Showing posts with label Kemma. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Kemma. Show all posts

29 March 2018

The Sapphire and the Maki-e

Spring is always a fertile time in the pen scene in Japan. Spring is the season of the biggest pen events in Tokyo where oftentimes pen makers show their new releases. That was the case, for instance, of the new line if Sailor inks recently mentioned on these Chronicles.

At the event named “Fountain Pens of the World” at Mitsukoshi Department Store in Nihonbashi (Tokyo), a new pen brand showed its creations. Its name is Kemma, and it is the brainchild of Mr Tadao Abe, of Yuzawa (in Akita, Japan), and is part of the Akita Grind Industry.


Two Kemma pens and the cap of a third one. As seen at the "Fountain Pens of the World Festival" organized by Mitsukoshi.

The fundamental originality of Kemma’s pens is their non-metallic nibs. They are, actually, made of sapphire (patent US 2017/01366803 A1), and they do not have a slit. The ink is delivered through a V-groove carved in the sapphire.


The sapphire nib.


On the left, an unfinished sapphire nib--unpolished and not grinded. On the right, a finished nib.

As for the rest, the feed is made of ABS plastic, and the filling system is a simple cartridge-converter. The body is metallic, albeit the external decoration hides it. And the final result is a hefty pen.

And very expensive too.


The pen on this picture cost over JPY 1,000,000. The red and white one seen on previous pictures is one of the basic models and costs JPY 300,000, plus tax.

Then, how does it work? The sapphire nib is very rigid and its writing is boring and uncharacteristic. However, its major problem is its tendency to dry up very quickly, and this problem was present in all the testing units. I repeated those tests on a second date with much better results. This suggests that the whole system –nib and feed— had some room for adjustment, but this could only be based on the relative position between nib and feed, and this is a lot less than what could be done to a regular metallic nib.


Writing samples made with several Kemma pens. On this day, one of the pens was adjusted so that it provided a very wet flow and was less prone to drying up. But that was not the case of all of the testing units. My personal experience with most of these pens was that they dried up within seconds after stopped writing. They were not comfortable pens.

Then comes the price of these pens, and Kemma pens are very expensive—starting at JPY 300,000, plus tax. On the other hand, the master company –Akita Grind Industry— tries to add some value to the product by means of some maki-e and urushi-e decoration made in one of the Meccas of these decorative techniques: Wajima, in Ishikawa.


The sapphire and the maki-e.

But, is that all these novelty pens can offer? Are they just canvas for maki-e? The pen indeed writes… albeit a Vpen is more satisfactory at that.

Whether Kemma pens succeed or not will depend, from my point of view, on whether or not they attract the attention of maki-e aficionados. As I have already said on these texts, for those fond of maki-e the pen itself is secondary.


The sapphire nib together with the ABS feed.

Welcome be, though, the innovation of non-metallic nibs that Akita Grind Industry is offering now; but they need further development to compete with the traditional technology of steel and gold nibs.


Lamy Safari – Tomiya Original Ink (Sailor)

Bruno Taut
Nakano, March 28th 2018
etiquetas: Kemma, evento, soluciones técnicas, plumín, maki-e