Frequently Asked Questions
What is the urushi?
The "urushi" in urushi pen characterizes the type of lacquer that is applied on the pen, typically a fountain pen. This particular lacquer is extracted from the Toxicodendron Vernicifluum tree, which is commonly found in eastern Asia in countries including: Japan, China, Korea. These trees can sometimes be terms simply by the geographic location that they are found: Japanese lacquer tree, Chinese lacquer tree, etc. The lacquer itself is made up of the sap in Toxicodendron Vernicifluum tree; the "urushi" name is derived from the oily compound urushiol. After the urushi is painted on with a brush, the lacquer on the pen cured (solidified) by placing it in an environment with heat and moisture.
What makes urushi pens "high end"?
Urushi lacquer is extremely stable upon its curing (solidification) over the pen. It can withstand temperatures over 300°C and is extremely resilient to alkali, acid, and alcohol.
In addition to its highly desired properties of its lacquer, urushi pens require significant level of patience and craftsmanship to produce the masterpiece. Some urushi pen even have intricate Asian artwork that are finely painted on to the pen; these can resemble art such as dragons, animals, historical figures, etc. Coating of urushi lacquer is applied layer by layer, each layer requiring days to cure before the next layer can be applied; some of the artwork can take over a year to complete.
How is the urushi prepared?
The sap used for urushi is collected by tapping the trunk of the Toxicodendron Vernicifluum tree. It is then conditioned through filtration and heat treating before it is mixed with colorants.
Is the urushi on the pen hazardous?
Urushi is only hazardous in its raw liquid form. Its oil compound urushiol is also what's found in poison ivy which when contacted can be a skin irritant, resulting in rashes and other adverse reactions.
However, once the urushi has cured (solidified) over the pen, it is no longer dangerous to handle. Despite this, it is still important to take special care when handling the pen if one is susceptible to having allergic reactions.