Posts filed under Danitrio

Danitrio Kama-nuri Kamakura-bori Blue Tame-nuri on Takumi Fountain Pen: A Review

Top Image.jpg

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

Every once in a while, you run across a pen that is so unique and so absurdly beautiful that you’ll do whatever it takes to own it. For me, that pen is the Danitrio Kama-nuri Kamakura-bori Blue Tame-nuri on Takumi (what a mouthful!) I honestly did not intend to buy another Danitrio. I owned a Sho-Hakkaku (reviewed here) that I eventually sold because I didn’t use it that often, and I found the soft stub to be too wide for my writing style (though I loved the feel of the nib). I told myself that if I found a Kama-nuri in blue, I would buy it.

Sure enough, Bryant, at Chatterley Luxuries let me know he got some Kama-nuris in, so I went to the site and looked. My finger was poised to click on the blue Kama-nuri when I saw a pen that dazzled me. I’d never seen anything like it before. Not only was it Kama-nuri style, it was more than that--blue diamonds were carved all over the body of the pen with carved black dots in the middle of each diamond. It was more expensive than any pen I’ve ever bought (I’ll just say it was close to $2000), and I told myself, “Absolutely not.” But then I thought, “What’s the chance that you’ll ever see a pen like this again?” So I bought it, and subsequently I sold a bunch of beloved pens to cover the cost. Was it worth it? You’ll have to read the rest of the review to find out.

Kama Nuri.jpg

Considering how expensive Danitrios are, the packaging is a bit of a disappointment. My pen came in a softwood box lined in fake red velvet. Unlike Nakaya, you don’t get a kimono for your pen, and although I never use my kimonos anyway, they are a nice touch. I found no paperwork or information about the artist included in the box.

Packaging.jpg

My Kamakura-bori began life as a black Urushi Takumi model. Then, the artist (Mr. Kazushi Kanego) applied layers of blue Urushi over the black. This was followed by more layers of black Urushi. Next, the artist hand-chiseled the diamond (or rhombus) pattern into the blue layer. Last he chiseled dots down into the original black layer. You can see the individual chisel marks in the macro photo below. Plus, you can see how thick the Urushi is in the second photo.

Chiseled.jpg
Thickness.jpg

The result is a pen that is both beautiful to the eye but also tactile: you can feel the patterns with your fingers. Plus, this is no machine-made pen. The patterns are imperfect because they are done by hand. This makes the pen all the more beautiful, and it is absolutely unique.

Patterns.jpg

The Takumi model is a cartridge/converter style pen, which suits me just fine. I’ve tried Danitrio’s eye-droppers and found them messy and unreliable in terms of flow (I may have just had bad luck). Sure, an eye-dropper holds more ink, but the converter is easy to use.

Converter.jpg

My pen has a gold-plated clip that is easy to manipulate. I prefer Danitrio’s painted clips, but obviously that wasn’t a deal-breaker for me.

Clip.jpg

The Takumi is a large pen, measuring 145mm/5.71 inches capped and 130mm/5.11 inches uncapped (Danitrios aren’t meant to be posted). Because it is made of Urushi, the pen is by no means heavy. It is comfortable in the hand (even though it is 16mm in diameter), and I experience no fatigue writing with it.

Uncapped.jpg

The #6 size, two-tone, 18k gold fine nib is perfectly proportioned for the pen. It has Danitrio’s distinctive fire logo on it. Unlike Japanese nibs, Danitrio fines are really closer to a western fine or a Japanese medium.

Nib.jpg

Unfortunately, my nib has issues. I noticed from the beginning that the nib was a bit scratchy and that it didn’t seem to write a consistently wet line. It’s been so rainy in Abilene that I had to wait quite a while for a day with enough sunlight to take macro photos of the nib. I discovered that the tines are misaligned, so that explains the problems I’m having.

Tines Misaligned.jpg

I filled my pen with Sailor Yama-Dori, which is a terrific color to match the blue on the pen. When the pen is freshly inked, the nib alignment is not as noticeable, and the writing looks pretty good. But after the first few sentences, the misalignment becomes noticeable and the ink no longer flows as smoothly onto the paper. Obviously, this is a major disappointment in a pen this expensive.

Writing Alternate.jpg

So, is it worth it? Well . . . yes and no. Obviously, a pen’s worth is completely subjective. Some readers might think this pen is rather ostentatious. Others might agree with me that it is amazingly beautiful and unique. But ultimately, what matters is what I think, since I’m the one who spent the big bucks to buy it. Considering the amount of time the artist spent crafting this pen, and considering how unique the pen is, I purchased more than just a writing instrument. I purchased a piece of art that no one else on earth possesses. True, Mr. Kanego may have created other pieces with the same design, but since he hand-carved them, each pen is unique.

Danitrio.jpg

That said, I am disappointed with the nib. While it writes adequately, the misaligned tines definitely detract from the quality of the writing experience. I will have to send it in to get the tines realigned and the nib adjusted for better flow.

Only a few pen dealers offer Danitrios, and Chatterley Luxuries currently has the largest inventory. If you’re interested in a Kama-nuri model (all of which are hand carved), I suggest you head over to Chatterley Luxuries soon.

