Some of you no doubt recall my reaction when I received my first Nakaya pen, the luscious Blackish-Red / Kuro-Tamenuri Cigar Piccolo. To say I was thrilled is something of an understatement. For me, the Piccolo is the perfect pen - so of course I had to have another. Earlier this year I had an idea in mind for my second Piccolo, so I contacted Nakaya and began to work with the lovely Yoko Kono. Yoko and I exchanged a few enjoyable e-mails each week, and after a few weeks my order was finalized and confirmed. Toward the end of September my pen was finished, the process having taken about twelve weeks to complete.
My favourite colour is Green, or more specifically Olive Green, and I had decided that a pen of this colour would be quite splendid. I asked Yoko if a color finish based on my specifications would be possible, and I was informed that although Nakaya had not ever made such a color, they would enjoy the challenge!
What I love most about the Piccolo is the shape; it is so strong, the visual design is so beautifully balanced - every contour carries the mirror-like Urushi finish perfectly.
Green seems to be one of those ‘iffy’ colors that people have strong reactions to… so I expect that the color of this pen will appeal to a limited audience. For now, the color of my pen is close to Heki-Tame - but not the same. Heki-Tame is a blue-green base while my pen has a yellow-green base.
This is an extremely difficult pen to photograph, so I have included a photo from Nakaya to correctly portray the coloring. The white balance is all over the place in my own images!
My Piccolo. (© Nakaya Fountain Pen)
For my pen, I had the choice of a Green Urushi or a Green Tamenuri finish. I chose the Tamenuri finish, the difference being:
- Green Urushi – An olive green-colored Urushi lacquer would be specially mixed and then layered onto the ebonite pen body. Clear Urushi would be applied as the final coats. This finish is uniform and almost static, with the color hardly changing over time, except to become slightly brighter.
- Green Tamenuri – An olive green-colored Urushi lacquer is applied to the ebonite pen body as the base color, this is then layered over with dark brown Urushi lacquer. This finish is dynamic and will change quite dramatically by becoming much brighter over time as the brown Urushi becomes translucent, eventually allowing the olive green base to show through.
The Grip Section
Next, Yoko and I discussed the grip section of my pen. I decided on the pretty-yet-understated “Hagi” or Japanese Bush Clover (Lespedeza) motif, applied using the Yakoh-nuri technique.
Writing is extremely comfortable, with the leaves providing a gentle gripping point for my fingertips. The tiny details in each leaf are beautifully and very finely done.
To enhance the grip section motif, I requested a small sprinkling of fine gold powders. I think this subtle maki-e accent compliments the overall appearance perfectly.
For this pen, I chose the 14K Elastic Super Extra Fine / Needlepoint nib. My first Piccolo has a firm Extra Fine nib which is ideal for my daily use, as I take that pen to work with me a lot. For this second Piccolo I wanted something different, and I’m very glad I chose the Elastic SEF.
I have read many things about the Nakaya Elastic nib, and after I had decided to get one I made very sure not to allow myself to make any assumptions about the nib performance or to have any expectations concerning flexibility.
There were no problems with my nib out of the box – the line width was deliciously super-fine, the flow was perfectly balanced and writing is a pleasure - my SEF is flawless. I didn’t want much variation from this nib, as my tiny and odd handwriting style is not suited to flexible points, so I was very pleased to discover that the Nakaya Elastic nib is very much more about the feeling while writing - rather than the line variation and flexibility, which is just a bonus.
Normal writing with this nib is a very enjoyable and bouncy experience! When I write, almost the entire nib gently bends and curves – but the tines do not separate. When I apply more pressure, the nib simply curves more and more – the tines only separate when I exert considerable (to me) pressure. A small writing sample is linked below:
Rhodia 5 x5 Graph paper, J. Herbin Lie de Thé ink.
I was asked whether I wanted my Elastic SEF nib cut from a regular Super Extra Fine or to be made from the Soft Flexible Fine nib. For a smooth sensation it was suggested that my Elastic be cut from the regular SEF, and for a soft sensation it was suggested the Soft Flexible Fine be used.
The most difficult decision to make about this pen was whether to get the two-tone (14K yellow gold with rhodium mask) nib or the single-tone (14K pure yellow gold) nib - cost not being an issue. I love the look of the two-tone nib on my Kuro-Tamenuri Piccolo, but each time I decided to go with the two-tone nib, something always drew me back to the yellow gold nib.
I finally decided that because of the overall warm tones already dominant in the pen, that understated and simple was the best choice. I also felt that the visually-striking two-tone nib would compete with rather than enhance the grip section decoration.
When I discussed maki-e naming with Yoko, I was presented with two options for my name: the origin of my name (which is Laurel), or the phonetic translation of Laura. Each consists of three characters, and each looked very nice, but I eventually decided to go with Laurel. These characters suit the simplicity of my second Piccolo and provide a striking visual balance.
The personalization is traditionally placed on the back of the barrel, but you can request it be placed anywhere.
Special Order Process
The special order process is very easy. It helps to have a very clear idea about what you want, and to then approach Nakaya about costing, technique and any alterations / tweaks to the final product. Yoko is excellent to deal with – she is very helpful and takes a lot of care with her e-mail replies. I look forward to working with her again!
I will continue to add Nakaya creations to my collection, and feel truly lucky to be able to own such stunning items.
Edited by Phthalo, 21 July 2008 - 11:34.