08-16-2021, 07:19 PM
  • Bax
  • Senior Member
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I had an opportunity to try out a couple of bowls today.  Well... a scuttle and a bowl.  One came from Phoenix Shaving, and the other came from Dirty Bird Pottery in Boothbay Harbor, Maine.  I'll omit discussion of adding hot water, since this is more a discussion of size, shape, and texture of the bowls than a discussion of heat retention and the like.

Here are the two contenders (I had to goof with brightness and contrast in order to get a good view of the textures inside the bowls.  It kinda made the colors look bad.  Both bowls are aesthetically pleasing, with the Prussian Blue Phoenix scuttle and sand/blue color of the Dirty Bird being very rich in color.  Use the photo to see shapes and textures, not colors):

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1) The Intergalactic Indestructible Shatterproof Travel Scuttle by Phoenix Shaving is at left in the pic above.  The Phoenix scuttle is 4 1/4" in diameter by 2 1/2" deep (interior dimensions).  The sides have a waffle-ish sort of texture, for more friction when whipping up a lather.  $27

2) The Dirty Bird "Soap Bowl" for shaving is on the right.  The Dirty Bird Pottery "soap bowl" is 3 1/4" in diameter by 1 1/2" deep.  There is a subtle swirl on bottom of the bowl, and it it shaped to keep lather from climbing the sides.   $22

The Phoenix bowl was oddly shaped.  It wasn't an inverse dome shape, but was more conical.  The Dirty Bird bowl is shaped like a flat-bottomed bowl with slightly bulging sides. 

I wanted to try out each bowl with (1) cream and (2) soap.  I used the same Semogue boar bristle brush for each test (rinsed well before and between each test).

First I used Proraso from a tube:
1)  In order to get a lather going in the Phoenix scuttle, I had to use about 3x more product than I normally use to face lather.  Finally was able to get a passable lather (nothing to brag about, and was a lot of work to make it).  When I was done and rinsed out the bowl, I had a bunch of it caked in the pointy bottom of the Phoenix; that was wasteful and made clean-up more difficult, too.
2)  I  used about the same amount of product in the Dirty Bird bowl that I use when I face-lather.  Although I had misgivings about the shape of the bowl (I'd have preferred a spherical bottom rather than a flat bottom, and I wasn't sure the texture in the bottom was aggressive enough.)  The lather whipped up quickly and efficiently.  I didn't have to keep adding product like I did with the Phoenix.  Despite my initial doubt, it worked very well!  Dirty Bird beat the Phoenix on this test IMHO, since it was easier, faster, more efficient, and didn't waste any product.

Next came the "chip of soap" test.  I had a Mystic Water "Windjammer" sample in my drawer, so I broke off two same-sized pieces and tossed one in each bowl.  
1)  I whipped it up in the Phoenix scuttle, but it seemed hard to control the product while adding water, since it seemed to spread out everywhere.  Probably due to the shape of the Phoenix; it seemed to really spread out the nascent lather and it kinda climbed the sides rather than letting me work it efficiently.  I didn't give up, though, and eventually got a good lather out of it.
2)  When I did the same routine in the Dirty Bird bowl, it whipped up quickly and easily.  I didn't realize how much work it was with the Phoenix until I tried the Dirty Bird; the DB was a pleasant surprise!  The smaller, more contained, bowl seemed to hold the lather together so it could be whipped into a frenzy more efficiently.  I was working the lather, rather than chasing it around the bowl.  It seemed like I got a lot MORE lather out of the same size piece of Mystic Water soap with the Dirty Bird, probably because it wasn't all spread out.  No contest here, Dirty Bird won by a mile.  For me, at least.

One thing I did NOT try was loading up the brush elsewhere, then using the scuttle/bowl solely to work up the lather.  But based on my conclusions regarding the size and shape of the bowls, I'm pretty sure the results would have been the same.  For me, anyway.

I concluded that the Dirty Bird shaving soap bowl was a winner for me, by far.  No, it won't heat up your lather like the Scuttle will, but I'm not sure hot lather is worth the extra work, inefficiency due to shape, and wasted product.  If I really wanted to, I could always pour hot water in the DB bowl and let it pre-heat the pottery bowl before using it; it'd probably warm up the lather, too.  (Dirty Bird makes pottery scuttles, too, but they seem to be shaped like the Phoenix inside.)

