Story of Lacquer Pen / by Hoang Dao

I turn two pens from different wood. Gold Flower is made of red Padauk, a very famous tree in my country and Peony is made of black Rosewood, way more precious than Padauk. I always use best wood material for unique pens, and never repeat a design twice. I turn with chisels and sand till it gets very thin tail and the shape I need. It takes hours to do in this step, which is called 'making pen bone'.

Next I paint the pen with brown lacquer, layer by layer, and store in into a humid box. Lacquer needs humid environment to dry. The pen will turn to dark color. I sand it by very smooth sandpaper, 2500 or 3000 grids, to get rid of error on the pen surface (usually dust in the lacquer) and apply the last brown lacquer layer (mixed from lacquer and oil) and let it dry in humid box. This step is called 'making pen flesh'.

The most complicated step is 'making pen skin', which I apply real gold and other decoration on the pen. I apply gold and lacquer color in many layers and it with smooth sandpaper reappear the gold underneath lacquer. I repeat this twice or three times, as long as everything is flat perfectly. Then I paint with diluted lacquer lastly, let it dry in humid box and polish by bare hand. The heat from bare hand will make gold brilliantly shine and colors penetrate together. After about one month, when the last layer of lacquer turns transparent, the pen is incomparably beautiful.

Peony is much more expensive than any other pens I have ever made because of 2 reasons. First, it is very complicated thin tail that I must work carefully on the lathe, little by little until it comes to expect shape of 3mm diameter. Second, white color in lacquer is extremely hard (white on flower). The lacquer itself is brown so quite easy to make other color but for white, I have to mix with silver, and a special stone. I also have to paint very thin layer each time because if I paint to much, white color would turn to yellow as the reaction of lacquer with the air, about 7 layers to get the image you see on the pen now.