It’s as long as its name implies, and the box is grand and as commemorative as can be.
The elder Nagahara boldly went where no nibmeister had gone before. He was the architect of masterful nibs such as the Naginata Togi, the Naginata Concord, the King Eagle Emperor, and more. He retired last year, and personally oversaw the production of his retirement commemorative pen.
Sailor provides the pen with its own kimono. The fabric has a muted sheen and the bamboo accent is well-chosen.
Takenuri is “urushi mâché,” as Karlo puts it. The craftsmen fashion urushi so it resembles bamboo in texture, form and color. (Unlike the Sailor Susutake, which is made from carefully selected real bamboo.) Earlier takenuri releases from Sailor had ebonite bodies. This one is over resin.
The nib has Nagahara’s signature in place of the usual Sailor livery. Such a beautiful touch, and absolutely appropriate for the pen’s Naginata Togi nib.
My earlier discomfort with the Susutake — too big a step between the barrel and the section — is minimized here. This is a pleasant pen to write and draw with. The length makes it feel like a calligraphy pen.
I am in awe of the bamboo-ness!
Nagahara has no peer when it comes to nib imagination. This is the Cross Music Emperor beside the Naginata Togi.
Oh yes, the pen has a number. This is tastefully placed at the base of the barrel.
This is my first Naginata Togi (NMF) and I like how smooth and variable it is, and how it encourages ink to pool at the end of strokes. I’m really looking forward to trying it with different inks. Right now, it has Iroshizuku tsuki-yo.
I am so glad Aesthetic Bay had it on display, otherwise I wouldn’t have known it existed! It now joins my collection of Japanese pens, easily dwarfing everything else.
Thank you, Mr. Nagahara. I am grateful to own this small piece of your amazing legacy.
Chances are you like taking pictures of your pens almost as much as writing with them. I do. I even choose cameras based on how well they can take pen pictures and shoot pen video.
There is a wealth of references out there on how to take better pictures in general. Think of this guide as an idiosyncratic footnote. Pen retailers already have beauty shots of the pens they sell from the maker or marketer. These are well-lit, glossy, with no reflections of the photographer or the lens on the clip or cap band.
I am a proud member of the “look, I can see my face on the cap band” tribe. They’re our pen photos; the more personal, the better. What we write or draw is a part of our life story. The photos we take of our tools can help tell our story, too.
All shots taken with an iPhone 5. Macro shots with an olloclip. The occasional edit done with Repix.
Tip 1: Scavenge.
Pens are cylinders. They aren’t exactly the most exciting shape in the world. It’s important to find small props that break up the straight lines and provide an interesting context to the pen. I just grab them from anywhere around the house or office. In the picture above, the reddish-orange of a fallen santol leaf hints at the Eastern origins of a black Platinum 3776 Century. Below, a pebble and a glass ashtray from the seventies prop up a Nakaya tortoiseshell chinkin karakusa. I’ve used toys, bracelets, earrings, paper scraps, cloth, art supplies, mugs, gift candles, wooden trays… Pretty soon you’ll find yourself browsing garage sales for pen shoot props!
Tip 2: Natural light.
Most of us use our pens indoors. Pen shoots require a generous window, or a surface outside the house or office. If you have a professional setup, then you have much more control over when and where. For those of us who don’t, natural light is the easiest available source.
The shot below is straight from the iPhone. A Bexley Imperial in purple ebonite (which I call ubenite, a term my Filipino readers will get) sits inside a scavenged capiz bowl. The capiz acts like a reflector, brightening the scene.
Natural light is a demonstrator’s best friend. You capture details of ink and pen, with a balanced sharpness.
Tip 3: Go closer.
If you love taking pictures of your pens, you need a macro lens, or a simulation thereof. So much of the craftsmanship we want to share with others lies in the pen’s details.
Here, you can see the fine, fine lines left by the machine that shaped titanium into a pen.
A master’s signature gracing a nib, the symbol of a lifetime’s work.
The splash of ink inside a demonstrator.
Tip 4: Assemble a cast.
One pen in a photo is characterization. More than one adds tension. At the minimum, you wonder why those two together? The tension can be relieved by a caption, or left for the viewer to resolve.
