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Nakaya Urushi - Cigar Piccolo (Custom)

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CIGAR PICCOLO - Special Order Olive Green





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.



The Color


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.
I have no idea what colour my pen will be in a year, but it will be a treat as time passes and I gradually find out! :)



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.



The Nib


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.



Maki-e Naming


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

Laura / Phthalo

Fountain Pens: My Collection

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Laura, I'm so happy your new Nakaya Picolo came out the way you wanted. I'm sure you had quite some anxiety not knowing how it would turn out--what a relief it must've been to open the box and see that beauty before you. :D


I also agree with your choice on the nib. The two-tone would've pulled attention away from the section, which is already intricate. Solid yellow gold works beautifully. Overall, I think the winning touch is the section. You really came up with a nice custom design and Nakaya did a marvelous job crafting it. Congrats!


Just one thing--on my computer, your images are showing up as a reddish dark brown with a subtle gray/green haze. I have to imagine that since you said the pen is green, the images must be off. Could you try posting a few hue variations? How closely does the pen match to the mock-up you sent me many months ago?




Edited by MYU

[MYU's Pen Review Corner] | "The Common Ground" -- Jeffrey Small

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I'm breathless..... :drool:

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."

Oscar Wilde

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Exquisite! :clap1:

It is going to be so interesting to see how the colour develops, with the olive shades coming through the brown, as time goes by.

I'm sure it is going to bring you years of writing enjoyment and inspiration. :)


~ Manisha


"A traveller am I and a navigator, and everyday I discover a new region of my soul." ~ Kahlil Gibran

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That is Epic, I'm GREEN with envy. :thumbup:









Pelikan Souveran m805

Waterman Phileas, Black/Gold

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I...well, I... It is *stunning*! May you enjoy it for many years to come.


(Since I get my nakaya fix by living vicariously through you, would you mind posting 'update' photos of both your piccolos as their finishes mature?)

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Would you mind posting a writing sample?

"Anyone who lives within their means suffers from a lack of imagination."

Oscar Wilde

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Laura your pen is a true work of art! I bet you are ecstatic staring at it but i am sure once you put the nib on paper it all comes together!

Thanks for the wonderful review and pictures. May i suggest you take some photos of it as time goes by? It would be awesome to see the color changes over time


Nikolaos :happyberet:

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A truly amazing pen and finish. Now you have to wait and see if the pen turns olive in the course of time. Right now it still looks very reddish. Interesting that their flex nib has some scalloped cuts on the nib's margins. Never seen that design before.

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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.




For what it's worth, the three characters inscribed on your pen, which as you mentioned is the compound for laurel (or sweet bay)--Laurus nobilis--is pronounced 'gekkeiju' in Japanese. In Chinese legend (from where these Japanese characters originate), gekkei denotes a special tree that is depicted as being in or on the moon. 'Gekkei' also denotes moonlight, with all its muted, luminous associations. And since the bush-clover on your grip is a poetic symbol of autumn that dates back to the eighth century Japanese imperial anthologies, your pen appointments beautifully complement a pen that reflects what seems to me like the confluence of your own impeccable taste and Japan's most celebrated esthetic sensibility (the autumnal feeling of wabi).


What a remarkable pen!




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Very, very nice. I am pondering my next Nakaya as well and the further information about dealing with them on custom colors is much appreciated. As has been stated previously, the section work is beautiful and, along with the color, really sets the pen apart.

I know how much I love just staring at my Kuro-Tamenuri.... yours must be multiplied!


I may have to pick your brain more about the flex. I'm afraid I would feel as if I were spreading the tines when feeling the intended flex if that nib... it's good that you mentioned exactly that feeling. So, with the extra fine, and even with the flex, there is not enough line variation to effect the legibility of your small writing?


And, while not a huge fan of gold, except some on nibs, I have to agree that the two-tone nib would have detracted from the rest of the beauty of your new pen.


Excellent taste and beautiful pen.


Cheers, Dean

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Thank you for all your compliments! I really am enjoying this gorgeous pen! :cloud9:


In regard to the colour changing, this will happen quicker than compared to the Kuro-Tamenuri finish. The Kuro-Tamenuri finish has natural black Urushi laid over a red base, while the Heki-Tame finish has natural brown Urushi lacquer laid over the base colour - this brown Urushi will clear much faster than the black. Nakaya have indicated a few months or so for this.



Gary: The red-brown colour is mostly correct, though overly warm. See the first image for the most accurate color. The color actually went in a direction that is nothing like the mock-up I sent you...


Jim: Thank you very, very much! Yoko did actually explain [gekkai] [jyu] for pronunciation, but I had no idea that there was such lovely context behind the word Laurel. :D


Dean: I have an extremely light hand when writing, so YMMV... The legibility of my normal writing with the Super Extra Fine is not affected at all, and even when I speed up and naturally apply a little more pressure, then I only see the most subtle thickening in my down strokes. When I do want some intentional variation (in my initial for example), then I can create a line around 5x the thickness of the normal SEF line by exercising some pressure. I will try to make a writing sample... :)

Laura / Phthalo

Fountain Pens: My Collection

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I will certainly own a Nakaya some day.


Some glorious, beatiful, wonderful day.


Laura, great choices all around!

Fool: One who subverts convention or orthodoxy or varies from social conformity in order to reveal spiritual or moral truth.

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