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Urushi lacquer care and treatment... ?


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#1 TrevorML

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 07:02

I am soon to receive... with any luck, by the end of this week... my long desired Nakaya piccolo cigar kuro-tamenuri... after many years of drooling Posted Image at all of the fantastic pics of them here on FPN

what I would like to know... as I have never owned anything like this material in a pen before... are there any tips, tricks and pointers for the care and maintenance of the urushi lacquer finish... I would love to hear about both tradition Japanese methods, along with more contemporary approaches to this

As I understand it it is a somewhat hard and surprisingly durable material, but it is not "bulletproof", so is there a recommended way of cleaning/polishing them that will in no way degrade the lacquer...

cheers from Oz
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#2 SJM1123

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Posted 17 May 2010 - 07:25

I'll elaborate later as it is pretty late at the moment here. But here's the basics.

Keep away from ultraviolet light (i.e. direct sunlight, uv lamps, halogen lamps...etc)
Continuous exposure to visible light will alter color, transparency, and appearance. Store in a dark place to prevent changes (someone'll probably pipe up on this, but more later.)
Do not store the pen in an excessively dry or desiccating environment for long periods (i.e. fridge...less for pens, and more for tableware, but you never know)
Do not use abrasive cleaners or polishes, only use a soft cloth, dampened if necessary to wipe the pen (no simichrome, rouge, etc)

Basically, urushi can be damaged by ultraviolet light, excessive dryness, and abrasives.
Otherwise, you can use and maintain the pen the same way you would any other well made fountain pen

Have fun with your new Nakaya!
Ern.

by the way...what exactly do you mean by "both traditional Japanese methods along with more contemporary approaches..."? Care and maintenance of urushiware is no different between contemporary use and traditional use. However, if you're asking about restoration and conservation efforts, that's a different story....

Edited by SJM1123, 17 May 2010 - 07:33.

Check out the new Edison/Hakumin Collaboration: The Urushi Mina Project
To see more projects, or to inquire about a custom urushi pen, visit: www.hakuminurushi.com

#3 TrevorML

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 06:14

thanks Ern...

I sort of figured that you only really needed a soft cloth to polish it...

but interestingly I thought that the urushi was initially used on FPs by the Japanese. as a means of preventing UV damage/oxidation to BHR as I thought that I had read somewhere that there was a patent from the 1920's that somehow added urushi early on in the BHR production process to greatly increase the life of BHR because of its preservation properties...

other that a lightening of the colour of the urushi are there any other more detrimental effects on the urushi by the UV??

I guess what I meant by the traditional methods of care was something along the lines of the more esoteric ones... like maybe using the oil from camelia seeds, or 6 month old tofu slime, or some rare plant or animal to prolong its life, as opposed to say a modern practice of using say silicone (??) or some other high tech substance (not meaning that any of these can or should be used used... just mentioned for the sake of illustration)

#4 SJM1123

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 06:25

thanks Ern...

I sort of figured that you only really needed a soft cloth to polish it...

but interestingly I thought that the urushi was initially used on FPs by the Japanese. as a means of preventing UV damage/oxidation to BHR as I thought that I had read somewhere that there was a patent from the 1920's that somehow added urushi early on in the BHR production process to greatly increase the life of BHR because of its preservation properties...

other that a lightening of the colour of the urushi are there any other more detrimental effects on the urushi by the UV??

I guess what I meant by the traditional methods of care was something along the lines of the more esoteric ones... like maybe using the oil from camelia seeds, or 6 month old tofu slime, or some rare plant or animal to prolong its life, as opposed to say a modern practice of using say silicone (??) or some other high tech substance (not meaning that any of these can or should be used used... just mentioned for the sake of illustration)



The article you read about urushi and ebonite color change was from the Kamakura Pens website regarding Namiki/Pilot's first use of urushi on pens and patenting the material called Laconite. When processed as laconite, yes, urushi does help prevent oxidation of the ebonite. However it is a different method of application that involves impregnating the surface of ebonite with the urushi with friction (and heat caused by friction) on the lathe. I'm not quite sure about the mechanics/chemistry of laconite, but supposedly with this type of application, the ultraviolet effects on urushi and ebonite are significantly reduced.

