How Urushi Lacquer Has Seeped Into Watchmaking. And How You Can Win A Unique Writing Instrument!
Angular Momentum may be known to the watch enthusiast as the boutique brand having produced such colorful and unique timepiece lines as the Axis, Time Explosion, Tec & Art, Color-Tec (which featured an innovative and colorful “mosaic” steel), and Eglomisé (“reverse painting” in French).
Listing off these lines created over the past decade and a half since the brand was founded in 1998 clearly shows how their creator, Martin Pauli, goes through distinct artistic phases. The current one includes a phase of serious experimentation with Japanese lacquers known as urushi lacquer.
Concentrating now on handmade, unique pieces, Pauli has moved into a spacious workshop on the outskirts of Bern, Switzerland, where he is able to pursue any and all of his artistic interests at the same time.
And he has begun branching out, which means he now makes completely handmade objects above and beyond wristwatches. And these – like writing instruments, one of his new passions – are also created one at a time in his light, airy workshop.
This one-of-a-kind, handmade concept is what prompted a shift in the Angular Momentum name. Manu Propria is a new brand name Pauli has taken to signify the gradual transformation away from smaller series to individual, unique and even bespoke pieces that his clients contract.
His urushi-lacquered timepieces, writing instruments and even bowls and other decorative items currently take the lion’s share of his attention.
A unique-piece, urushi-lacquered fountain pen could be yours!
And thus we have an incredibly special treat for readers of Quill & Pad: by taking part in our giveaway, you have the chance to win a unique Manu Propria Japanese-inspired fountain pen valued at $2,200.
“I make my fountain pens according to the principle of Japanese fountain pens,” Pauli confirms. “These are classically without a clip, and are somewhat larger compared to European fountain pens.” Despite the larger size of the pen Pauli made exclusively for Quill & Pad, it remains very light as its barrel and cap are handcrafted in ebonite, a material made from rubber and sulfur. “This makes them perfectly light and excellent to write with,” Pauli, explains.
The ebonite elements are covered with urushi lacquer, a complicated, hand-intensive process. “Fine coatings of lacquer are applied, then hardened for 24 hours in a moist cabinet chamber called a furô that maintains a constant temperature of 25 to 28°C and constant humidity of 65 to 80 percent. Between every single coating, I polish. The entire process for just one pen lasts 14 days.”
The fine art of urushi
Urushi lacquer is made from a caustic substance sapped from the trunk of a Japanese or Chinese lacquer tree. This sap is filtered, heat-treated and colored (if so desired) before being applied to the item to be decorated.
When it has finished curing by drying in a warm chamber, it forms a hard, water-resistant surface to become glossy and durable. This being one of Pauli’s favorite techniques, he naturally experiments with it, often producing something all his own by adding elements.
The nib Pauli uses is crafted in stainless steel and made — like every other fountain pen nib in the world outside of those manufactured by Montblanc — in Germany by Bock. The ink feeding system and cartridges Pauli uses are also provided by Bock, though he is currently looking for an eye-dropper system from Japan for future writing instruments.
“Urushi can be successfully applied to a variety of substrates, including wood, metal, basketry, leather and textiles,” Pauli says. “A wide variety of techniques and materials are utilized in items featuring urushi, and two or more techniques may be used on the same object. To lacquer an urushi pen or a watch dial, at least 17 working steps are needed and every step includes a hardening time per layer of 24 to 72 hours.”
This writing instrument Pauli created for Quill & Pad is fully unique and comes with a handmade pen rest lacquered to look like a branch and is delivered in two hand-sewn duffel pouches. Sewn by Pauli, of course.
For more details on the give-away prizes available and how to enter in the running, simply register for our newsletter on the right-hand side of the page. And please click Quill & Pad Celebrates Launch With Free Prize Giveaway to see the complete list of high-quality prizes!