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Kitaboshi Pencil Co.

Urushi Lead Holder


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About This Product

These elegant lead holders are made from incense cedar, the California-grown wood that's used in virtually all premium pencils. Kitaboshi Pencil Co. in Tokyo has plenty of experience making incense cedar into pencils, and this playful design repurposes those same cedar hexagons into housings for 2 mm mechanical pencils.

But regular pencils are simply dipped in paint, while these lead holders are hollowed out, given sturdy mechanical innards (yes, pencil enthusiasts, the clutch is made from brass), and capped with metal fittings at both ends.

The final detail is the urushi finish, a traditional element of Japanese decorative art that consists of repeated, thin coats of lacquer applied by a skilled craftsperson. The natural lacquer comes from the sap of the East Asian lacquer tree, which has grown in Japan for millennia and has been used to make lacquerware since 7000 BCE.

Urushi is a lovely transparent amber in its natural state, and with additional coats, the finish deepens. One of the two color options for this pencil is simply cedar with transparent urushi, for a natural deep brown grain. The other option is finished in iro-urushi, or color lacquer, with vermilion pigment added to the natural resin.

Both finishes are attractive and eye-catching, and the juxtaposition of natural materials, bold color, and chrome reminds us of the best midcentury design objects.

Made in Japan.

About Kitaboshi Pencil Co., Ltd.:

Manufacturing pencils in Tokyo since 1951, Kitaboshi is a fifth-generation company that celebrates the "charm and potential" of traditional wood-cased pencils.

Kitaboshi traces its roots to an early 20th century lumber processing company, which was the first supplier of domestically manufactured pencil slats. The family turned to manufacturing finished pencils during the midcentury boom in Japanese pencil production, and Kitaboshi Pencil has been making high-quality pencils ever since.

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    Kitaboshi Pencil Co.