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Wanted to present my current stable of Stylo Art pens. 1. Akebono/bokashi chinkin butterflies 2. Dragon maki-e 3. Pine tree and cranes maki-e The pen bodies are exclusive to Stylo Art and are large pens being slightly bigger than a Namiki Yukari but are lightweight. I believe the base material is plastic. The akebono chinkin pen has an amazing Pilot #15 nib custom ground by Yukio Nagahara to what is called an N-point. It writes a super smooth and juicy fat line at about 45 degree that gets more narrow as the pen angle is steepened. It's kinda a cross between a Sailor Zoom and Naginata grind sort of, it's doing it's own thing really. The other two pens have stock (?) Pilot stub nibs, which be warned, are really more like cursive italics. Wonderful nibs but a little more demanding than a Western stub. All come with Paulowina wood boxes, pen sleeves, and CON-70 converters. Most excellent pens and more than fairly priced. Highly recommended. capped rotated_SON3728 by Ja Ja, on Flickr capped fan_SON3729 by Ja Ja, on Flickr uncapped_SON3731 by Ja Ja, on Flickr writing sampe by Ja Ja, on Flickr
Some time ago, I bought a Stylo Art pen. I think it's a Shirane Honshu model (at least, it looks very similar to the photo on the Stylo-Art website), but I bought it second hand and no longer have a record of the model. I find it beautiful - enough so that I took a chance on the pen - and to date it is my only urushi pen. The problem is the nib. Or rather, an incompatibility between the nib and me. The pen is fitted with a single-tone 21K Sailor H-F nib and, try as I might, I just cannot love it: it writes too fine a line. I know I like the Sailor Medium, so the obvious thing would to somehow get hold of a Sailor M nib and fit it to the Stylo Art pen (or else go the other way and fit something like a Music nib). So, here are my questions: Do I need to know anything special about the kind of Sailor nibs that Stylo Art uses? I assume that they are standard Sailor nibs, but is that right? And I assume they are friction-fit, but is that accurate? Would any other kinds of nib fit? If nobody can help, I'll simply try pulling and replacing the existing nib when I do manage to find a substitute nib. Responses gratefully received, particularly if it helps prevent me from inadvertently destroying anything.
http://i.imgur.com/WIYALJz.jpgStylo Art Karuizawa Karuizawa, about 80 miles from Tokyo, is a small town nestled on the slopes of Mount Asama, an active volcano (because: Japan). Famous for its jams and honey, you could be forgiven for thinking this green, leafy, sleepy, place was outside of time and far removed from the world, but its fingerprint on history is larger than its diminutive size: it is the only place to have hosted events at both summer and winter olympics (Tokyo 1964, and Nagano 1998); welcomed Yoko Ono, Jon Lennon and family every summer; was where the current Emperor of Japan met his wife (playing tennis); and was the location from which was sent the telegram ending WWII. Less momentously, my own family history runs long through Karuizawa. This was where my grandparents bought a house in the 1940s, where my mother and her siblings ran through the shaded gardens as Tokyo scorched beneath the scalding summer sun. My own children now play on that same moss, beneath those same trees, and so when I heard about Stylo-Art, a small pen-maker crafting their own creations in such an emotionally resonant location, I knew I had to visit. Motoshi Kazuno and I first tried to arrange a meeting 18 months ago, but Karuizawa is noticeably less in demand as a ski resort than as a summer retreat, and the Kazunos were away visiting relatives. Time passed, and this week I was finally able to make the 30-minute journey through the mountains to the hamlet Motoshi and his wife Shuko call home. Anyone familiar with Japan will understand that this was not a simple undertaking - the address (a series of concentric zones culminating in a radius of a few blocks) dropped me in a semi-rural jumble, and it was only thanks to the photograph of the house kindly sent me by Shuko that I managed to stumble on the little plot and two-story building. I pulled my car onto their driveway (or perhaps their lawn), and waited for a sprightly, deceptively young man in a grey t-shirt to wander out to investigate. This was Motoshi Kazuno, Mr. Stylo-Art himself, and his welcome could not have been warmer. http://i.imgur.com/PkJ0iHB.jpg The 'showroom'. I was invited in and, over iced green tea, learned of Motoshi's progression to pen-maker from salary-man in Tokyo, via existential angst and a short spell in carpentry. With great and well-placed pride he described how he had built, by hand, the home we now sat in as all the while, Shuko looked on with great affection. It is clear that she holds her husband's work in high esteem. http://i.imgur.com/CaQomtx.jpg Shuko and Motoshi Kazuno, and their wood collection. Throughout the living room were scattered trays of pens (most, apparently, being prepared for the upcoming San Francisco pen show) in a rainbow of colours and textures - woods and urushis - clean and ink-stained ("this one is washed with pilot blue black") - as well as maki-e work from "friends" in Wajima and Naoshima. I was led out to the workshop to see the array of woods neatly organised, the lathe and work-table, the frankly indecent collection of drill-bits ("my obsession") and was talked through the three days of work that leads to a completed pen. http://i.imgur.com/RmxWExL.jpg The worktop (and a very few of the vast collection of drill-bits). I must admit that, having browsed Stylo-Arts website, I was unmoved. All the pens seemed flat and lifeless, lacking any delicacy or soul. Nothing could have prepared me for the reality though, for the finished items are impeccably crafted with true care and attention, and each and every wood and embellishment has a unique character - a character carefully enhanced by Kazuno-sans respectful diligence. http://i.imgur.com/QZAdNKB.jpg Ink-stained and urushied pens (the ink used is for fountain pens, among them Pilot Blue-Black and Iroshizuku Momiji). http://i.imgur.com/TDM2oNp.jpgMore ornate urushi. http://i.imgur.com/AITjRAK.jpgMaki-e from Wajima and Naoshima (central two). I fell in love with so many, but he urged me to hold and study each one individually and at length, to feel the weight and density of the material, to explore the depth of the pattern, the way it reflected or absorbed the light, even to raise each pen to my nose and inhale deeply. Over time, I managed to cull from the many to the few. It was the scent that finally swung me - Japanese cedar, light and delicately veined, its gorgeously pungent aroma reminiscent of the tatami mats of my family home, and of long, hot, steaming Japanese baths as the snow falls beyond the window. http://i.imgur.com/z6Ed8w6.jpg My own shortlist. Note: the elastics denote different nib housing - grey for Pilot, red for Sailor 21k. The third from the left would become my pen. Although Motoshi-san crafts pens to accept Pilot, Sailor and Platinum nibs, since Nagahara-sans death it has become increasingly difficult to purchase Sailor nibs in any meaningful quantity. My pen required a Pilot, and so Motoshi pulled from his desk a collection of no. 5, 10 and 15 nibs, and we proceeded, as the sun lowered in the sky and a faint rain fell upon the roof, to whittle them down to a no. 10 FA that he expertly smoothed and coaxed to my hand. It was with this pen that I wrote a quick note in the Stylo-Art visitors book, and learned, with some surprise, that I was the first gaijin (foreigner) to ever make the trip and meet Motoshi and Shuko in their home. The honour was entirely mine. http://i.imgur.com/XbV814R.jpg Motoshi working on my nib.