Chinkin is a technique where a special set of very fine chisels are used to carve a pattern or design into layers or urushi (lacquer). The indentations are then rubbed with sticky urushi and gold powder or foils are placed over it to fill in the marks made by the chisels. Sometimes colored urushi powders might be used instead of gold. Once they are applied the pen is often cleaned by a Japanese paper called washi. Traditionally much of this art originated in Waijima starting around the 13th century, but today it is produced in many Japanese prefectures and even other countries like China. As this is a carving technique at its heart, there is little room for error so quality work often takes many focused hours to complete.
Doing some research, I came across the Danitrio website that lists 5 chinkin techniques:
Ten-bori (carving by point): The size of points could be as small as only 0.1mm, and it is the
only way to make the surface for the design by chiseling points one by one.
Ten-bori no Bokashi (Gradation of point carving): Reducing the chisel points and changing the
space between the points to make the design with gradation.
Ten-bori no Henka (Variation of point carving): To push (Tsuki-nomi) or draw (Hiki-nomi) the chisel
from a point to carve various short lines in a small space.
Suji-bori (Line carving): Short or long, straight or curved lines can be carved by skillful craftsmen.
Katagiri-bori (Carving sharp curved or angle lines): Use a special chisel to carve strong contrasting
I find any of these techniques can yield some very stunning results. I would like for anyone with pens decorated with the chinkin to post some photos in this thread and share any thoughts on the art form – whether you like it or not. If you can add more nuances to the history of the art, please do so and we can make this thread into a learning opportunity.