I haven’t been blogging for a month now! The start of InCoWriMo coincided with the Chinese New Year festive season, and for me, it was followed by a week-long business trip, countless meetings, piled up work which I needed to clear even during my evenings (even nights), the extraction of 4 teeth to prepare for braces, and a lot of accumulated fatigue. And I thought I was busy enough during the second half of last year! Seems like life is going to get more and more hectic from now…
When life gets busy and you need time out, no better time-out can arrive in the form of awesome fountain pens. I received 2 fountain pens sponsored by Manu Propria ~ Angular Momentum of Switzerland upon returning from my business trip, and oh did I spend a long time admiring them!
I intend to make a review of these pens as well as put one of them up for a giveaway, for my website has reached a milestone of 100,000 views! In fact, it has exceeded 100K and now it stands at around 105K views, which is making me exhilarated. Watch out for details on how you can win one of these pens at the bottom of this post. By the way, even though the pens have been sponsored by Manu Propria, all views expressed in this post are entirely my own (just a disclaimer, so that we all know my post is as unbiased as it can be).
For the record, these are the biggest pens I have ever had. Measuring around 17cm long when capped, these cigar-like pens are all handmade, so you will never get the exact same ones anywhere else. “Manu Propria” is Latin for “with one’s own hand”, and it cannot be a more fitting name to this company, where all its fountain pens are made by the artist’s own hands (with a lathe too, of course).
This copper-coloured pen is made for me, as I have selected the “Chado-Nuri” Urushi lacquer technique for my pen. The pen itself is made of black ebonite treated with a layer of black lacquer, followed by an application of transparent Urushi and then fine copper powder. Polishing of a final coat of transparent urushi gives the pen a shiny look with the light reflecting from the peaks and contrasts from the duller crevices of the pen surface. I probably am not doing the fine Japanese lacquer art much justice with my attempted layman’s description of the process, but it does seem like a very complex technique in order to create a pretty piece like this pen.
Taking this pen apart you can see it takes a straightforward barrel-section-cap form. The barrel feels sturdy while the cap feels a little more fragile. Well, you can’t expect a pen cap to be as sturdy as the barrel, unless you add some reinforcements to it. I will have to take care NEVER to drop any part of the pen or hit it anywhere by accident. The section fits a regular international cartridge or the converter which you can fill up with ink.
At the last possible moment, I asked Martin (penmaker and owner of Manu Propria/Angular Momentum) if he could engrave my name on the pen, or put a seashell on it, as I have seen some of his pens embellished with these cute little seashells in the cap. Turns out he put one at the side of the cap, and it’s so adorable! In my ignorance, I had thought it was a real piece of shell, but as Martin described:
The shell is built up with “kokusô” a mixture of urushi, tonoko (clay powder) and rice glue in a technique called “takamaki-e.
Makes it all the more awesome! It looks exactly like a real seashell, who would have thought otherwise? As the pen doesn’t come with a clip, this shell embellishment acts as a stopper preventing the pen from rolling all over the place. A creative, cute, and useful ornament.
To accompany this beautiful pen, Martin has included a pen rest and a pen pouch. The pen rest is nothing I’ve seen before – it resembles very much a branch off a grape vine plane but coated with lacquer. It looks so natural that once again, I was almost fooled into thinking it’s real wood! It’s heavy and sturdy, and there is even a little groove on it where you can rest your pen. According to Martin’s description, it is made of ceramic and also urushi lacquered!
The pen pouch is simple in design but the cloth is soft and velvety, reminding me of upholstery in expensive hotel suites. What it lacks is a clasp or ribbon to hole the opening shut and prevent the pen from slipping out, since there isn’t anything inside to secure the pen in place. It is very big like the accompanying pen, but the space inside is enough to fit two of the pens inside! Of course it is not advisable to put many pens inside a pouch with no dividers, as they may scratch one another while moving around.
You may wonder how this pen writes, but unfortunately I decided not to ink this precious pen for now. For me, this pen is going to be aThe Bock nib that comes with the pen is gold-toned stainless steel, and has some nice engravings on it. I think the pen could do better with a little bit of branding, maybe a logo or an engraving of the Manu Propria brand, as it is not present on the pen, pen rest, or pouch.
Now for the exciting part: THE GIVEAWAY!
Measuring a length of 16.6 cm when capped, this huge oversized is made of black ebonite as well, and the body is decorated with a technique called “Shudame Sukashi Nuri”. At the bottom is a layer of black lacquer, and then red lacquer is applied on top, giving the pen this red colour. The red lacquer is ground to let the black undercoat show through, then nashiji urushi is applied and polished.
Unlike my Chado Nuri, this red pen is glossy and smooth. However it has the same Bock stainless steel nib which is of a golden tone. There is no clip nor any seashell, though.
If you want a chance to be the proud owner of this pen, take part in the raffle below! Get 5 chances to win this pen by doing the following:
1. Visit the Manu Propria website http://www.angularmomentum.com/ and browse the collection of fountain pens that are on the site (they have very pretty timepieces too!).
2. Come back to this post and leave a comment telling me which pen you liked best and why. Remember to indicate in the Rafflecopter widget below or your points will not be recorded!
3. There are also optional tasks to increase your chances such as tweeting once a day (for an extra entry per day), liking the Manu Propria Facebook page, and following me on Twitter.
Raffle ends 15 April, after which one lucky winner will be selected and announced!
Disclaimer: Although the 2 fountain pens have been sponsored by Manu Propria, all opinion on this post are mine.