Montegrappa Bijo-To-Yaju: A Love Story In More Ways Than One
by Nancy Olson
Beauty and the Beast is a classic fairytale still captivating audiences on film and on stage years after its magical movie debut in Jean Cocteau’s 1946 release La Belle et la Bête.
Montegrappa offers another telling of the 4,000-year-old love story in the manner it knows best: in the form of a handmade pen. The limited edition Montegrappa Bijo-To-Yaju was created in collaboration with Japanese designer Tomita Kazuhiko, who fathomed a stunning, multifaceted storyboard that Montegrappa interpreted on the writing instrument using several artisanal techniques.
The Nagasaki-born Kazuhiko, who studied industrial design at Chiba University and furniture design at London’s Royal College of the Arts, was inspired by Japanese woodblock printing, Kabuki, and kintsugi. The award-winning artist’s fusion of Japanese artistry and European storytelling focuses on cross-cultural references to heroism, beauty, and love. The “beast,” for example, takes the form of the shishi, the “lion protector” in Shintoism.
Montegrappa Bijo-To-Yaju pen
It took more than three years to complete the design and development – quite a feat considering there was a pandemic going on during much of that time. The handcrafted resin and enamel pen was ultimately produced at Montegrappa’s Bassano del Grappa atelier, where lost-wax casting, an art form for which the company is well known, was used to fashion the dramatic vermeil elements. The sculpted lion-like head on the crown of the pen as well as the sculpted cap band with a lock are particularly detailed and symbolic as is the key on the barrel.
“The lock and key motifs found on the edition are a further homage to Cocteau,” says Montegrappa CEO Giuseppe Aquila. “While their creation through lost-wax casting is not new in itself, their application introduces the idea of incorporating charms onto the body of a pen.”
My favorite part of the pen’s construction is the reference to kintsugi, which is both a Japanese philosophy and a practice. “Golden joinery,” as it is translated, is the practice of repairing broken pottery with lacquer and gold dust, similar to maki-e.
As a philosophy, it is a call to embrace – and even honor – the imperfect and recognize the beauty in the history of an object, flaws and all. On the pen it is symbolized by gold enamel relief, which separates each “chapter” of the narrative.
“Over many years, a fascination with unconventional beauty has bred a curiosity for styles that embrace imperfection,” explains Aquila. “Kintsugi techniques used in Japanese ceramic arts are a particular point of reference, and Tomita’s involvement in this project created the agency to adopt this idea of ‘golden repair’ within our own oeuvre.”
The merchant’s ship, the castle, the rose, and more are all illustrated along the length of the pen’s body. And since the pen is devoid of a clip, there is no intrusion on the incredible imagery. The pen comes in a lacquered wood case, also designed by Kazuhiko, that includes a sculpted pen stand.
For more information, please visit www.montegrappa.com/en/collections/edizionilimitate/bijo-to-yaju.
Quick Facts Graf Montegrappa Bijo-To-Yaju
Edition: fountain pen and rollerball pen
Cap and barrel: resin, enamel, vermeil
Nib: specially engraved 18-karat gold nib with ebonite feed
Limitation: 222 fountain pens; 99 rollerball pens
Price: $4,995 (fountain pen); $4,495 (rollerball)
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