There’s a story in here somewhere.
Tip 5: Play.
There are so many post-processing apps now for both iOS and Android that it would be a shame not to play. Pen shots don’t always have to be realistic. Sprinkle in a flare or cartoonify a cap! The pen police will not come and get you.
A Nakaya Long Piccolo in araishu meets Retromatic HD.
Two Nakaya Piccolos, Popsicolored.
Nakaya Piccolo in titanium and blurry shot of leaves, through Image Blender.
Do you have your own tips for better pen photos? Do comment and share.
You have animated wallpaper!
I look at my iPhone 5 and become very sad that the wallpaper doesn’t shoot sparks or ripple with dancing koi.
Your keyboard can learn your typing style.
Not only that. SwiftKey lets you customize the height of the keys, save thousands of keystrokes, and change themes to suit your mood. There are other keyboards to download, but SwiftKey is far and away my favorite.
Android lets you see where your files are, and move them around.
Speaking of files…
You can actually Bluetooth files to other devices! I had forgotten about that. Before syncing to the cloud existed, there was brute-force local Bluetooth. Sometimes you just want to transfer a picture without connecting to wifi or launching an app.
You get Google Now.
Stay signed into Google and it will tell you what you need to know. How many minutes till home, the weather, good places nearby if you’re traveling.
You get Google Keep.
Keep your notes (text, image, audio) in a simple, Pinterest-like format. I am using Google Keep to write this.
How could you not want widgets? I like having recently opened notes in Evernote displayed on my home screen, not just the Evernote icon. Glancing at those notes reminds me what I need to do, something which looking at the app icon won’t trigger. Imagine how this works for a planner app, a task list, or the weather.
The mobile Humble Bundle is Android only.
Pay what you want for the Humble Bundle, a collection of great games (the last one included casual game stalwart Plants vs Zombies!) and donate to charity at the same time. These downloads require allowing your Android phone to install non-Google Play apps, which is as easy as unchecking a box.
The Kindle store stayed inside the Kindle app.
For some reason this is important to me. I don’t want to take the extra steps of firing up the browser and entering the URL and signing in to buy a book when I can just tap the shopping cart icon inside the Kindle app.
Sharing is hands-down better.
From almost anywhere within the Android environment, you can share and send. Tap the share icon or choose Share from the contextual menu and a universe of choices appears. Share to Twitter Tumblr Facebook Flipboard Wifi Bluetooth Evernote Kindle Pocket Dropbox WordPress? All there. No moving from app to app needed.
There are many apps on iOS that continue to make it a delightful, creative environment. But when you want to be more efficient and productive, Android might be the OS that fits you. (And! Animated wallpaper!)
They say a twist keeps things interesting. “They crash landed on…Earth.” “He was dead all along.” “The dolphins did it.”
If it works for stories, it works for pens.
Nakaya’s Decapod Twist displays the kind of craftsmanship that makes eyes widen in wonder. How did they do that? Does it hurt? Can you eat it?
The heki-tamenuri finish, with the spring green bright and fresh against reddish brown, emphasizes each line and thread, making the twist stand out even more. (Heki-tamenuri has natural variations. See Karlo’s Naka-ai beside this one.)
The pen has a “broad stub” or, more accurately, a broad nib ground into a medium-width stub.
This width means the pen can be a daily note-taker. And why shouldn’t it come out to play everyday? Urushi was meant to protect, not just decorate. For all its aesthetic appeal, this pen is built to be used.
My regular guests will notice that even the pictures have been given a twist, in honor of the subject matter. Pictures edited with Repix, one of my new favorite iOS apps.
Inevitably, the pen case collection grows along with the pens.
I prefer cloth and leather, lined. Wraps feel cosier than briefcases or zipped folders reminiscent of school binders. My old 40-pen case, after a good run, now rests in a drawer, several elastic loops stretched to unusability.
None of the cloth cases has escaped ink stains. Most of the staining happens when I travel. I have fished out dripping lever fillers from their slots, leaving a trail of ink spots on hotel carpet as I rush to the sink to rinse pen and case clean. (This works for cloth cases, but not for leather.)
