Namiki Chinkin Yukari size Pine Tree fountain pen
Around 90 years ago, it was normal practice to use ebonite, a combination of sulphur and rubber, for the body of fountain pens. However, although ebonite showed tolerance towards ink, it had the shortcoming of changing colour and losing its shine over time. It was then, a specialist development team from Namiki co. overcame this problem.
They started using lacquer, a superior coating method called lacquered ebonite which created an attractive body and was tolerant to deterioration. Lacquer is a natural coating, processed from the sap taken from the sumac tree.
The undercoat of Maki-e fountain pens is black lacquer. This is lacquered to the body. Motifs are drawn by several types of brushes on the lacquer undercoat. Powdered gold is sprinkled onto the lacquer. A fine bamboo tool called Funzutsu is used in this process. After lacquer has been applied to the whole pen the lacquer is rubbed off with charcoal until the pattern appears on the surface.
Kokkokai are a group of Maki-e artisans formed in 1931 centered around Gonroku Matsuda. Even today, Maki-e artisans from inside and outside the company, who have inherited Matsuda’s will, are making lacquerware around Japan. Kokkokai or the name of the artisans have been inscribed on each individual piece of Namiki work.