Kurt Balleby

In 2008 it iwas 25 years since he started making mouthpieces in Kai Nielsens workshop in a backyard behind a pub in Kolding. After the day’s work, he would stay in the workshop for several hours making his own pipes, which he sold to local people. He spent so many hours (working) during daytime and evenings, that it cost him his first marriage. In the following years, while he was still working for Kai, he started to buy tools and machines. And finally in 1989 he was ready. His first workshop was on the second floor in another backyard. One of his friends, who was playing in a band, and he rented the whole second floor of the house. He got 2 rooms for his workshop, and he got the rest where he could practice with his band. Downstairs there was an undertaker. 2 years later Kurt bought his own house, and he got the basement, where he was still working. He lives in an old house on the outskirts of the city Kolding with his wife Else who is a social worker, and his two daughters Tine, who is 18 years old and Anne who is 16. They are both in high school here in Kolding. His area was with the typical Danish humour, called Alpedalen (The Alp Valley). Alpedalen is a valley formed by the last ice age with a little creek running through. Here he walked every day with his dog (black Labrador). Pipes are his passion. he loved to make pipes, and he seek ed to create the perfect pipe every time. The perfect pipe for him is a pipe that has the right proportions, so that nothing disturbs your eyes. It must be light, not too much wood but just enough to smoke well. Finish is of course a vital issue, it must be warm and with contrast so you can enjoy the grain. Mouthpiece is also important, because here you are closest to the pipe. What he prefers is a slim mouthpiece with a saddle, short or longer, and a bite that is 3.7- 3.8 mm. thick. He makes about 100 pipes a year. His production has gone down over the last 4-5 years, but in the same time the quality of his pipes has gone up. The main reason for his improvements is that 4 years ago he stopped working with the sanding band, and switched to sanding the pipes by hand. This made him able to make more detailed models and of course a much better finish. He also select his wood (mostly Italian) in the highest quality, and the ebonite is of course of the best clarinet quality.