My current favorite leather wrap is by Corbo. This is the same wrap Yoshida-san of Nakaya brought with him to the Singapore Nakaya pen clinic. So far, it’s stain-free. We ordered a pair via Rakuten and there was zero hassle involved.
Dark lining helps conceal stains. And flaps are essential. Friction can affect the finish of a pen, over time. The plating on clips can thin. I don’t go all precious on my pens, otherwise I would be too worried about keeping them pristine and end up not using them at all. Much better to give them some protection while they’re in the bag.
New to the collection is the Libelle wrap fresh from the recent Art Brown sale. (Thanks, honey!) The strap secures with velcro.
Longer pens like the Pelikan M800 are about as long as this wrap can handle. I like the nylon inside because it looks like it won’t care if Baystate Blue leaked all over it.
One of the wraps I carry most often is made by Nakaya. It’s beautiful. I hope I am not voiding any warranties by stuffing two to three pens in each slot.
May crocheted this pen wrap. She told me it was a practice piece but my practice pieces never look anything like this. I think she should go into business. There’s nothing better than a pen wrap from a friend.
It took me a long time between liking the Decapod and getting the Decapod. Much of that hesitation had to do with the initial discomfort my hand felt when I tried one for the first time. The facets were distracting.
Misgivings quieted when I saw the AO tamenuri finish. It was like arguing myself into a pair of wedges. “My ankles will snap. But those shoes are sooooo pretty!” Familiarity breeds preference, after all.
This Decapod's tiny conceit is its music nib, ground to have more line variation. The monotone gold matches the clip.
Resurrected thanks to Cyberduck and my memory which occasionally works. Here you go, Don!
Yes, we have enough music-nibbed pens to assign one to each color in Diamine’s music ink box.
Diamine’s music ink collection has ten colors, each named after a classical composer.
Most inks show off their characteristics better in wide-nibbed pens. These samples were made by dipping the nibs into the ink bottles, so the first laydown of color is darker than it would be in real-life use.
Each box has its own number, which the seller will refer to when you reorder a color. I think the first one to run out will be Handel. Or maybe Wagner. Thanks, Peter, for bringing Diamine inks to Manila.
Notebooks and paper are to pens what inhaling is to exhaling. I have my reliables: Kokuyo Campus (not the localized version, which has lesser-quality paper), Midori MD, Daler-Rowney Ivory. Kokuyo Campus lined notebook refills are locally available. My suitcase is heavy with notebooks every time I come back from Singapore. I wish I could find more Life Noble Note plain notebooks but the brand’s distribution is erratic.
So I’m always on the lookout for fountain pen-friendly notebooks and paper in Manila, even in the most unexpected of places.
Artwork is a happy crazy local tee shop that just happens to have notebooks. They’re called Artwork Doodle Books. The covers are silkscreened and the notebooks are tucked inside. I gravitated towards the skull, of course.
Inside is 135 x 182 mm off-white plain paper.
Fine flexible nibs will induce slight feathering, but surprisingly not too bad. Standard fine, medium and broad nibs will work. The paper won’t stand up to washes, but accepts colored pencil with grace. Don’t bother writing on the reverse side of the pages, as the paper lets ink bleed through even if it resists feathering up to a point.
We found this little green notebook in Dimensione, of all places. The shop sells small furniture and home accents, with an impulse table stacked with gift items, including notebooks. The paper has tooth and absorbs ink well.
This notebook also came from Dimensione, and it’s safe to say it won’t stay with me. A pity because the cover is so pretty.
On the paper front, I recommend Bevania Splendorgel, distributed by Premier Paper. The name amuses me no end. I imagine Bevania Splendorgel to be some kind of Valkyrie hipster on a flaming fixie.
It comes in three weights: 85, 170 and 270 gsm. All withstood the assault of my favorite flex nibs.
The paper is available in National Bookstore. The white variant’s good, but ivory is easier on the eye.
Have you had any serendipitous finds lately?
A little late posting it to the blog, I know.
For the curious, I used a Lumix DMC-LX7 to shoot, iMovie to edit.