By Mike Stevens
Namiki's latest maki-e offering is a long awaited series depicting many scenes, rendered in exquisite detail by some of the most skilled craftsmen of this art form. These pens are not going to be for everyone, like any exclusive artwork, the price tag is not a small one! However for lovers of maki-e, or just those who appreciate artistry, that price tag might seem very reasonable indeed.
Maki-e is a long standing traditional art form practiced in Japan, and has been used on many different surfaces, everything from bowls and platters to sword scabbards. And pens, of course, although this use came about later.
Maki-e begins with urushi lacquer. In fact, pens are made finished in solid color urushi lacquer, and no further adornment. This lacquer has several attributes which make it particularly desireable from the standpoint of a pen's finish. It's glossy, durable, and more importantly, it has a warm, organic feel in the hand that makes writing with it a pleasant experience.
Creating a maki-e design like these requires a great deal more than simply coating the pen with lacquer, however. The design is drawn in on the wet lacquer, and gold dust is then applied using very small, fine brushes to create the design. On some versions, inlaid designs are created using mother of pearl, gold, or other metals. The size of these pieces range from tiny to practically microscopic, and the level of craftsmanship required is amazing.
After drying, another layer of lacquer is applied, and so on and so forth. The creation of a pen like these requires a huge investment in time, effort, and knowledge, all three of which are expensive. Suddenly that price tag doesn't seem quite so high! As you might imagine, the production of these pens will be fairly limited, if for no other reason than due to the time required to create each piece.
The pens themselves are everything you might expect of a Namiki. Cartridge converter fill, with the legendary smooth nibs that Namiki is famous for. Quality is first rate, as befits a pen at this price range. Of course, a large price tag is never a guarantee of quality in a pen, so it's nice to see the idea of a pen being both a work of art, a limited edition, and an actual writing instrument being carried forth by Namiki!
They are what would be best described as "mid sized", in the same range as the Montblanc 146 or Pelikan M800. Large enough to have a serious presence, and to show off the artwork on cap and barrel, but not so oversized as to be cumbersome in either the hand or the pocket.
As we said, these pens won't be for everyone, but we're pretty sure that most anyone will be able to enjoy the beauty of the artwork! Please be patient while the iamges load. (There are quite a few!)