Ancient Copper

Shibui Kibo Copper Urushi Pen Review

The Shibui Kibo is a pen like no other, Weighing in at a mighty 142g, it makes the steel Gravitas Skittles seem like a featherweight in comparison. If you like lightweight, plastic pens then then walk away now. On the other hand, if you like a heavy pen with some Urushi craftsmanship to it, read on. Lighter pens in aluminium are also available from this maker, though I have not had the opportunity to try one as yet.

First impressions

It is heavy! Really heavy! You could be forgiven for mistaking it for a murder weapon in a live role-play version of Cluedo*.  It would certainly do some damage if you whopped someone over the head with it!**

*Alright, I know it’s a lead pipe, not a copper one, but who uses lead for pipes these days? Get with the times!
**Don’t try this at home

Joking aside, the mottled reds of the Urushi lacquer blending with the natural copper tones are quite lovely. I understand the not-quite-matching vermillion coloured Bock nib was added by one of the review team. I don’t know what sort of nib this pen would be supplied with if purchased. Personally, although a coloured nib is a nice idea, I don’t think this one does the pen any favours by drawing one’s eye away from the nice Urushi finish.

Writing Experience

The weight of the pen is an issue for me. I doubt lengthy essay writing would be sustainable. I can’t see it being anyone’s first choice for a pocket carry either, unless they want to be walking in circles. Though, as I said, I believe that lighter pens using this technique are available.

The pen arrived, from previous reviewers, already inked with Monteverde Copper Noir, which suits it rather well. It writes well enough, as you would expect from a Bock nib, but you do feel the effects of the weight very quickly. I’m unsure whether this is purely down to the weight or a balance issue, but it was difficult to write in a straight line with it. (Yes, I do normally have trouble with this when I’m not paying sufficient attention, but I was trying this time!)

The nib writes adequately, as you’d expect from a Bock. I do like the notion of colour matching, but this one doesn’t match. It clashes with the pen and detracts from the Urushi finish. This, however, is not the fault of the pen maker. That said. I would like to see a  nib that is more in keeping with the craftsmanship of the pen. Not just a standard Bock or Jowo, but something that has the feel of real quality.

In Summary

This is an exciting time for the humble fountain pen. Not only is it enjoying a welcome resurgence in a world filled with technology, but there are a growing number of artisan makers producing some truly wonderful work. As many of the more well-known brands fell victim to the quality issues that seem to plague modern mass production, I began to despair slightly. I have since been privileged to  review and own a number of hand-crafted pens that are unique, beautifully made and affordable. This is a trend I think we should all get behind and I am overjoyed to see the rise in pen craftsmanship.

This particular pen is not for me and I have been slightly flippant in stating this. It’s too heavy and not comfortable to write with, which is the main function of a pen. The Urushi is nice but that isn’t enough unless you only want it for display purposes. However, this is a review of one specific prototype pen and thus I have tried to overlook some of the issues with it. The great thing about makers, such as Ruth, is that they are usually quite happy to custom make something. They also evolve their craft over time and produce different offerings to suit a variety of tastes. Whilst I have no doubt that Ruth has put much time and effort into developing her Urushi work, the pen itself could do with a lot of improvement.

Personally, I welcome any efforts to perpetuate ancient crafts and I eagerly anticipate further offerings from this maker as she evolves her pen making skills. Definitely one to watch!

Who is it for
  • Cluedo Role Players
  • People needing a counterweight to prevent them walking in circles
  • Lovers of REALLY HEAVY pens
  • Fans of Urushi
The lowdown

Ruth Bolton is a UK pen maker based in Tyneside. She honed her Urushi skills in Japan over almost two decades and turns her pens from solid metal rods. At this time, she does not have a website, but you can see her work on her Kickstarter page or give her a shoutout on the FPUK Facebook page if you are a member.



3 Replies to “Ancient Copper”

  1. Nice review, Ania, and very fair for a pen that many may have serious issues with. It does look nice, but I agree, that red nib does it no favours.

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