Tag Archives: Gourd Calabash pipes with Porcelain bowls

Cleaning up another Carved Bowl Gourd Calabash with Porcelain Cup


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. Last night I tried to remove the stem from the top pipe with the yellow stem and the tenon broke off in my hand. That left me with the bottom pipe in the photo below. It had a carved finish on the gourd surface and a unique Porcelain cup instead of meerschaum. It was a tall narrow pipe. Jeff had done the clean up work on the interior of the gourd and the porcelain 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 porcelain is dull and needing to be polished but otherwise they are in excellent condition.The calabash on the bottom of the above photo is a tall, narrow, drawn out gourd. The gourd has a carved finish that does not come through well in the above photo. It is well done and very tactile. Its measurements are Length: 9 inches, Height: 4 ½ inches, Diameter of the porcelain cup: 2 ½ inches, Diameter of the chamber: 1 inch, Depth of the chamber: 1 inch. I took photos of that pipe before my polishing work. 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 and has light tooth chatter and 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. The porcelain bowl is quite different from the normal meerschaum bowl that is generally used on these calabash pipes.     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 porcelain bowl in the gourd easily.I polished the porcelain cup/bowl with micromesh sanding pads – polishing with 1500-12000 grit pads and wiping them down with a damp cloth after each pad.  Because the gourd had been carved and the surface opened up the calabash was quite dry. I worked some Before & After Restoration Balm into the finish with my finger tips and a horsehair shoe brush. The product cleans, protects and enlivens the surface of the material that it is rubbed into and in this case it really enhanced the rustication on the gourd.   I put the porcelain cup in the gourd calabash bowl and took photos of the restoration of this pipe to this point in the process.      I sanded out the tooth marks in the vulcanite with 220 grit sandpaper and blended them into the surface of the surrounding stem. I started the polishing with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after the sanding.    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 porcelain 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 porcelain bowl is clean and ready load up with your favourite tobacco. Have a look at it in the photos below. As noted above, Its measurements are Length: 8 inches, Height: 3 ½ inches, Diameter of the meerschaum cup: 2 ¼ inches, Diameter of the chamber: ¾ of an inch, Depth of the chamber: 1 ¼ inches. The weight of the pipe is 71grams/2.50oz. This is one will be going on the rebornpipes store in  CERAMIC & MEERSCHAUM PIPES – CALABASHES, SMOOTH & FIGURALS section. 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.           

New Life for a Small Gourd Calabash with a Porcelain Bowl and a Bakelite Stem


Blog by Steve Laug

The next pipe on the table came to us from a group of pipes that Jeff picked up on a recent pipe hunt in Utah. It is an older Gourd Calabash that is in decent condition. It is has a nickel band that has faux hallmarks that identify it as an American made calabash. The gourd portion of the pipe is in good shape other than a damaged spot on the left side toward the bottom of the gourd. It is almost as if the top layer of the gourd had bubbled and peeled. The gourd has a great mix of colours that darken toward the shank end. The cup/bowl portion is made of porcelain rather than meerschaum. It was dirty and had some buildup of tars on the inner edge. The walls of the bowl had a thin cake build up on the surface. The finish was dirty with dust ground into the gourd and some oxidation on the band on the shank end. The taper stem was made of Bakelite and had tooth marks and chatter ahead of the button on both sides. The button edge was worn down and would need to be recut.  Jeff took photos of the pipe to show what it looked like before he started working on it. He took photos of the porcelain bowl and rim top to show cake in the bowl and the lava on the inner edge of the bowl. The edge looked rough but should clean up very easily. The photos of the sides and heel of the bowl show the colours around the exterior of the gourd. It is a beauty under the grime and dust.    The stamping on the nickel band is shown in the photo below. It looks very good and readable. It is a classic set of faux hallmarks that I have found present on American made pipes. Jeff captured the overall look in the first photo followed by some closer photos of sections of the stamp so you can read it.He removed the stem from the shank and took photos. They both show the inset bone tenon in the stem. The alignment in the gourd shank is perfect and the threads in the shank look very good.   There was nothing about the pipe that gave me any clues as to the manufacture of the pipe. It is well made would be a great looking piece once it was restored. I turned to work on the pipe itself. Jeff had carried out his usual thorough cleanup of the pipe. He had carefully scraped the walls of the porcelain bowl with a Savinelli Fitsall Pipe Knife. He scrubbed the internals of the bowl, shank and stem with alcohol, cotton swabs and pipe cleaners. He scrubbed the externals with undiluted Murphy’s Oil Soap and rinsed the bowl off with running water. He soaked the stem in Before & After Deoxidizer and once it had soaked rinsed it off with warm water to remove the residual solution. He dried it off and rubbed it down to remove any oxidation that was still on the stem. The pipe looked very good when I received it.  I took a photo of the rim top to show the condition. The rim top and edges look very good. The bowl is clean. The stem came out looking quite good. There are some tooth marks and chatter on both sides and some remaining oxidation.   I took a photo of the band on the shank to show the hallmarks. They are as pictured above.I removed the stem from the shank and took a photo of the pipe parts to show what I was working with. It is a nice looking pipe. Since the bowl was in such excellent condition I started the restoration by rubbing the gourd calabash down with Before & After Restoration Balm. I worked it into the surface of the gourd with my fingertips to clean, enliven and preserve the exterior of the bowl. I let it sit for 10 minutes while I worked on the stem. After the time passed I buffed it with a cotton cloth to deepen the shine. The gourd really comes alive with the balm. I set the bowl aside and turned my attention to the stem. I recut the button edge with a file to redefine the sharp edge. I sanded the stem to remove the tooth marks and chatter from both sides with 220 grit sandpaper and started polishing the stem with 400 grit wet dry sandpaper. I polished the vulcanite with micromesh sanding pads – 1500-12000 grit pads. I wiped it down with Obsidian Oil after each sanding pad. I used Before & After Pipe Polish – both Fine and Extra Fine to further polish the stem.   I rubbed the bone tenon down with Vaseline to lubricate it and make screwing it in easier. This Porcelain Bowled Gourd Calabash is a beautiful little pipe that is in remarkable shape. The Gourd looks very good with the coloration that has happened with it and the amber coloured Bakelite bent taper stem. Combination of colours of the white porcelain, golden gourd, silver coloured band and the amber stem looks very good. The cleaned up really well and it looks good for its age. With the dust gone from the finish and the bowl it was a beauty and is eye-catching. I put the stem back on the bowl and carefully buffed the pipe with Blue Diamond on the buffing wheel. I gave the bowl and stem multiple coats of Conservator’s Wax and followed that by buffing it with a clean buffing pad. I hand buffed the pipe with a microfiber cloth to deepen the shine. The finished Gourd Calabash is quite nice and feels great in the hand. Give the finished pipe a look in the photos below. I can only tell you that like the other pipes I am working that it is much prettier in person than the photos capture. The dimensions of the pipe are Length: 5 inches, Height: 2 ½ inches, Outside diameter of the bowl: 2 inches, Chamber diameter: 2 inches. Thanks for walking through the restoration with me as I worked over another beautiful pipe. This one will be on the rebornpipes store shortly if you are interested in adding it to your rack. Thanks for your time.