The Making of Manu Propria Negoro pens
Aka Negoro Nuri lacquerware with an undercoat of black lacquer covered by a coat of red lacquer. Kuro Negoro Nuri lacquerware with an undercoat of red lacquer covered by a coat of black lacquer.
First the foundations and 5 intermediate layers of black urushi „nakanuri“ are applied. Every layer has to dry for 24 hours in the drying chamber „furô“ under constant temperature of 25°C and humidity of 80%. Before a new layer is brushed on, the previous layer has to be ground smooth. The 6th layer of black nakanuri is roughly apllied with the brush. Then 3 layers of pigmented red urushi are applied, always dried in the „furô“ and ground before the next layer is applied. Then the red layers are ground with abrasive paper and water up to grit 5000 to release the black urushi underneath. Then the surface is pre-polished called „dôzuri“ with rapseed oil and „tonoko“ a fine burned clay powder and soft cotton. After the lacquer is carefully cleaned from the oil, the final polishing process „roiro shiage“ takes place starting with „dôzuri“, rubbing transparent high quality „kijiomi urushi“ onto the surface and wiping completely off again with paper and dried in the furô for 24 hours. This process is repeated 8 times because the „kijiomi urushi“ has to saturate the pigments on the surface. Then the lacquer surface is polished with rapseed oil and polishing powder “migaki” and finger tips. After the parts have been cleaned carefully, “kijiomi urush” is rubbed on again and after 24 hours the lacquer is polished hard with “migako” and soft deer skin or the palms of the hand to achieve the beautiful glossy red color. With the time urushi is becoming clearer and the color more bright.
Lacquerware with an undercoat of black lacquer covered by a coat of red lacquer or vice versa came to be known as “negoro”. This appellation originates from Negoro-ji, a temple in Kishu domain (now Wakayama Prefecture) during the prosperous 14th century, were priests made vessels for food and drink offerings to the gods and buddhas. In 1585 the temple was set to flames and the artisans who escaped purportedly spread the lacquer technique of negoro to various parts of Japan. Daily tableware, tea untensils, recipiënts, stationary … were lacquered in negoro-nuri.
After long years of use, the red lacquer on the surface of negoro ware wore away to reveal a black layer underneath. These lacquered objects, which revealed their beauty over time, were highly prized by tea practitioners and art aficionados. Negoro – which posesses the mystique of a solid, practical form, the distinctive colors of red and black, a soft laquered surface, and a stury base – embodies the beauty of early japanese applied art.