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Review: Edison/hakumin Pearl

edison urushi ernest shin brian gray lacquer pearl hakumin

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11 replies to this topic

#1 rpsyed

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 03:23

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Edison Pens is one of the most well-known of modern American companies. The company, initially the work of penmaker Brian Gray solely, now has several employees. Together, they turn out custom pens and production pens in wild-colored acrylics and ebonite, and even celluloid, when it was available from American Art Plastics. Now, celluloid pens from Edison are made only when the rod stock is customer-supplied.

I got into fountains just about two years ago, and was quite immediately taken with them. Six months or so into my fountain pen journey, I bought a cappuccino Nouveau Premiere. The pen was well-made and beautiful, but was just too thin for me to use comfortably. I ended up gifting the pen to one of my penpals upon learning her birthday was coming up.


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After coming across photos of the collaboration between Edison and lacquer artist Ernest Shin, I was taken aback by how gorgeous the pens were. Eventually, I caved and made the initial inquiry to Ernest and my order was placed.

I went for the the Edison Pearl, in the Black-Gold-Clear Kara-nuri finish. The finish requires many layers and results in a stunning mottled pattern of black urushi, gold powder, and transparent light brown urushi.


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Edison/Hakumin Pearl and Lamy Safari.

This is a simplification of the lacquering process, but this is basically how the process works:
1. A few layers of raw urushi are applied and cured, then black urushi mixed with albumin (as a stiffener) it applied in a random pattern of dots and swirls on the pen. The stiffener in the urushi results in the pen having slightly raised dots of black urushi.
2. A layer of raw urushi is applied and 23.5kt gold powder is brushed over the entire pen.
3. Several layers of transparent, light brown urushi is applied, curing and sanding between each layer.
4. Then finally, the pen is sanded smooth and polished. The result is that that parts where the stiffened black urushi was applied is black and the gold powder shines through the urushi in the other parts. It’s really something to see and it’s impossible to capture it in photographs.

This finish was used for a limited edition Pearl between Edison and Hakumin Urushi in 2010 or so, and has long been sold out. Ernest agreed to make me a pen just like the LE, though my pen is only signed without the numbering. Edit: Ernest emailed to say that while the pen is Karanuri, it is applied differently than the LE.


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From top, Romillo Eo #9, Edison/Hakumin Pearl, Newton custom Gibby, Eboya Kyouka (medium-size)

After I ordered I was given an estimate of 6 months for the pen to be finished. Ended up taking around 11 months. While Ernest did update me on the progress of the pen when I asked, he was not very proactive about it, even when he was behind schedule. However, aside from the lack of proactive updates, I’d say the ordering/waiting process was pretty smooth and pleasant.

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Pearl slightly out of a Taccia pen kimono.

The packaging is the same as any other Edison, which is fine with me. I do wish, however that a pen kimono was included. I bought a Taccia pen kimono from nibs.com and the Pearl stays in that.

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Nakaya Piccolo and Edison/Hakumin Pearl.

Now to the pen: The Pearl, I’ve read, was inspired by the Nakaya Piccolo. Having the pens side by side, it’s very obvious. The peaked ends aren’t as severe and the Pearl is slightly longer, but major design points are present in both pens.

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From top, Nakaya Piccolo, Romillo Eo #9, Newton Orville (medium-size), Eboya Kyouka (medium-size), Edison/Hakumin Pearl, Danitrio Flat-Top Mikado

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Edison/Hakumin Pearl and Romillo Sil #9

The urushi models are built on black ebonite pens and everything seems as you would expect from Edison: smooth threads, tight tolerances, no play in any of the threaded parts. The lacquerwork is also first-rate and I love seeing Ernest’s kanji signature on the end of the barrel.

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Edison/Hakumin Pearl and Romillo Sil #9, both uncapped.

The nib is a standard 18kt two-tone Edison nib made by JoWo. In my case, a fine nib. This is where we first get to a disappointment. The nib was very smooth — which was the problem. It was so smooth, it had the worst baby’s bottom I’ve ever seen. A little scribbling would get the nib to write and it would continue to write as long as I held the nib to the paper. Lift the pen for more than a second or two and it was back to skipping.  I'm sure Brian Gray would have made it right had I asked but I was more disappointed in the fact that nibs being tested is used as a selling point and I can't see this pen as having been filled and tested. You literally could not more than a word or two before you'd get skipping and have to tap the nib onto the paper and get the ink flowing again.

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Writing sample with Sailor Souten ink on Clairefontaine Triomphe paper.

Normally, I wouldn’t feel comfortable enough to work on a pen in this price range myself but I figured I could buy a new gold JoWo nib unit from Mottishaw or someone else fairly easily should I mess up the nib. After an hour or so of very slow and very careful work, being sure to roll the pen as I worked to avoid flat spots, I managed to get rid of the baby’s bottom. Since that time, it’s been smooth sailing with the Edison/Hakumin Pearl.

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The nib was a bit of a disappointment, especially since the fact the nibs are tested is used so often as a selling point of Edison Pens, but I’m pleased with the pen and I would buy it again. Ernest’s lacquerwork truly is amazing and I look forward to seeing what kinds of designs and finishes he comes up with in the future.


Edited by rpsyed, 28 March 2016 - 19:48.


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#2 da vinci

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 08:36

Great review as always rpsyed and thank you for the pictures.

I have also been admiring the work of Ernest Shin. Your pen looks like a fabulous example of his craftsmanship, and re-incentives my need to have a pen from his workshop! The Pearl looks like an excellent base for the urushi.

