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Last Updated 26/04/2020 15:34:18
From Subject - Books About Pens

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Maki-e, an art for the soul

The Danitrio Maki-E Collection

By Bernard Lyn

ISBN 957-9403-07-4

Publisher: Dani International Corp

Publishing Year: 2003

1St Edition

1St Print

Language: English

Book Format: Hard Cover

Book Dimensions: 19X26.5 cm

255 Pages



“The wonderful world of Danitrio Maki-e comes to life in this retrospective by Bernard Lyn. The art of Maki-e is a mystery in itself and dates back 1400 years. Bernard has a dream that his maki-e writing instruments and other creations will show the incredible workmanship of the few living Maki-e artists using all of the legendary Maki-e techniques. It’s hard to believe that all of these techniques begin with the sap of the Urushi tree and date back centuries. This rare art has only survived because of the reverence passage from generation to generation. Inside these pages Bernard unveils the various forms and techniques of Maki-e in great detail and with clear illustrations. You’ll also read artist’s profiles, learn about the pens they’ve created, and be taken step-by-step through the various Maki-e techniques used to create these exquisite masterpieces. As you read through this book I hope you will realize that the Maki-e pens of Danitrio are created from the love of an age-old tradition. When you reach the end of “Maki-e, an art for the soul” you may find yourself thinking if I were an artist ….. I wonder where I could get some Urushi sap …… and that’s the inspiration that keeps this art form alive.”



As reviewed by Len Provisor on Pentrace:

An extraordinary book. Author Bernard Lyn assembles for the first time definitive examples and explanations of this ancient art form with over 100 lavish illustrations of skilled artisans and their creations in life-size and over-size graphics. This book is not meant to sit on a coffee table. To any avid pen collector it would serve as a valid and qualified source of information relative to Maki-e arts and the Japanese history of pen making. Whether you are new to Maki-e arts or not, this book will serve as an excellent education covering not only the history of this ancient art form and also detailed examples of how Maki-e designs are created on fountain pens. This book is a journey from the very start of the Urushi sap collection process, the skilled artists, the various Maki-e decoration styles and to the final creation of a beautiful Maki-e writing instrument. Materials for Maki-eMaki-e (pronounced “Ma” as in “mat”, “Ki” as in “kit” and “e” as in “Edward” was created by Japanese in the 8th Century, and even today Maki-e can only be found in Japan due to its complicated techniques of painting which require both exceptional talent and incredible endurance. “Maki” of Maki-e means “sprinkling” or “sowing”, and “e” means “paintings”. Sprinkling gold or silver powders is one of the special characteristics of Maki-e. A good Maki-e artist needs not only natural talent, but has also usually begun training in the art form from a very early age. Many years of apprenticeship to his master are required before he is able to begin creating his own Maki-e. Just as an athlete needs a healthy mind and body, it is widely believed that Maki-e artists need strong cultural backgrounds in order to produce good Maki-e work.The author takes the reader on a grand tour of over thirty major Urushi/Maki-e centers throughout Japan, and they all boast their special techniques and their hundreds of years of decorating history. One who is greatly familiar with Maki-e can tell from the finished art the source of this product by the design, patterns or Urushi painting. For example, Hiraizumi in Iwate Prefecture is well known for their Hidehira-nuri designing with gold leaves. Johoji in Iwate Prefecture is famous for their Tame-nuri. Certain patterns, textures and designs can be identified to particular artists who will specialize with the use of certain materials. The themes of Maki-e decoration are usually drawn from nature, illustrating birds, fish, Dieties, Demons and Gods, landscapes or simply dazzling effects of gold or silver dust. The pens themselves are usually formed from ebonite but animal horn is also used. The various sources and natural ingredient qualities of Urushi are explained, describing the differences of Urushi sap from various Asian countries. Weather, wind, moisture and soil are the inherent ingredients as there are over 600 species of Urushi trees. The collecting, harvesting methods and processing of Urushi will vary greatly by region, the time of year it is harvested from June to September and the care of this process determines the final quality. Other Major TechniquesBernard Lyn explains that Maki-e was created in Japan 1,400 years ago. Togidashi-Maki-e was created in the Nara Period (646-794) and Urushi knowledge came from China during the Tang Dynasty (618-907) showing artisans how to add colors and gold materials to make objects more beautiful. Essentially Maki-e is a unique art form sowing gold, silver or platinum powders onto wet Urushi. Other precious materials such as abalone, corals, pearl, tortoise shells and ivory in fine thin layers (called Raden) are applied to contour lines drawn upon sticky Urushi to form elaborate designs. There are countless combinations of techniques to achieve a certain balance, beauty or transparency to the finished Maki-e design. Many of these techniques are explained in detail showing every step of creation and also a profile or biography of the artist. Tools for Maki-eThe author explains to us that among the most important tools used to create Maki-e are Fude (brushes) and other brushes. Some are made from only certain animal hairs based on their own characteristics. The brushes are made with the hair of mice, but only the hairs that grow on the back of mice can be used. Other sources for such extremely fine brushes are cat, fox, horse, squirrel hairs and from other species, with some of these brushes costing at least $500. Without question the most valuable ingredient to produce Maki-e pens is the talent of the artists. In the early 1900’s there were around 500 fountain pen related firms in Tokyo alone. In addition to Pilot, Sailor and Platinum there were about 100 turneries producing pens and 60 each of gold nib makers and lacquer artists. Today all of these are gone, there are so few artisans left that are still working on genuine ebonite eye dropper fountain pens by hand. The fountain pen community is grateful to Bernard Lyn for this monumental work bringing this age old art form to the attention of not only pen collectors world wide but all those who appreciate the art of Maki-e.

The book is available from: "Wood 'N Dreams" (



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