From a culture that has revered the art of writing for more than a thousand years comes instruments that celebrate both writing and art. Where traditional techniques and modern innovations are fully realized in writing instruments that bridge art and technology, poetry and science, yesterday, today and tomorrow.
For the Namiki Collections, skilled Japanese artisans use the finest materials to create a line of writing instruments that look beautiful and perform flawlessly. We introduce Maki-e lacquering, a centuries-old technique in which multi-layered patterns are drawn on the barrel and cap with urushi - sap from Japanese lacquer trees. The hand-painted designs richly interpret scenes of nature in precious metals and lavishly colored pigments.
Other products feature 18 karat gold, sterling silver, lacquer or celluloid finishes, executed in styles ranging from the enduring beauty of the Emperor Collection to the intricate designs of the Yukari Collection.
However, superior craftsmanship is just the beginning. For as beautiful as they are, Namiki writing instruments are designed to be used. A precision nib and superior ink and lead delivery systems ensure an exceptionally smooth stroke and clean line. In every aspect, Namiki redefines quality in premium writing instruments.
For the collector and connoisseur, Namiki is a revelation. For the valued client, friend or family member, it will be the gift of a lifetime. For every creative endeavor, Namiki is the ultimate writing tool.
Lacquer Tree (Toxicodendron vernicifluum or formerly Rhus verniciflua), also called Varnish Tree, Japanese lacquer Tree, Japanese Varnish Tree and Japanese Sumac, is a species of genus Toxicodendron that grows in East Asia. The trees are cultivated and tapped for their toxic sap, which is used as a highly durable lacquer to make Japanese lacquerware.
The sap contains the allergenic compound urushiol, which gets its name from this species' Japanese name urushi.
This is done by cutting 5 to 10 horizontal lines on the trunk of a 10 year old tree, and then collecting the greyish yellow sap that exudes. The sap is then filtered, heat-treated, or coloured before applying onto a base material that is to be lacquered. Curing the applied sap requires "drying" it in a warm, humid chamber or closet for 12 to 24 hours where the urushiol polymerizes to form a clear, hard, and waterproof surface. In its liquid state, urushi can cause extreme rashes, even from vapours.
Products coated with urushi are recognizable by an extremely durable and glossy finish. Urushi lacquer has many uses; some common applications include, musical instruments, fountain pens, jewellery, and yumi (bows).
The cinnabar-red is highly regarded. Unpigmented urushi is dark brown but the most common colors of urushi finishes are black and red, from powdered pigments of iron and ferric oxyde, respectively. Urushi is painted on with a brush and is cured in a warm and humid environment.
Artistic application and decoration of urushi can be a long process, requiring many hours or days of careful and repetitive layers and drying times. The creation of a single piece of urushi art, such as a bowl or a fountain pen, may take weeks to months to complete.
Maki-e is Japanese lacquer sprinkled with gold or silver powder as a decoration using a makizutsu or a kebo brush. The technique was developed mainly in the Heian period (794—1185) and blossomed in the Edo period (1603—1868). Maki-e objects were initially designed as household items for court nobles, they soon gained more popularity and were adopted by royal families and military leaders as an indication of power.
To create different colours and textures, maki-e artists use a variety of metal powders including gold, silver, copper, brass, lead, aluminum, platinum, pewter, as well as their alloys. Bamboo tubes and soft brushes of various sizes are used for laying powders and drawing fine lines. As it requires highly-skilled craftsmanship to produce a maki-e painting, young artists usually go through many years of training to develop the skills and to ultimately become maki-e masters.
Maki-e is the most sophisticated of all lacquer techniques, designating a decorative operation in which the design is created by delicately sprinkling gold or silver dust over lacquer – usually black – while it is still wet.
Lacquer techniques vary from country to country and are based on the quality of the lacquer and the use to which the objects will be put. The three categories most representative of the lacquer arts are carving, inlay, and maki-e. The number of possibilities is almost infinite, and the invention of maki-e and its variations by the Japanese is one of the most remarkable marriages of technical mastery and aesthetic sophistication in all the history of art. This decorative technique developed very early in Japanese history. It matured as an art form between the eighth and twelfth centuries A.D., becoming the predominant method of ornamentation beginning in the seventeenth century and remaining so to this day. One of the greatest beauties of lacquer is that it can decorate the most precious of objects as easily as those used in everyday life. Lacquerware bowls and crockery have come down through the centuries, as have variously shaped boxes with all sorts of uses: document holders, tea caddies, incense boxes, paintbrush holders, inkwells, card cases, pill boxes, etc.