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Crafting The Finest Tips

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Among the craftsmen who have kept this art alive is the father-son duo of Nobuyoshi Nagahara and his son Yukio, who have kept the flag flying for Sailor pens, a highly regarded Japanese maker of fountain pens now in its 100th year. The senior Nagahara (now 80 years old) revived the technique of making the Naginata-Togi nib, named after a Japanese sword. He also created the cross-point (also called cross emperor), which is made by joining two slits. Later, a thin strip of solid gold is put on top of the nib.

Son Yukio, who joined his father at Sailor Pens at the age of 21, now travels and conducts pen workshops across the globe. On a recent visit to India for a workshop organised by William Penn, we caught up with him for a tÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€ ÃÆ'¢â‚¬â„¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Å¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚ªte-ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€ ÃÆ'¢â‚¬â„¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Å¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚ -tÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€ ÃÆ'¢â‚¬â„¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Å¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚ªte. Only, catching Yukio is one thing, and getting him to talk is quite another, given that the master speaks only Japanese, and the interpreter also barely understood English. Still, we got some insights. ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Â¦ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…“Nib-making is an art, and like other forms of art it also requires constant innovation,ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'¢â‚¬Å¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚ says Yukio. Speaking even while giving final touches to a nib, Yukio says the basic technique is still the same as was used by his father decades ago. Highly regarded for creating Saibi Togi, an extra fine nib using a grinding technique, Yukio regards the King Cobra and King Eagle the most difficult nibs to make.

King Cobra is made with two nibs joined together. The tips, which resemble the head and jaws of the Cobra, are expertly ground and polished to shape. The nib can be used to produce lines of varying thicknesses, and is only suited to pen barrels of a certain length. The King Eagle is made by joining three nibs together, stacked on top of one another. The tipping surfaces are then finely slit to produce the double cross. YukioÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¾ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢s favourite is the Naginata nib, which he made for himself. Yes, you canÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'†â€™ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¡ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¬ÃÆ'ƒÆ’ÃÆ'‚¢ÃÆ'ƒÂ¢ÃÆ'¢â€šÂ¬ÃÆ'…¾ÃÆ'ƒâ€šÃÆ'‚¢t get your hands on that one.
(This story was published in Businessworld Issue Dated 13-09-2010)