Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Maki-e Pen Meet

A friend of has bought a Namiki Snowy Egret and wanted to compare with my  years old Snowy to see what's the difference.

As we know, maki-e pens are hand painted. Differences are expected. But what is the different between pens that are 7 years apart? Any correction made to improve the painting?
We will find out.

On first look, the most noticeable difference is the white paint on the egret. I knew something has changed when I took it out to take pictures for this blog a few months ago. It's don't look as pristine white as it used to be. Some of the white paint has faded! It can't be. It has been left in the box untouched most of the time and never being touched with bare hand.

Urushi white lacquer are known to fade overtime. As we can see, the faded portion are on the top of the raised lacquer. I think the white lacquer is thinner there.

To resolve this problem, some maki-e artist use egg shell to create the picture. The technique is called Rankaku. However, you can't create taka maki-e with this technique. Another method is to use powder egg shell. but I've never seen any example of it.

Other difference we found is the amount of gold dust used. The newer pen use less gold dust on the barrel and pen cap.

Is the artist trying to cut cost? We know the price of gold has increased. But on the luxury pen I don't think the amount of cost saving is significant. Or is it an improvement? The painting don't look much nicer with less gold dust. Maybe the difference is common on hand painted pens. We won't know until we have another pen on hand to compare.

Another difference is on the bird feathers. That I can say is due to hand painted job.

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