However, urushi by itself, does not withstand extended exposure to ultraviolet light. Firstly though, all visible light causes a change in color, transparency and gloss in urushi (read this post summarizing a research article). Visible light however, does not really damage the integrity of the urushi film. Long exposure to Ultraviolet light on the other hand will irreversibly and severely damage urushi causing dulling of the surface at first, then crazing and flaking of the urushi film. Don't worry about brief exposures in the range of minutes, but I really would not recommend exposing urushi to ultraviolet light for anything longer than 20 minutes.

Lastly, nope you don't have to apply anything to the surface of urushi, oils, stinky tofu, silicone or otherwise. For tableware that gets frequent use, a treatment by a lacquer craftsman is recommended every couple decades, but I dont think that most pens would really need that treatment, at least not anytime soon. This treatment involves cleaning, re-impregnating the surface with lacquer and giving it a gentle polish.

Edited by SJM1123, 18 May 2010 - 06:40.

Check out the new Edison/Hakumin Collaboration: The Urushi Mina Project
To see more projects, or to inquire about a custom urushi pen, visit: www.hakuminurushi.com

#5 ethernautrix

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Posted 18 May 2010 - 06:34

I can pipe up about the durability of my Nakaya Desk Pen. It has twice flown out of my hand and landed three or so feet away onto the hardwood floor -- and there is no damage, no scratches, no dings, no marks. I don't recommend dropping your Nakaya, but I am reassured of its toughness.

And, yes, I am being more careful.

I love my Nakayas! (Two now, one on the way.)

Enjoy yours in good health.

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#6 TrevorML

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 01:58

@ern... thanks for the excellent detailed info and the link to the article... much appreciated indeed... I do not want to ruin Posted Image this treasure once I finally receive it

looks like I will be making a nice leather pouch for it... altho I was going to anyway... which makes me think of another thing... would the cut side of vegetable tanned leather, or even leather tanned by non-traditional methods, have any adverse effects on the finish... as far as I know there is generally no sulphur compounds used in modern leather production... just lots of heavy metals... and vegetable tanning only relies on tannins which my or may not have an effect on urushi...Posted Image

@ether... it is good to hear of personal experiences with urushi pens... I have heard that they can take a bit of a knocking... everyone usually just waxes lyrical about the beauty but not about them in actual use...

I will be carrying mine, rather than putting it on a pedestal in a UV blocking glass cabinet, for a pen to be truly enjoyed and loved it has to be held and used not admired from a distance... but I will take care of it like I do with any of my pens that I carry daily

on looking at your flickr site... the piccolo you have... it that a black one or a kuro-tamenuri ?? and have you noticed any changes in the urushi over the time you have had them as I noticed that the images were posted around 2 years ago so would be good to hear or see picks of the changes to the colour over that period of time or even longer

#7 SJM1123

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 02:03

@ern... thanks for the excellent detailed info and the link to the article... much appreciated indeed... I do not want to ruin Posted Image this treasure once I finally receive it

looks like I will be making a nice leather pouch for it... altho I was going to anyway... which makes me think of another thing... would the cut side of vegetable tanned leather, or even leather tanned by non-traditional methods, have any adverse effects on the finish... as far as I know there is generally no sulphur compounds used in modern leather production... just lots of heavy metals... and vegetable tanning only relies on tannins which my or may not have an effect on urushi...Posted Image

@ether... it is good to hear of personal experiences with urushi pens... I have heard that they can take a bit of a knocking... everyone usually just waxes lyrical about the beauty but not about them in actual use...

