Urushi master Norihiko Ogura

The precise and filigree work involved in urushi often exceeds human imagination. This is impressively demonstrated by the summer edition of the fountain pen which was designed by Norihiko Ogura using a variation on the so-called gold sprinkling technique (Maki-e).

The lacquered surface is sprinkled with gold powder consisting of the finest gold grains of just 0.03 mm in diameter. Grinding the surface with charcoal reduces these grains to exactly half their size – a remarkable example of the immense artistry of this urushi master. The streamlined grain is created by

applying and grinding down another layer of gold powder with slightly larger coarse grains. The lines created as a result of this process are ‘polished’ through skin contact during everyday use, thereby enhancing the shine. The fountain pen is subject to a constant process of change.

Norihiko Ogura encountered the art of lacquering for the first time during his entrance exam at the Tokyo University of the Arts. As part of a special exhibition, he saw the works of urushi master Gonruko Matsuda which have been part of Japan’s living cultural heritage since 1955. He was immediately fascinated. He graduated from university with a distinction and became an assistant to Yoshikuni Taguchi, a former student of Gonroku Matsuda. He stayed there for 13 years – until the death of his master. Urushi became a life’s work for Norihiko Ogura, one which he still lives out today both

as an artist and as long-standing Professor and Director of the Institute for Lacquer Art at the Tokyo University of the Arts. Norihiko Ogura’s lacquer work has been awarded virtually every renowned prize going – including the Purple Rose of the Japanese emperor which was presented to him in 2011. His works have featured in numerous international exhibitions and are included in the collections of numerous museums including the Victoria & Albert Museum, the National Museum Tokyo and the Argentina Museum for Modern Art.

The surface resembles a stream of water droplets flowing in different directions.