Blog by Steve Laug
I have several boxes of pipes that Jeff has sent me to work on over the past months that have some great looking pipes in them. I have chosen to work on four Gourd Calabash pipes that he picked up in several places. The last of them is a full bent Gourd with a meerschaum cup, a black acrylic shank end and a bent vulcanite stem. The gourd was very dirty with a lot of dust and grime ground into the finish. The meerschaum cup had a thick cake and an overflow of lava on the rim top. The pipe had obviously been heavily smoked which reflected on it being a great smoking pipe. The vulcanite stem was oxidized and had tooth marks and chatter on both sides ahead of the button. It is a an interesting pipe with a lot of potential under the grime and debris of the years. The Jeff took some photos of the Gourd Calabash before he worked his magic in cleaning up the pipe. Jeff took photos of the bowl, rim top to show the thickness of the cake in the bowl and the thick lava on the rim top. The rim top and inner edge are thickly covered with lava. The meerschaum has some patina developing. He took photos of the top and underside of the stem showing the tooth marks and chatter on both sides and the overall look of the stem and shank extension on the gourd.Jeff took photos of the sides and heel of the bowl to show the condition of the gourd bowl the developing patina on the meerschaum cup. This Full Bent Gourd Calabash is another interesting looking pipe. The meerschaum bowl has developed a patina and the bent vulcanite stem looks very good with it. Everything about the pipe reminds me of the Gourd Calabash pipes that Pioneer used to make. Could this be one of those? Probably will never know.
Jeff reamed carefully reamed the meerschaum bowl and the gourd base with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He carefully scrubbed the exterior of the bowl with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush to remove the grime and grit on the exterior of the meerschaum cup and rim top and lava on the rim top. He scrubbed out the internals of the bowl and the gourd with Murphy’s Oil Soap and a tooth brush. He cleaned out the shank extension, shank and the stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs until the pipe was clean. The finish looks much better and has a deep richness in the colour that highlights the patina in the meerschaum and the contrast of the rusticated gourd. He cleaned the internals of the vulcanite stem with alcohol, pipe cleaners and cotton swabs. He scrubbed the externals with Soft Scrub to remove the grime on the surface and soaked it in a bath of Briarville’s Pipe Stem Deoxidizer. He rinsed it and rubbed it down with a bit of olive oil before he sent it to me. When the pipe arrived here in Vancouver I was amazed that it looked so good. I took photos of it before I started my work on the pipe.I took some photos of the bowl and meerschaum cup. The rim top looks very good after the clean up though a bit spotty. There is still some darkening and chips/marks around the inner edge of the bowl that will need to be dealt with. The stem looks good but has light tooth marks and chatter on both sides near and on the surface of the button.I removed the stem from the shank and the meerschaum bowl from the gourd and took photos of the parts from various angles. The underside of the meerschaum cup was in good condition. I started the process of cleaning up the meerschaum bowl by sanding the inner edge and bevel with a folded piece of 220 grit sandpaper. I was able to remove the darkened edges and nicks with the sandpaper. It looked better after I worked on it.I polished the meerschaum rim top with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped the bowl down after each pad with a damp cloth to remove the sanding debris.I rubbed the meerschaum rim cap down with some Before & After Restoration Balm and worked it into the surface with my finger tips. I let it sit for about 15 minutes and then buffed it to a polish. The Balm really highlights the growing patina on the meer bowl. It works to protect and polish the meerschaum.I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the surface of the gourd calabash with my fingertips to clean, enliven and protect the briar. I let the balm sit for 15 minutes and then buffed with a cotton cloth to raise the shine. The photos show the bowl at this point in the restoration process. I used some Vaseline Petroleum Jelly to rejuvenate the cork gasket around the inside edge of the gourd. It would make the fit of the meerschaum snug against the gourd and the rejuvenated cork would make it smooth and easy to insert and remove the bowl.I let the cork absorb the Vaseline for about 5 minutes and then fit the bowl in the gourd. The pipe looked very good at this point in the process.I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I sanded the tooth marks on the top and underside of the stem with 220 grit sandpaper to smooth out the marks. I started to polish the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper.I polished the stem with micromesh sanding pads – dry sanding with 1500-12000 grit sanding pads. I wiped it down after each sanding pad with Obsidian Oil. I polished it with Before & After Pipe Stem Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine. I gave it a final coat of Obsidian Oil. It looks significantly better!With the bowl and the stem finished I put the beautiful Gourd Calabash with Meerschaum cup and fancy vulcanite stem back together and buffed it the bowl and cup lightly on the wheel using Blue Diamond to give it a shine. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of carnauba wax. I buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finish on the gourd and meer is a great looking. The fancy vulcanite stem looked very good. The dimensions of the pipe are – Length: 7 ½ inches, Height: 4 inch, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 ¾ inches, Chamber diameter: 1 inch. The weight of this large pipe is 3.81 ounces /108 grams. This Gourd Calabash is another great find. It is much more beautiful in person than these photos can capture. I will be putting it on the rebornpipes store shortly. If you would like to add it to your rack let me know by email or message. This is another pipe that has the possibility of transporting the pipe man or woman back to a slower paced time in history where you can enjoy a respite. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me.