Cleaning Up an Older Meerschaum Bowled Gourd Calabash


Blog by Steve Laug

With all of the work I have been doing the last couple of days on gourd calabash pipes I decided to look through some my pipes awaiting restoration and found three more calabashes. I received an email from a fellow wanting one that would cost a little less than the unsmoked ones that have all sold. I sent him the photo below and he chose the second pipe the one in the middle toward the right of the photo. Jeff had done the clean up work on the interior of the gourd and the meerschaum cup. There was still some darkening on the rim top but nothing serious. He had soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and then scrubbed it with Soft Scrub. I have had it in boxes here for at least a year if not longer The vulcanite stem is lightly oxidized and the meerschaum is dull and needing to be polished but otherwise they are in excellent condition. The calabash is a well formed gourd with a nicely crowned meerschaum cup. Its measurements are Length: 7 inches, Height: 4 inches, Diameter of the meerschaum cup: 3 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 1 inch, Depth of the chamber: 1 ½ inches. I took photos of the cup to show the cleanness of the bowl. It is a little scratched which I will polish out. The stem is lightly oxidized but surprisingly unmarked by tooth chatter or marks. It should clean up easily.     I took the pipe apart and took a series of photos to show its condition and the overall appearance of the pipe. The cork gasket it dry and lifeless and needs to be rejuvenated. I used some Vaseline Petroleum Jelly to rejuvenate the cork gasket in the bowl. I worked it into the cork with my finger tips to soften the gasket. Once it had absorbed a bit it would be soft and hold the meerschaum bowl in the gourd easily.I polished the meerschaum cup/bowl with micromesh sanding pads – polishing with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping them down with a damp cloth after each pad.   I put the meerschaum cup in the gourd calabash bowl and took photos of the restoration of this pipe to this point in the process.  I set aside the bowl and turned my attention to the stem. I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads –sanding it with 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down after each pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it further with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both fine and extra fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil.     I really enjoyed refurbishing this pipe because I love the final touches that make it sing. I put the Gourd Calabash back together and lightly buffed the bowl with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the gourd and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a clean buffing pad to raise the shine. I hand buffed it with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. It is fun to see what the polished meerschaum bowl looks like with the smooth finished gourd and the black vulcanite stem. This richly finished Gourd Calabash is light weight and ready for you to load up a tobacco of preference and enjoy smoking it. The bowl has a light patina from just sitting unsmoked. It should colour very well as you smoke it. Have a look at it in the photos below. As noted above, its measurements are Length: 7 inches, Height: 4 inches, Diameter of the meerschaum cup: 3 inches, Diameter of the chamber: 1 inch, Depth of the chamber: 1 ½ inches. The weight of the pipe is 109grams/3.84oz. This is one is already sold and will soon go to pipeman who purchased it. Thanks to each of you who are reading this blog. Remember we are not pipe owners; we are pipemen and women who hold our pipes in trust until they pass on into the trust of the next generation.   

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