(I purchased this Danitrio pen with my own funds (and sold a ton of pens to pay for it!))

Posted on October 26, 2018 and filed under Danitrio, Pen Reviews.

Danitrio Sho-Hakkaku Ki-Dame Tamenuri: A Review

(Susan M. Pigott is a fountain pen collector, pen and paperholic, photographer, and professor. You can find more from Susan on her blog Scribalishess.)

I've been wanting to buy a Danitrio fountain pen for a long time. I love their beautiful designs, and while I own several Nakayas, I wanted to try out a different Japanese brand. Joke's on me. Danitrio is not a Japanese company. They make pens using Japanese techniques and many (if not all) of their craftsmen are Japanese, but they are headquartered in Newport Beach, California. The company was founded by Mr. Bernard Lyn (read an interview with Mr. Lyn here).

Danitrio pens exude Japanese aesthetics. The pen I now own, the Sho-Hakkaku in Ki-Dame Tamenuri, is made of ebonite coated in Urushi lacquer. It is an octagon shape, and it is one of the smaller Danitrios you can buy.

I chose the Ki-Dame (yellow) color because (a) it was in stock and (b) it is very similar to Nakaya's discontinued Shiro-Tamenuri color. It is a rich red-brown over a yellow foundation which will show through more as the pen ages.

My Sho-Hakkaku is clipless, which suits me fine. I only use clips as roll stoppers, and the Sho-Hakkaku doesn't roll easily because of the octagonal shape.

The pen is simple and uncluttered–the only ornamentation is the artist's signature in gold and red kanji on one facet of the barrel. I love this small, beautiful detail.

The portion of the barrel where the cap screws on is black, and I like how that contrasts with the rest of the pen.

The Sho-Hakkaku comes with a big, gorgeous, ornamented #6 18K nib.

I opted for the soft stub because I heard that it was a delight to write with. And it is. The stub offers nice line variation without any pressure, but when you apply pressure the lines really pop.

The nib writes smoothly, and the feed has no trouble keeping up with the stub's ink demand even when flexed.

The pen is a cartridge/converter. I wish it were one of Danitrio's eyedropper pens, but the converter holds a decent amount of ink and is well made.

Like Nakaya pens, the Danitrio comes packaged in a soft wood box lined in red velvet. Unlike Nakaya, there is no kimono. In all honesty, I rarely use my Nakaya kimonos, but I missed that added special touch. The pen did come with a polishing cloth.

The Sho-Hakkaku is one of Danitrio's smaller pens. It measures 5.31 inches capped and four inches uncapped. The cap cannot be posted. The barrel width (0.6 inches) makes it fatter than many other pens, but it's not uncomfortable to hold (the grip section is .45 inches). The pen weighs only 27.5 grams so you don't notice its size at all, despite the barrel's girth.

The only negative comment I have about this pen is the purchasing experience. Apparently, ordinary people cannot order directly from Danitrio nor can they contact the company directly. I went through Classic Fountain Pens (nibs.com) to purchase my pen.

Unfortunately, it's impossible to know what pens you can actually order using the nibs.com website. Unlike Nakaya, there is no availability chart for Danitrio pens. Consequently, I had no idea which pens might be in stock for purchase. After searching through all the pens on nibs.com as well as on the Danitrio site, I tried to purchase a pen. This led to a long, confusing email exchange over a period of three weeks, during which the nibs.com folks mediated between me and Danitrio. All I wanted to know was which pens Danitrio had in stock. At one point, a nibs.com representative told me you "can't ask them too many questions at once because they get confused." Seriously? The Danitrio people get confused if you ask them which pens they have in stock?

In any case, it took a long time to place an order for my Danitrio, and that was for one they actually had in stock. If you order something not in stock, be prepared for a three to eight-month wait or longer. I think this girl needs some Zen patience if she ever orders another Danitrio. I drove the longsuffering people at nibs.com crazy.

As impatient as I was, it was worth the hassle. The Sho-Hakkaku is absolutely beautiful. I've read that some people think Danitrio's ebonite pens aren't as well crafted as Nakayas. But I'm completely satisfied with mine. It seems every bit as beautiful as my Nakayas.

If you like Japanese-style pens and are unfamiliar with Danitrio (as I was), you ought to check them out. Although you can't buy directly off the Danitrio website, it's fun to go through all their models, especially the $20,000 ones (none of which I will be purchasing).

My Sho-Hakkaku was by anyone's standards very expensive ($960). Danitrio does not make inexpensive pens, but neither does Nakaya. Expect to pay a premium for Urushi pens, regardless of the company.

Pros

  • A stunning pen in unusual colors.
  • Gorgeous, huge nib with multiple nib size options.
  • The soft stub is a fantastic writer offering smooth writing without pressure and wonderful line variation with pressure.
  • The kanji signature adds a nice touch to an otherwise unadorned pen.
  • The octagonal shape accentuates the foundation color of the pen and the Urushi makes the pen glow.
  • Almost weightless in the hand, making the pen comfortable for long writing sessions.

Cons

  • Difficult and confusing to place an order.
  • Some might not like the cartridge/converter system.
  • Expensive. Very expensive.
Posted on October 23, 2015 and filed under Fountain Pens, Pen Reviews, Danitrio.