Your disappointment regarding the nibs performance and the lack of a kimono is palpable and understandable. Notwithstanding the urushi work you are purchasing a high end fountain pen and for this $ you can expect it to function accordingly. Glad you could get the issue resolved.

#3 rpsyed

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Posted 28 March 2016 - 19:51

Great review as always rpsyed and thank you for the pictures.

I have also been admiring the work of Ernest Shin. Your pen looks like a fabulous example of his craftsmanship, and re-incentives my need to have a pen from his workshop! The Pearl looks like an excellent base for the urushi.

Your disappointment regarding the nibs performance and the lack of a kimono is palpable and understandable. Notwithstanding the urushi work you are purchasing a high end fountain pen and for this $ you can expect it to function accordingly. Glad you could get the issue resolved.

Thank you very much!

 

Oh yes, there's some incredible work that comes out of Hakumin Urushi.

 

The lack of the pen kimono wasn't too big a deal, but I was annoyed by the nib's performance. It should not happen at this price point especially when the nibs are supposed to be tested. Luckily I got it writing well, and it is a standard JoWO #6 so replacement nibs are easy to acquire.



#4 Drone

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 07:04

"...it had the worst baby’s bottom I’ve ever seen."

 

Wow, I'm very surprised to hear this. There is no way the pen should have shipped like that. It is a beautiful pen otherwise. Thank you for sharing.

 

David


Edited by Drone, 29 March 2016 - 07:05.


#5 rpsyed

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 07:52

 

Wow, I'm very surprised to hear this. There is no way the pen should have shipped like that. It is a beautiful pen otherwise. Thank you for sharing.

 

David

Agreed. It's possible they mistakenly thought the nib unit had been tested already when it hadn't. Luckily, I was able to get it fixed up. Thank you, and you're welcome!



#6 Doug C

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 15:15

I have one of the original pens that Brian and Ernest produced and I get compliments every time I use it.  Mine was a great writer out of the box as have all of my Edisons so I guess I am lucky.


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#7 rpsyed

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 20:49

I have one of the original pens that Brian and Ernest produced and I get compliments every time I use it.  Mine was a great writer out of the box as have all of my Edisons so I guess I am lucky.

Ooh, yeah, it's a stunning design. Ernest said my pen is slightly different from the original. He said the mottled pattern is slightly different on both and that the LE used 23.5 it good powder from France, while my pen had 24 kt gold powder from Japan.

I was surprised about the nib, too, but it happens, I guess.

#8 zaddick

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 23:19

Thanks for the review. It always makes me laugh a little when I see how similar our tastes in pens runs. I also have a custom pearl from Hakumin but in a green finish instead of brown. It's a lovely looking little pen, but I find it on the smaller end of usable.

I just corresponded with Ernest today and I think he is taking longer than expected due to a few issues. I was quoted 6 months for a project but after reading your review I will adjust my expectations to a longer time frame.

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!


#9 zaddick

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Posted 29 March 2016 - 23:24

One small suggestion for your reviews that I hope will not be taken as critical. You always have lovely comparison shots with lots of other custom pens for scale, but I think most of these are not familiar for the average reader. If you have more standard pens like the Lamy in shots it will help people more with the length and girth of the pen. Uncapped comparisons are also welcomed. I had a hard time trying to figure out if the pearl was large enough for me to use unposted until another kind member shot it next to a ruler and an MB 146.

Keep up the great work and buying such interesting pens!

If you want less blah, blah, blah and more pictures, follow me on Instagram!


#10 rpsyed

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 02:14

Thanks for the review. It always makes me laugh a little when I see how similar our tastes in pens runs. I also have a custom pearl from Hakumin but in a green finish instead of brown. It's a lovely looking little pen, but I find it on the smaller end of usable.

I just corresponded with Ernest today and I think he is taking longer than expected due to a few issues. I was quoted 6 months for a project but after reading your review I will adjust my expectations to a longer time frame.

Haha, yeah. I remember seeing a photo of the green-silver-black Kara-nuri Pearl in the Japanese pen thread. It's gorgeous!

 

Ooh, very exciting! If you don't mind discussing it now, what project are you and Ernest working on?

 

One small suggestion for your reviews that I hope will not be taken as critical. You always have lovely comparison shots with lots of other custom pens for scale, but I think most of these are not familiar for the average reader. If you have more standard pens like the Lamy in shots it will help people more with the length and girth of the pen. Uncapped comparisons are also welcomed. I had a hard time trying to figure out if the pearl was large enough for me to use unposted until another kind member shot it next to a ruler and an MB 146.

Keep up the great work and buying such interesting pens!

No, not at all! No offense taken! It's a really good point. My pen collection is pretty small but I should include a Lamy Safari or Pilot Vanishing Point in more of the comparison shots.

 

Thank you very much! =] I have two pens on order currently. A green celluloid Hakase due next January, and a Romillo Narcea #9 in green/black mottled ebonite due in late April. Alvaro agreed to do a one-off in a non-standard material for me. I am looking to add one more pen to the collection in the next few months before I start graduate school in the fall. A Nakaya Dorsal Fin V. 1, a Faggionato, or another Eboya, Dantrio, or Newton, are all in the running but I'm open to suggestions, if you have any.



#11 RobertJWarren

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Posted 30 March 2016 - 02:38

Better hurry on the Dorsal's....they are discontinued...


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#12 rpsyed

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Posted 31 March 2016 - 01:58

Better hurry on the Dorsal's....they are discontinued...

Yeah =/ ... luckily there's a few in stock at nibs.com but I'm still not decided yet. The Dorsal Fin pens are pretty darn cool.







Also tagged with one or more of these keywords: edison, urushi, ernest shin, brian gray, lacquer, pearl, hakumin



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