I really like the Phoenix scuttle IDEA - a LOT.  I was pretty excited to try it out.  But I think they missed the mark with this one.  The shape inside is all wrong (sides too steep and bottom too pointy) and the ridges meant to assist in whipping up lather are just too big to do the job well without using (wasting?) a lot of extra product.  The bowl is too big-around to comfortably fit in my (average male) hand.  I think if they made it a tad smaller in diameter, and decreased the aggressiveness of the interior ridges, and made the bowl more spherical inside (not steep-sided like it is, nor flat-bottomed like the Dirty Bird), then I think they'd have hit it out of the park like Joey Meyer* on a good day!

The above observations are mine and mine alone.  I don't own stock in Dirty Bird and don't know the lady; discovered her products while surfing.  Nor have I got any interest in Phoenix (didn't even know about them until I got this scuttle).  I just thought the DB bowl was light years better than the Phoenix scuttle... FOR ME.  Other folks might have different techniques or products that could yield different results.  Your mileage may vary.

I note that neither of these two options are as undeniably CLASSY as my beat-up old baby cereal bowl with dancing penguins on the side that I'm using now!
Y'can't have everything, I guess...

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I'll start using the Dirty Bird bowl as my main soap bowl, and will keep my plastic dancing penguin baby cereal bowl as my version of an "interstellar, unbreakable, adamantine** travel bowl."  

If I want a hot shave this winter and feel a need to use the Phoenix scuttle, perhaps I'll fill up the Phoenix's water reservoir with boiling water and plop in some lather I've whipped up with my Dirty Bird bowl.  
Who says shaving needs to be EFFICIENT?
- Bax 


* In 1987, Joey Meyer of the Denver Zephyrs hit the longest verifiable home run in professional baseball history. The home run was measured at a distance of 582 feet (177 m) and was hit inside Denver's Mile High Stadium.  If you REALLY want to hit it out of the park, do it like Joey Meyer!

**  I get extra points for using "adamantine" in a sentence.  Some say the word originated in Greek mythology, as the mythical indestructible material used by the gods to chain Promethius.  I think it came from cartoons, because everybody knows Adam Ant is indestructible, so if it's "adamantine" it's of/like Adam Ant... therefore indestructible!   It's prima facie evidence that even the Greek gods watched Saturday morning cartoons! 
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0 532
 08-16-2021, 08:14 PM
  • chazt
  • Super Moderator
  • Queens, NY
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Nice review, Bax. It seems like you’ve found a new AD? Maybe not…

Over the years I’ve briefly considered trying out a scuttle, or a bowl designed specifically for creating lather. For some reason I just never took the plunge.

Thanks for sharing your thoughts  Sbathroom_grooming_shaving_100-100

22 6,998
 08-17-2021, 03:24 AM
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Nice review, Bax.

Dirty Bird bowls and scuttles are among the best shaving ceramics available. 

In 2012, Dirry Bird did a limited edition run of its Bird Bowl for TSN.  Here was # 1/50.  Credit for this photo goes to Johnny.

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60 12,340
 08-17-2021, 03:36 AM
  • Bax
  • Senior Member
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"TSN 2012"  
Very cool, indeed!
- Bax

0 532
 08-17-2021, 04:02 AM
  • Chappy
  • Active Member
  • Oklahoma, OK, USA
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Good review, Bax!  I must say I was expecting a different conclusion but can understand your results as you explained them.  Been considering a scuttle myself but found I can use my Timeless plastic bowl very well and can get warm lather by filling with water, microwave for 1 minute. put brush in to soak, and by the time I prep everything else I'm good to go.

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 08-17-2021, 05:03 AM
  • Bax
  • Senior Member
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Gee the Timeless bowl looks like it'd be easier to clean than the Phoenix... and it's half the price of DB or Phoenix, too!
Too bad it has that flat bottom.  I should think a spherical bowl would work better than one with a hard chine.
(Ok, a "chine" is what we call it on a boat... no idea what it's called on the interior of a bowl.)
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- Bax

0 532
 08-19-2021, 06:07 AM
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You're kind of comparing apples and oranges with a bowl vs scuttle...
I own a DB scuttle and must say I love it. They incorporate a wide lip at the top that keeps lather from breaching the rim and it works extremely well. 
The grooves in the bowl are more similar to that Phoenix scuttle you show.  
The DB was a gift from my wife and is basically all I use now. Nothing beats a hot lather, and the heat retention is amazing... just as hot for the third pass as the first. 
I'd highly recommend one for any den. 
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