Danish School?

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tobefrank

Senior Member
Jun 22, 2015
485
968
I’m mainly attracted to American and Danish pipes. My favourite two pipes are a sandblasted Bruce Weaver lovat and a Sixten Ivarsson design Stanwell lovat shape 124 that I bought as an estate.
It is often mentioned that a pipe is designed or shaped according to the ‘Danish School’. This made me wonder: what are the characteristics of the Danish School of pipe making?
I’d be interested about peoples’ thoughts on this.

 

sasquatch

Preferred Member
Jul 16, 2012
1,070
282
There are at least 5 "schools" but of course they are growing and blending all the time. Pipes started out as a factory thing, you have a template of things like billiards and bulldogs, shapes that take to being machined out. There is always lots of "hand work" on any pipe but the idea on these pipes is that in a sense, they all come out the same.
In the 60s, some crazy Danes got the idea that maybe pipes didn't have to be so boring, and starting making shapes that were unique, and more than that, shapes where the grain of the wood was not just a random circumstance. Sixten Ivarsson is probably the first guy that people look at in this regard. But this blossoms into an aesthetic school where curves are very careful and mathematical, shapes are often sparse (certain ones like the Blowfish have become more complicated) and even severe at times.
If you contrast this with Japanese pipes, for example, you see a huge difference in proportions and goals.... Japanese pipes feature little nods to nature, assymetry, more mixed finishes, additions of traditional decorations - generally it's really easy to tell a Japanese pipe from a Danish one, and sometimes the easiest way to learn about this stuff is to go look at a hundred examples. Look at Tokutomi and Satau for examples.
There may be an American school at this point, where ideas from the other schools are understood and applied, but the shaping is a little more traditional. Rad Davis and Ryan Alden would be good examples, as would Roush and Butera I guess. Myself too if I think about it, having been taught mostly by Americans, I have embraced most of those ideas, even if I mostly make factory-ish shapes now. Airway construction, internal setup is paramount in this school too, where some of those old Danish pipes are pretty poor inside (again corrected, these schools affect each other).
I'll stick the Italain neo-classicism in here - you see pipes that are almost parodies of the traditional factory pipes - ballooned out, elongated, squashed. Playful shapes. Fun pipes. But far less care in terms of those exacting Danish curves, right, like... close enough will usually do on these. The very best examples are indeed very well and carefully made pipes. The difficulty everyone else seems to have in making a Castello 55 shape properly is proof.
Look again at Russian pipes - lots of crazy shaping, a little more organic than Danish ones but less than Japanese - almost a mechanized them in some of them, like if you drew a cartoon of an animal, made it a robot, and then made it a pipe... lots of little details and shapes, anything goes as long as it's interesting. Yashtylov and Revyagin are great examples.

 

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sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
10,810
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Probably the chief characteristic I've both seen and heard discussed by Danish carvers is the idea of following the grain and shaping for it, unlike the traditional British and French schools who had developed a canon of classical shapes that adhered to fairly exacting ratios while generally ignoring the grain of the wood.

The result of the Danish School - often attributed as having been created by Sixten Ivarsson - is a more flowing and organic reinterpretation of the classical canon and the introduction of new shapes and freehands. There is still a lot of mathematical precision in the shaping, just as there is with the classical shapes, but its expression takes on a more flowing form and is affected by the grain patterns of the block being shaped.

 

mso489

Preferred Member
Feb 21, 2013
29,383
8,733
Thank you, sas' and sable'. I've become familiar with Danish style visually, but I had never heard it verbalized before. I have several good representations of freehands from Nording, Johs, and an anonymous Thompson Cigar House pipe (stamped West Germany!). I have a Stanwell pot, the squashed tomato look not cylindrical, designed for them by Sixten Iversson. But this discussion clarifies my ideas about the Danish school(s). Freehands gave rise to an infinite number of poorly designed pipes from off-brands, but imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.

 

jfred

Member
Apr 30, 2018
118
2
The Stanwell 124 lovat was also one of my first pipes. Now, many new pipes later, it's still one of my favorite smokers.