I will be carrying mine, rather than putting it on a pedestal in a UV blocking glass cabinet, for a pen to be truly enjoyed and loved it has to be held and used not admired from a distance... but I will take care of it like I do with any of my pens that I carry daily

on looking at your flickr site... the piccolo you have... it that a black one or a kuro-tamenuri ?? and have you noticed any changes in the urushi over the time you have had them as I noticed that the images were posted around 2 years ago so would be good to hear or see picks of the changes to the colour over that period of time or even longer


I haven't heard of any issues with leather cases and urushi pens. I'm sure you wont have to worry too much about it. And remember, the color changes involved with normal use and regular visible light are not necessarily bad things. Visible light on its own won't weaken urushi. Whether you like the color change or not is your opinion though, and I've heard both opinions from various people. In my opinion, some color change is attractive, especially with keeping in mind the Sabi aesthetic in japanese culture. :)
Check out the new Edison/Hakumin Collaboration: The Urushi Mina Project
To see more projects, or to inquire about a custom urushi pen, visit: www.hakuminurushi.com

#8 TrevorML

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 02:29

I figured as much about the leather... concerning the colour I should have qualified my queries in that I do not really see any issue with a change in colour for as you say the aesthetic of wabi sabi is something that is very much a part of urushi lacquer, and is an aesthetic that I very much feel for...

I guess I was more concerned about not wishing to do something that would greatly accelerate any deterioration beyond the normal.. the killing through kindness principle

Edited by TrevorML, 19 May 2010 - 02:29.


#9 ethernautrix

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 04:10

TrevorML, when I received my solid black Nakaya Piccolo in early June, 2008, I realized that I had ordered a too-fine nib. John (nibs.com) exchanged it for an XF quickly and painlessly. But I still didn't like it. I didn't realize the reason I didn't like it was that the nib was soft. So the pen sat in its box for a year. Then I tried to bring it into rotation, and the nib skipped as well as being too soft... but I still didn't understand the fundamental problem with the pen. I put it back in its box where it sat for another year or so.

When someone handed me his Piccolo to try at a Pen Posse at Flax -- he had bought his from another FPN member -- he praised the pen, said he always had it in his pocket, loved the nib, it was the only pen he needed. It had a firm medium nib, he said. I had my Piccolo, so it was easy to compare and realize the problem. I needed a firm medium nib.

I brought the pen to the LA Pen Show in February and for $40, John swapped out the nib, handed the pen back for me to try, and that was it. No further adjustment was necessary.

I LOVE this pen. It IS perfect. There are, you know, many perfect pens, and this is one of them.

Since the finish is black on black, I doubt I'll see any change. It is a gorgeous, glossy blackety-black black pen, with my name painted in kanji on the barrel.

I bought the Nakaya Desk Pen about a month ago, this one in aka tamenuri (red on red), and since I've been using it practically every day, I think I can see variation in the finish. I could be imagining it. In any case, I'll see the burnishing in use, as it is another perfect pen and in daily rotation for the foreseeable future.

I have two other urushi pens (also in daily rotation indefinitely), a Fellowship and a Komori. I don't know if I detect burnishing, even after much use, but dang! These pens are gorgeous! More perfection. (Smiley.)

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#10 TrevorML

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 04:43

I had been waivering/procrastinating ever since I joined FPN about the Nakaya piccolo... and it was not so much the price as they really are a bargain for a handmade pen, but I just could not make up my mind between the plain vanilla (black) version as I love black pens and this one as a cigar would be brilliant... almost pure zen in a pen form... and the kuro-tamenuri because is says quintessentially Japanese lacquer with it's ability to "age" with time...


and then an offer too good to miss came up on FPN and so I laid down the cash for the kuro-tamenuri... now I just know that I will be still hankering after the black one... damn!!!

#11 ethernautrix

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 05:04

I'll admit that I chose the solid black Piccolo, cos I'd heard great things about Nakaya but wasn't sure of them, so I went with the least expensive option, a week before Nakaya increased their prices.

Since getting the firm medium nib (perfection!), I wanted to get another Nakaya. I love the heki tamenuri, for instance. And then I saw the Negoro and had to choose between three different finishes. It was so hard! And then while waiting for the Negoro, I buckled to desire and ordered the Desk Pen, and it was tough deciding between the aka tamenuri and the kuro tamenuri. The kuro tamenuri definitely reminds me of my mother and her letter boxes; quintessentially Japanese. So I really wanted that finish. But I really like the red of my Danitrio Komori and wanted a pen that was red without any decoration. I think I would have been equally satisfied and happy with the kuro tamenuri as I am with the aka tamenuri, for slightly different reasons.

