Dream Pen Kyoto Urushi Kotoiro
Embodying Tranquil Elegance
The Dream Pen Kyoto Urushi - Kotoiro Colors is a fountain pen that embodies the elegant beauty of Kyoto's nature and the traditional aesthetics of Japan through beautiful scenery of Kyoto. The elegant colored lacquering technique of Kyoto lacquerware is interspersed with authentic gold leaf Maki-e.
The lacquer, originating from the word 'Urawashii' (meaning 'beautiful' in Japanese), which symbolizes the highest level of beauty in the Japanese language, can be found throughout various regions in Japan. Among them, Kyoto lacquerware, with its 1200 years of history, stands out for its exquisite design, sturdiness, and durability, surpassing all others in these aspects. Kyoto lacquerware is particularly known for expressing the unique Japanese sensibilities of 'Wabi Sabi' through its craftsmanship.
The artist we teamed up with to develop the Dream Pen Ancient Colors was Megumi Shimamoto, a Kyoto maki-e lacquerware artist and lacquer craftsman of Kyoto Urushi.
The deep essence of wabi-sabi
Since its relocation in the year 794 (Enryaku 13), Kyoto has been steeped in history and nurtured culture. As the city known as the "Thousand-Year Capital," the Kyoto Lacquerware, which has been continually crafted in Kyoto, carries a profound taste of "wabi-sabi," a feeling of beauty in the imperfection rarely seen in products from other regions. This philosophy is exemplified by Sen no Rikyu, Kyoto Lacquerware boasts an unrivaled quality, particularly in the realm of luxury goods.
Kyoto's History, Culture, and Lacquerware
Kyoto Lacquerware, which began in the year 794 (Enryaku 13), has been continuously crafted in Kyoto by skilled artisans who inherited the techniques. It is characterized by thin and delicate wooden bases and has been used to create various items, including tea utensils, ceremonial items, furniture such as chests and display shelves, and tableware. Kyoto Lacquerware excels not only in its visual beauty but also in its durability. This is because lacquer inherently possesses excellent adhesive properties.
In the case of Kyoto Lacquerware, unlike other lacquerware that uses rice glue or other substances in the base process, it does not rely on such additional adhesives. Instead, artisans use a higher proportion of lacquer on the wooden base to enhance the inherent adhesive properties of the lacquer. This results in the creation of highly robust lacquerware. However, using a higher proportion of lacquer also means increased costs and more effort in the crafting process
The Colors of Kyoto: Kotoiro
The pens are adorned with vibrant gold foil scattered over the colored lacquer, expressing a serene and refined elegance. The first release includes three models: Kyoto Cherry Blossom (pink), Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine (vermillion), and Byodoin Temple (red).
KYOTO CHERRY BLOSSOM
Kyoto is home to numerous famous cherry blossom spots, including the cherry blossoms at Daigo-ji Temple, which Toyotomi Hideyoshi adored, as well as those at Kiyomizu Temple and Omuro (Ninnaji) Temple. We have captured the delicate expressions of these cherry blossoms in full bloom at these renowned places and reproduced them on the bodies of fountain pens using colored lacquer.
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine - Vermilion
Fushimi Inari Taisha Shrine, renowned for its thousand Torii gates, has been a place of worship for 1300 years. The vivid vermilion-lacquered main hall, constructed in 1499, is a nationally designated important cultural property. The fountain pen captures the vermilion color used in both the main hall and the Torii gates through colored lacquer on its body.
Byodoin Temple - Red
Byodoin Temple, a World Heritage site and national treasure, is a temple founded by Fujiwara no Yorimichi in 1052, centered around the Phoenix Hall, inspired by the Pure Land of Paradise. The red pigment of the Heian period, called "nishichi," has been reproduced and applied to the fountain pen's body using colored lacquer.
6 Steps of Making process
1. Kiji (wood grain) making
Kiji is the base of Kyo lacquerware. For bowls, the wood is used to make the bowl base (or hikimono base); for boxes, the wood is used to make the box base; and for curved shapes, such as kagae-wappa, the wood is used to make the yukyage base.
2. Lacquer Base Coating
The purpose of applying the base is to strengthen and beautify the finish, and the six processes of "kokuzou," "kijikatame," "nunokise," "jitsuke," "kukuri sabi," and "sabi tsuke" are used to firmly prepare the base and prevent it from becoming thin.
3. Shijitogi & Nakatogi (sharpening the surface for lacquering)
The surface is rough after the basecoat process is completed. After drying for at least one day, the surface is polished to a smooth finish using charcoal, and this process is completed.
4. Top Coating
The lacquer used for the top coat is removed by filtering it through a filter paper (koshigami). The filter paper used for Kyo lacquerware is Yoshino paper."
5. Knot lifting
This process removes dust from the surface. Dust is carefully removed using the tip of a bird feather shaft.
6. Ro-iro finishing
This is the process of creating the glossy surface characteristic of lacquer ware. The surface is carefully polished by hand. Decoration Kashoku is the process of adding decorations to lacquerware. There are three main techniques: Makie, raden (mother-of-pearl inlay), and aogai (blue shell). In the case of the Dream Pen Koto-iro, gold leaf is elegantly scattered on the surface.
Shimamoto Megumi, a Kyoto Maki-e artist and lacquer artisan, was born in 1988 in Wakayama City. She enrolled at Kyoto Seika University and was deeply moved during her chosen Maki-e class, realizing that her artwork became a tool itself. This experience inspired her to pursue a career as a Maki-e artist. After graduating, she furthered her studies at the Kyoto Industrial Technology and Lacquer Research Institute, specializing in basic lacquer techniques. In the year of her completion, she was awarded the Grand Prize in the Crafts Division at the Wakayama Prefecture Art Exhibition.
In 2014, she established the lacquer studio "Hyouboudou" and has since been actively involved in various projects, including her participation in the 2016 Mitsui Home's "Zen House" project. Shimamoto Megumi continues to thrive as a talented Kyoto Maki-e artist and lacquer artisan.
A workshop in Kyoto where craftsmen with expertise in lacquerware techniques work on a wide range of projects, from traditional crafts to interior design in architecture and even the latest projects. They create numerous products using natural lacquer.