I am sure if you are a regular reader of this online magazine, you’ll have seen the Namiki, Sailor and Platinum offerings and thought to yourself WOW that’s pretty… but I probably won’t ever be able to afford one. But what if I were to tell you, that there is a gentleman out there that can bring the beauty of urushi to your palms at a very affordable price? LIES, SLANDER I hear… nay my friend, let me introduce you to Garage Fountain Pens.
‘Urushi on affordable fp by a grumpy wooden pen maker. I am not an artist.👷♂️ Middle of nowhere in 🇯🇵 Drop me a DM. For dip pen @garagewoodworkingjp’ is what’s quoted on his Instagram. Of course affordable in the realms of urushi, tends to fall in the £300 minimum region. One may then consider these pens to be at this suggested price point. But no… the news gets better! A number of his pens are sub 100 pounds. Crazy right? And I bet you’re thinking, there has to be something wrong. Nope, nothing whatsoever. Think of this account as a loan ranger in the wilds of urushi, offering a craft to people who otherwise can’t afford the named brands of this world.
Of course, the level of finish is not the same as a Nakaya, but you know what? It has charm, it has character and I challenge anyone to buy a pen from him and not smile!
So now onto the pen.
Here is the Platinum preppy in a Midori Tamenuri and silver dust. This is not your conventional Tamenuri finish, because well.. silver dust. But what I do love about this application, is the approach to the design, in which I am sure Garage Fountain Pens would state “well I put some urushi on and I was happy”. The depth of this finish is kind of reminiscent of looking down from 1000 feet and watching a colony of fireflies dancing around, it’s a truly magical view and coupled with raden highlights, it really truly shines.
These design elements are realised on both the cap and barrel and without the clip on the preppy, the pen has a totally new appearance. One friend commented that she had never seen a preppy like this before and to tell the truth, neither had I till I bought it!
Overall this is a beautiful design, and the clip sawn off gives the pen an excellent minimalist look.
Now some may criticise that the grip section isn’t completed in urushi. But in some ways, it’s nice to have a reminder of the pen you own is indeed a preppy.
To summarise this pen, after many people have inspected the pen, it’s pretty unrecognisable from its initial pen silhouette. This just goes to show that you can at times give a pen, the emperor’s new clothes.
Garage Fountain Pen prides himself on offering low-cost routes into urushi. Now, low cost doesn’t mean ultra-cheap as some of his pens can go post 100 pounds, but for the likes of a preppy, you’re certainly not in that ballpark.
For my particular model, I paid around 50 pounds which was my first shock! The second was the amount of care and attention that was put into the packaging and the various other items that came with my pen. Now, I can’t comment this happens every time, but the inclusion of some urushi chopsticks and a bowl really added to the overall experience of ownership.
I have nothing but wonderful words to say about my dealings, but I get the feeling he won’t suffer fools! He’s certainly made it clear he appreciates people with general knowledge of urushi. So where does that leave one who has no experience? My suggestion is to read up. Understand that urushi is not a 1 week job. He does this out of passion and the time he has. So you could wait up to 6 months plus! Also, don’t try to rush him! Your pen will get done and you will love it for its charms!
What I find particularly interesting in writing up this article is that we are now seeing more and more craftsmen and women offering a diverse range of pricing and skill levels. This is mainly thanks to social media and the appreciation for the skill of the human hand.
Traditionally urushi pens have been out of reach to many and at times I feel some of the pricing can be a bit inflated. Now, I am not knocking the work or the skill of these artists, but a part of me feels there is a luxury tax that is associated with fountain pens. After all, you can buy beautifully lacquered bowls for about 200 pounds, bentu boxes at around 500, yet when we see this same application applied to a pen, we can be looking northward at 1000 pounds in the west! Of course, the gold nib adds to that price and I realise polishing a pen is much harder than a large object. But still, it’s great to see more and more people offering services at a more affordable price.
So can this urushi platinum preppy compete with the heavy hitters of this world? I think that’s for you the readers to decide. But I find as much joy looking and writing with this as I do with my Nakaya Piccolo featured below.