For quite some time now I have been looking high and low for someone willing to take up the mantel for completing custom urushi work and when I say custom work, someone that would be able to work on my designs. Typically speaking in the past this is something many urushi artists have not entertained.
This journey was spent mainly on Instagram where a lot of urushi artists and artisans have been upping their game of late. Certainly, covid has been instrumental in getting Japan on the map!
However, after a few months of searching, I came across a lady by the name of Yukari Mochizuki (link here https://linktr.ee/yukari_mochizuki1987). Her work really stood out from a lot of people, in imparticular her impressive portfolio of Raden work and Maki-e. So I asked on the off chance whether she’d entertain the idea of doing custom work to my design. After many conversations, she agreed but did fairly warn me that it’s not a technique she was used to.
The design below is based on an Eboya Hakobune medium size.
Specifications for the pen were as follows.
- Kin Bokashi on both finials
- Togidashi burnishing all over
- Raden pieces splattered throughout the pen
If you’d like to see more on the making process of this pen you can see this link here http://makie-yukarim.com/radengold-togidashi-makie/ where Yukari goes into great depths on the creation. However, I will include a few photos below of the creation.
So this was a unique experience. I knew that the pen wouldn’t come with a box, as custom eboya’s for urushi usually come bubble wrapped. So I needed a solution! Fortunately, Yukari had a few ideas! Yamada Shunkei produces the most exquisite lacquered boxes! The yellow highlighting really gives these boxes a wonderful warmth and when you see the price, you won’t blame me for picking one up!
To wrap the whole thing together, I opted for a furoshiki from https://www.musubi-furoshiki.com/ this company produces a whole range of furoshiki’s in both cotton and silks. I opted for a cotton version in red and white, to add to the whole harmonious feel of the presentation.
Lastly is the incredible pen sleeve. This pen sleeve is made from vintage kimono fabrics and features the most charming Raden stopper!
Yukari’s mother is in charge of producing these and one special feature is that the inside of the cloth will polish your pen each time you remove it from the case. As of writing this review, Yukari has 5 left! These cases fit pens of all sizes.
Yes, these items cost me extra on top of the pen, but the presentation really brought it home! And I don’t know about you, but the presentation is key for me. I’d love to know your opinions on the presentation of pens down below.
One of the fantastic aspects of ordering a pen via Eboya is the specification of single or multi-start threads. For this design I opted for a single start, just to see how quickly you can uncap it. I was most pleasantly surprised! Despite it only being a single-threaded design, it is extremely quick to access the pen.
Eboya also offers a vast array of designs, both with or without clips and offers most designs in small medium or large sizes! Probably one of the more diverse pen makers out there.
Now, my pen was intended for Maki-e work, so I opted for no clip. Yes, this does impede a little on practicality, but you do get to see the beautiful work uninterrupted.
The section and length of this pen is perfect, it’s not overly long and is made from ebonite giving the pen a really light touch in the hand. Perfect for longer writing sessions! Some people may dislike the lightness, but to be honest there are not many materials better suited to doing urushi on!
Speaking of ebonite, there are no metal parts to the inside of this pen, so if you wish, you may eyedrop the barrel, giving yourself a huge volume of ink. It’s just a shame they no longer produce the shut-off valve.
Okay, the design of this pen was my design, so I am not entirely sure how to comment on this section! But I will talk about my inspiration and thought processes.
For the longest time, I had wanted a piece made with Raden. So I knew this was going to be the starting point of my design. I also wanted to keep this a relatively simple design without being overly complex. So I then decided that perhaps the bokashi could be an elegant highlight. In hindsight, I may have wished to extend the gradient on the barrel, but I am happy with what Yukari produced.
So why Eboya? Simply put, price, construction quality and general aesthetics. The fact that they have such a diverse range of pen shapes and sizes really sold it to me.
This design is a concept on which I hope to expand into doing seasonal designs on. So do look out for more in the future!
In terms of the inspiration, I love the night sky and whilst this theme is nothing new in pens, I really wanted something to reflect the idea of the sun rising through the night. Hence the Kin Bokashi technique. In future designs I plan on elaborating this design with other elements.
As for the Raden, I really wanted something that would catch the eye and twinkle, but there are times in which I feel this technique can be over done. So, this is why I opted for the less is more approach.
I will of course be doing more pens with Yukari in the future and there will be this constant theme throughout. Although I am somewhat tempted to do a silver gradient too.
Writing and Drawing Experience
All Eboya pens are fitted with a 14k bock nib. So the writing experience will be well tuned, be it a bit generic. My recommendation would be to have someone like CY from Tokyo Station pens do a custom grind!
For me, the writing experience is a bit bland, but I was already expecting that. By bland, I mean there is no real bounce or character to the nib. This is by no means a bad thing and I am sure there are those out there that will love these nibs. I think if Eboya was to make any improvements, this would be the area. Maybe a nib customising service would be an added benefit?!
This nib performs slightly above the fine designation, but it does allow you to see the characteristics of ink shading!
Well, what can I say? Despite my rather negative feedback on the writing experience, this pen really is a joy. From design to final product, this took around 3 months. That is including the time for Eboya to make the pen. If you are curious to see the making process, please visit yukari’s blog and you can see the full process there. It also helps that Yukari is extremely passionate about her craft and with her English being so good, it made for very easy communication.
Yukari’s finishing of the pen is absolutely fantastic. Each abalone shell shard has been hand placed for optimum finish and the smoothness of the finish is sublime. This really pleases me, because I have seen some pens that look a little to textured for my liking. Her work on the bokashi is also really something else and in time the suns will get brighter and brighter!
To sum this all up, this pen cost less than most mid tier pens and really provides some fantastic eye candy and despite the rather generic writing experience of the bock gold nib, it does perform excellently in all tasks.
My final thoughts are, book Yukari now.. I can see her waiting lists will be going sky high!