the calabash end. I took the pipe apart and took the photo below.  The stem was oxidized and there were tooth marks and chatter on the surface of the stem at the button on both sides. The meerschaum cup/bowl had been used. There was darkening on the underside of the bowl and the inside of the bowl had some darkening from smoking. The top of the cup was scratched and nicked from being knocked against hard objects. There was some tar and smoke damage on the inner edge of the rim and the top.The inside of the gourd had been cleaned and showed little wear and tear. There was a new cork gasket on the top inner edge of the gourd. It was dry and hard but undamaged. The shank extension had been well drilled as a mortise for the push tenon stem. It was plastic and was in excellent condition. I took a close up photo of the meerschaum bowl. You can see the darkening from the lighting of the pipe and the scratches in the surface of the bowl top. The inside of the bowl is darkened. The second photo shows the underside of the bowl. It is also slightly darkened. Overall the bowl looks to be in decent shape. The stem on this one was well used. It was oxidized and the tooth marks and chatter were on both sides near the button. Of the four calabashes I have worked on to this point this one has the most used stem. None of the marks are too deep so it should not take too much work to smooth things out.I started by working on the meerschaum bowl. I sanded out the scratches and marks with a well-worn piece of 220 grit sandpaper and then polished it with micromesh sanding pads. I wet sanded the bowl top and edges with 1500-2400 grit sanding pads. I dry sanded it with 3200-12000 grit pads. I buffed it with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel to polish out the remaining scratches. When I finished polishing the bowl I gave it several coats of beeswax polish and buffed it with a soft cloth and a shoe brush.I rubbed the cork gasket down with Vaseline to soften and enliven it. I let it absorb into the cork and repeated the process until the cork was soft.I waxed the gourd with Conservator’s Wax and when it dried I buffed it and gave it repeated coats of wax. I buffed it with a shoe brush and then with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. I cleaned out the mortise and the inside of the shank and stem with pipe cleaners, cotton swabs and alcohol. It did not take too many swabs or cleaners to remove the debris in the gourd and the stem. Inside was in far better condition that the outside of the shank and bowl. I sanded out the tooth chatter and the tooth marks with 220 grit sandpaper until the surface was smooth. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – wet sanding it with 1500-2400 grit pads and dry sanding with 3200-12000 grit pads. I rubbed the stem down with Obsidian Oil after each set of three pads and gave the stem a final coat of oil after the last pad. I set it aside to dry. I buffed the stem with Blue Diamond to polish out the last of the oxidation in the grooves of the stem and also to polish out the remaining scratches. I buffed the gourd and the stem with carnauba wax and a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I avoided buffing the plastic shank extension and merely buffed it by hand with a microfiber cloth. I buffed the entire pipe by hand with the microfiber cloth. The finished pipe is shown in the photos below. It is a smaller pipe than the others I have posted and is comfortable in the mouth and the hand. It will soon join the previous three calabashes on the rebornpipes store. Feel free to contact me if you are interested in adding this one to your collection. Thanks for looking.