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Verwoerd Ceramics Online   

Miniature Clay Pipes

Since the 17th century the city of Gouda has been known for its clay pipe industry, and miniatures were a natural by-product. The illustration below shows a typical long "Gouwenaar" pipe by Goedewaagen, and its miniature Verwoerd offspring. After the Second World War a great number of souvenir miniature pipe racks were produced, mainly by the Goedewaagen factory, and by the workshop of the De Jong family. The Verwoerd workshop was one of the suppliers of miniature pipes.

The pipe making industry of Gouda has been founded by English pipe makers who had served as soldiers in the Dutch Republic when Holland and England were in war against Spain. Pipe making requires specialist skills. A clay pipe starts out as a blank, a thin clay roll with a small lump at one of the extremes. After the rolls have dried for a few days, the master pipe maker or kaster (cast = mould) pierces the clay lengthwise with a wire in order to form the smoking tube. This is actually one of the most difficult parts of the process. Next the wired blank is placed in a two-part metal mould. While the parts of the mould are pressed together in a vice, the bowl opening is pierced with an iron stopper. After the pipe is removed from its mould, the mould seams are trimmed off, and the pipes are allowed to dry for a few more days. Now the pipes are ready to be fired in a potter's kiln.

Miniature pipes are made in exactly the same way. Verwoerd designed the pipes. The May 1949 model illustrated here features a relief windmill and a Dutch milkmaid on the cheeks of the bowl, and a curly relief decoration on the stem. He then created a plaster of Paris model from which he made a plaster mould. A bronze mould was formed after the plaster example. The actual pipe making was done by a specialist craftsman - recently identified as Stephanus de Lange - who was hired by the Verwoerd workshop, and to whom Verwoerd supplied the moulds and stoppers. After the miniature pipes had been fired in the Verwoerd workshop kiln, they were ready to be sold to manufacturers of miniature pipe racks and pipe stands.

Verwoerd took up miniature pipe making in the years between the end of WWII in 1945, and the official start of his Studio in 1949. The early miniatures were quite coarse. A second model was much more refined, but did not have any decorations. Neither was as successful as the 1949 design that is shown on this page. It seems that Verwoerd also had the ambition of supplying a matching pottery pipe rack, and a turned wooden pipe stand, but that these ideas were crowded out by the growing demand for his Delft Medallions. A sample model of the pipe rack, the plaster mould it was made in, a sample miniature pipe stand, and the corresponding design drawings are now part of the museum collection.