 

dmcmtk

Preferred Member
Aug 23, 2013
3,234
556
Danish School, a good place to start is to look at the late 1950's - early 1960's catalogs of Stanwell (Sixten Ivarsson), W.O. Larsen (Sven Knudsen), and PipeDan (Gert Holbek) to get a good sense of what I would call the "Early Danish Modern".
http://www.danishpipemakers.com/pdf/stanwell2.pdf

http://www.danishpipemakers.com/pdf/wo1.pdf

http://www.danishpipemakers.com/pdf/pibedan_61_62.pdf
Another pipe maker to look at from this period is Svend Axel Celius,
https://pipedia.org/wiki/Celius
What came next is what I would call the "Fancy Freehand" period, just look at pipes by Preben Holm etc. Even Holm's pipes in the early ~ mid 1960's were rooted in the shaping of the "Early Danish Modern".
The pipedia entry on Sixten Ivarsson is quite good,
https://pipedia.org/wiki/Ivarsson,_Sixten
:)

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
14,861
8,602
United States
For my tastes the Danes make some very cool Dublins, Apples and Brandy's. I own a number of Rad Davis pipes and some of them pay homage to the Danes. I like the way the Danes get their pipes to flow in a cool and unique way.

 

mau1

Preferred Member
Jan 5, 2018
913
416
Canada
Funny this topic should come up. A couple of days ago I asked if it would be possible to have a Danish Pipes section created under Pipe Talk. I'm a fan and would like to see all discussions/pictures in one place.

 

sablebrush52

Preferred Member
Jun 15, 2013
10,810
4,555
The idea of an American school is interesting. I honestly don't know if it exists in any identifiable form. There are a number of American carvers who produce Danish influenced carvings, like J Alan, and others who produce shapes that are very much based on the classical French/English canon, like Scottie Piersel, and still others who have created a very personal approach to carving, like Lee Von Erck. Maybe the American school is that there is no school.

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
14,861
8,602
United States
Jesse, I think the American school could be a bang for the buck type thing. When it comes to smoking properties, my 52 No American artisan pipes smoke as good if not better in many cases than the higher priced Danes and Scandinavians I owned in the past.
I have 2 other artisan made pipes, one is a Jose Rubio from Spain and a Simone Gilli from Italy. The Rubio smokes great and the Gilli is still a work in progress. The Gilli has a hot spot I am hoping more cake will cure it.

 

npod

Preferred Member
Jun 11, 2017
2,870
590
Danish School?!? After chasing pipes for years and looking/touching/trading, the "schools" become something you just know when you see it.
The phrase "I know it when I see it" is a colloquial expression by which a speaker attempts to categorize an observable fact or event, although the category is subjective or lacks clearly defined parameters.
Quote from the famous Justice Steward: I shall not today attempt further to define the kinds of material I understand to be embraced within that shorthand description ["hard-core pornography"], and perhaps I could never succeed in intelligibly doing so. But I know it when I see it, and the motion picture involved in this case is not that.
Variations on a similar pipe shape:
Danish (Eltang, yep, that's Danish School)


American (Polman, yep, that's American Style, note I didn't say School)


Italian (Castello, yep, that's Italian School)


Japanese (Tokutomi, yep, that's Japanese Style/School)


Chinese (XuHai, yep, that's Chinese School/School)



 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
14,861
8,602
United States
Neal, great pics, thanks for posting them. That Eltang I could have picked from a line up. It is so him and his Danish roots. The flow, shape and the stain are dead giveaways.
Here is an American artisan named Jerry Crawford. His take on the Danish Egg is this pipe and the price is of course a lot different than the Eltang( if it is a Snail grade it is around 1500.00)

https://www.blueroombriars.com/collections/crawford-pipes/products/jerry-crawford-pipe-smooth-danish-egg

 

dmcmtk

Preferred Member
Aug 23, 2013
3,234
556
From the Early Danish Modern,

more here,
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/larsen-handicraft-de-luxe
and,

see,
http://pipesmagazine.com/forums/topic/larsen-copenhagen-special
and,

I could go on, and on, and...
:D

 

cigrmaster

Preferred Member
May 26, 2012
14,861
8,602
United States
mau and dc, great picks guys. Here is a lousy pic of a great pipe. It is one of only a couple I wish I had never sold.

It is a Former and had incredible straight grain.



 

dmcmtk

Preferred Member
Aug 23, 2013
3,234
556
What came next is what I would call the "Fancy Freehand" period, just look at pipes by Preben Holm etc. Even Holm's pipes in the early ~ mid 1960's were rooted in the shaping of the "Early Danish Modern".
Two early (early ~ mid '60's) Preben Holm stummels to illustrate my point,



and some later Preben Holm "Fancy Freehands",

:D

 

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