It's strange... these urushi pens... make me feel almost as if I could pare my accumulation to just these (plus the Negoro on its way and the custom Danitrio in the planning stages). I just really love the feeling of the urushi and the sound it makes -- the Danitrio Fellowship's cap, for instance, how it feels fragile and sounds dainty when I uncap or recap it.

I have many favorite pens, and I'm always oohing and aahing and extolling the virtues of them (and it's all true!), but these urushi pens are making me ignore my other pens. What's happening to me?!



I do still like my other pens, of course. I don't know when they'll get a turn in rotation again, though.

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#12 TrevorML

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 05:17

I know exactly where you are coming from... I probably have in excess of 250+ fountain pens ranging from really crappy beaters to my more expensive pens... Caran d'Ache Ecridor Retro, Franklin-Christoph 01 IPO that I bought as new... and everything in between and I will extoll the virtues of virtually each and every one of them... but I still tend to only have a handful in rotation including the 2 new ones... but now I have a strong feeling that the piccolo will supplant even these once it arrives (hopefully be the end of the week so I spend the weekend drooling over it) simply because of its minimalism

I understand about the nib issue as well... I like so many here searched for the perfect flex nibbed pen and have so many in my lot... but what do I prefer to use... a Parker "51" vacumatic, the caran d'Ache and Franklin-Christoph, Lamy Safari... all firm nibs tending towards the nail spectrum... probably since I discovered that italic is so much closer to my natural style of writing and the F-C 01 IPO is a medium italic bordering on fine italic... perfect as a daily writer

Edited by TrevorML, 19 May 2010 - 05:22.


#13 JDFlood

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Posted 19 May 2010 - 19:21

Trevor,

I have had a couple Urushi Cigars for a couple years. I have had one at work, for which I purchased a desk stand... and use it every work day. I have done nothing to it (save, maybe drop it a couple times). and it remains as perfect and beautiful as the day I recieved it. The desk stand was the best thing I have done for work. No, unscrewing pen tops. The Urushi is a very resilient finsh and the nib is world class. I like to do as little as possible maintenance. I think really great products should not require pampering... it doesn't. JD

#14 TrevorML

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Posted 20 May 2010 - 04:40

@JD... the desk stand one... has that experienced any noticeable colour change?

seems to be a resounding message that I can bounce it around the floor without any damage...Posted ImagePosted ImagePosted Image

good to hear tho that they are resilient... to a degree that is

#15 budopo

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Posted 31 August 2011 - 20:49

I don't mean to resurrect an old thread, but I just bought a Nakaya Neo-Standard in aka-tamenuri urushi. I'm wondering how much I have to worry about UV exposure (thus, this thread came up in my search). I just keep it in my shirt pocket at work, so it's under fluorescent lights all day (and some sunshine when I head out for lunch). The pocket protects most of it, obviously, but the top half of the cap is exposed.

I don't mind the color change (I probably would like it), but I want to avoid haze, cracking, less gloss, etc. Do I need to worry about this? Is there any way to help protect the finish? (I prefer the shirt pocket rather than a case just because of the convenience).

By the way, the pen is superb. I didn't think it would happen, but it's even nicer than my Sailor Realo.

Thanks in advance

#16 Poision Pen

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Posted 04 September 2011 - 14:50

This is what I am wondering about also, Bubopo. [Sorry, I started a new thread before looking}
Shirt pocket or leather case?
Nakaya Aka-tamenuri Long Cigar, standard fine two tone nib/ Nakaya Aka-tamenuri Piccolo, soft medium stub in two tone/ Nakaya Aka-tamenuri Neo Standard, medium cursive italic/ Sailor Pro Gear fine/ Sailor Pro Gear medium cursive italic/ Pelikan M800 extra fine/ 1954 Monte Rosa medium left oblique/ Nakaya Naka-ai, medium left oblique, Heki-Tamenuri.

#17 mbosaz

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Posted 14 January 2015 - 13:17

Hello,

 

Do you know where I can find information to distinguish the differences of the following:

 

  • Tamesukashi
    • Aka tamesukashi
    • Heki tamesukashi
    • Kuro tamesukashi
    • Shiro tamesukashi
    • Shobu tamesukashi

Thanks, Mariano








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