Home | What is "Makie" ?
What is "Makie" ?

About Makie:

Makie is an Urushi lacquer technique of sprinkling gold and/or silver powder on Urushi lacquer while it is still wet. Makie is one of the Japanese traditional techniques that some pattern, design and/or letters are drawn and painted with Urushi lacquer on the surface of the object.


Makie fountain pen:

We take about 3 to 6 months to finish decorating one fountain pen.
We use different highly-skilled techniques depending on the design, colors, patterns and the materials. The price depends on the technique and the materials used.
The color of the Urushi lacquer becomes darker and deeper by applying many layers. You can see gold and silver beneath urushi lacquer through many layers of Urushi lacquer.
This traditional technique is developed and matured by Makie masters and we are certain that you will enjoy this fine beauty of Makie.


3 basic techniques of Makie:

1. Togidashi Makie:
After sprinkling gold and/or silver powder, overlay the surface with Urushi lacquer and let it dry. Then polish the surface with charcoal to make gold and/or silver more apparent. By using relatively rough gold and/or silver powder, gold and/or silver will shine differently according to the angle and the reflection of light and it gives richer and more dazzling effects.

2. Taka Makie:
Applying many layers of Urushi lacquer on the design gives it more volume and richness.

3. Hira Makie:
Sprinkle gold powder on the design painted with colored Urushi lacquer or raw Urushi lacquer and let it dry. Apply several more layers of Urushi lacquer and polish the surface with polishing powder.
※For Togidashi Taka Makie, both Togidashi Makie technique and Taka Makie technique are used. It has the best texture, exquisite depth and a sublime beauty among all Makie.


History of Makie:

The oldest Makie in existence now is the Togidashi Makie applied on the sheath of Shomu Emperor’s sword, Kingindensoukaratachi. The technique was developed in Kyoto and then introduced nationwide thereafter.
This Makie technique is a traditional Japanese technique.


Kyo Makie:

Since Kyo Makie was applied on the belongings of the Emperor and the aristocratic people, “Hidden elegance” which is highly treasured in Japan became the basic feature of Kyo Makie. This hidden elegance is the main feature of Kyo Makie and it sets Kyo Makie apart from Makie in other regions.
1. It’s not flashy and blatant. It is more classy and elegant
2. Even small Makie is very detailed and elaborate.
3. Its elegance is appreciated by only prestigious people


Faults in Kyo Makie:

Kyo Makie is not well appreciated by the general public because its main feature is the hidden elegance. Kyo Makie does not have the striking beauty that Kaga Makie (which is often used for making Makie fountain pen) has.


Kaga Makie:

Kaga Makie started in early Edo period (1620’s) when Kaga Han(feudal domain) invited Kyo Makie artists to teach and pass down the technique, and then Makie technique was spread in Kaga. Since the technique was not mature enough, people tended to use more decoration to make up for the lack of technique to appeal to the public. Kyo Makie is more about hidden subtle beauty that appeals to the nobility and the loyal family whereas Kaga Makie is about striking beauty that appeals to the Samurai class in Edo period.
*We can’t say which is better. It is a matter of taste.


Kyo Makie and Kaga Makie:

Kyo Makie is considered higher class than Kaga Makie since it is appreciated by Emperor and court nobles in Japan.


Other aspects:

Makie fountain pens often seen in the market today are not technically authentic traditional Makie. Those are only screen printed on the pens and cost around US$20-30(US$150 at most) People need to know if it’s an authentic Makie or a screen printed replica and may well choose the right one depending on their preferences.