Tag Archives: Urushi

Pearls Before Mina

(The title makes sense in context, I swear.)

So, earlier this May I contacted Ernest Shin of Hakumin Urushi Kobo to make me a customized Edison Extended Mina in urushi with a maki-e cloud and lotus design I drew up.

The thing is, urushi pens take months to finish, because the coating takes so long to dry between applications. And that’s only counting those pens without any designs on them. Last time I checked in with Ernest (back in the beginning of November), the pen was still undergoing its preliminary stages of urushi coating….which means it’ll probably be at least a year before I see my customized baby. (Ah, maybe by December 2014 if I’m lucky?)

That’s actually okay, though the waiting period does inspire boredom at times…boredom that prompts me to Google images and pen reviews and what have you nots. So a few weeks back, I decided that the Edison Pearl would make a good canvas for maki-e too, and starting doodling more pen designs for fun.

Of course, I’m not going to jump in and order another customized urushi pen so soon—my wallet will murder me, and I don’t want to jump the gun before I try out my Mina (which is my first ever Edison purchase, btw). But I like doodling, and I like pens, so here’s a selection of my funky drawings. Who knows? Maybe they’ll inspire someone else to order a pen so I can see the results. I can’t own all of these Pearls, after all…

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Hmm, I think the one with three fans as a design has some real potential!

Sho-Hakkaku in the Snow

It’s cold and snowy today, so I took the chance to sneak outside and stomp around (gracefully, mind you) in the soft sticky white stuff. This is the kind of weather I like best–gray skies, still wind, thick, fat flurries trailing lazily down from the skies to land in your hair like a dusting of powdered sugar. If you grab a clump of snow, you can even see the individual snowflakes before they melt.

In a pause between my frolics, I took some photos of my newest pen–a Danitrio Sho-Hakkaku in Ki-dame urushi finish. I funded it with sales of some of my other pens. (Because apparently, all the charm of precious resin and vintage nibs couldn’t compare to those of a pen coated in poisonous tree sap. True love defies logic, once again.) It was still snowing, so the sky was too dark for a perfect picture, but I tried nonetheless. I’m sure there’ll be more chances for us to get intimate in the future.

Sho-Hakkaku in the snow, all capped up against the cold.
Sho-Hakkaku in the snow, all capped up against the cold.

So on a side note, what’s that lavender bag in the background? I have no idea, either–I grabbed it off a friend who didn’t want it anymore, because it was the perfect size to fit my Sho-Hakkaku in. Judging by the designs, I’m guessing it used to be a Tumi accessory of some sort…whatever the case, it does its job well! The inside is lined with blue silk, the drawstring closes quite nicely, and the whole thing protects my pen from bumps and scratches when I’m on the move. And of course, it’s pretty, which is the most important thing. 😉

I ordered this pen direct from Nibs.com, so the nib was tuned by John Mottishaw before being shipped. Like my other Danitrio, it spots a soft 18k gold EEF nib, but since it’s still new, it doesn’t have as much line variation yet. The most interesting thing to note is that while both of my Danitrios write the same size width line (with no pressure on the nib), the feeling is completely different.

Writing with the Sho-Hakkaku is like gliding on ice–smooth and noiseless. Writing with my Takumi sometimes feels like playing around with a rounded needle–it’s smooth, but there’s still the occasional “poke” on the paper if you’re not careful. Looking closely, I can see that the tipping on the Sho-Hakkaku is actually rounder and fatter than the Takumi, despite the two having the same nibs. The side-nib view of the Sho-Hakkaku also resembles a rounded spade, while the Takumi is more angular. I’m guessing Mr. Mottishaw’s work is to blame here, and I thank him heartily. Both nibs write very well.

When I have more time in the future, I’ll upload more photos with writing samples. But right now, I just want to enjoy the snow day…and my new pen.

Sometimes the most beautiful things are startling in their sheer simplicity.
Sometimes the most beautiful things are startling in their sheer simplicity.

Convalescent

Takumi-san is sick.

I bought him brand new from a sale and wrote with him for a while, falling in love with the expressively soft EEF nib and shiny maki-e finish…

Everything seemed all right at first, until he started skipping ink. I remembering this happening in my old Danitrio (which I sold), so I went online and researched. It turns out adding a little ball inside the convertor to break up surface tension (and using wetter ink) was all I needed to do to keep flow going.

All’s well that ends well, right?

Well, there was something strange about the ink. Every time I unscrewed the barrel, I would see beads of ink sticking to the sides of the convertor. The OUTSIDES, mind you, where they would drip onto the paper and get all over my fingers if I wasn’t careful.

That wasn’t regular ink behavior.

So I switched to a backup Danitrio convertor. Same problem.

I tried an international cartridge next. Still leaking.

What was going on?

Last night, I finally had enough time to take my Takumi-san to the sink for a thorough washing. And what do I find when I return to my room, intent on drying him off?

Water pooling along the side of the nib housing unit. Perhaps this was the source of those leaks? And then I looked inside….

..and saw a crack. A distressing, long, wide-enough-to-be-seen-with-the-bare-eyes crack, right along the diameter at the base of the nib housing unit.

Strangely enough, while the majority of the crack is on the right side, the place where water is pooling is on the left. Does this mean I have 2 cracks in the nib housing unit?

And if this wasn’t bad enough, I noticed that my clip was a little crooked. So I looked closer and found….

Another crack. A tiny one, barely perceptible, at the top of the clip, upper right hand corner. I would have missed it entirely if ink hadn’t seeped in it during the flushing process. You can barely make it out in the picture above.

So in conclusion, Takumi-san is sick. And I am too—sick at heart, because this is only the second Danitrio I’ve purchased, and it’s been the second one with an issue.

Maybe I should have just looked to Nakaya for my urushi fountain pens, but….

I still really, really like Danitrio’s soft EEF nibs…