TRADITIONAL CRAFTSMAKER

Traditional Craft men & women in Taito city

Glass pen

Mr. Isamu Sase

Mr. Isamu Sase of Sase Industrial Co., Ltd. is a glass craftsman who inherited the skills of the glass pen inventor. He manages Sase Industrial Co., Ltd. with his daughter and her husband.

The glass pen was invented as a writing implement by Mr. Tejiro Sasaki, a furin wind chime craftsman during the Meiji Period (1868-1912). Glass pens contain many grooves that fill with ink when dipped into an ink pot. The ink glides off the tip of the glass pen creating a pleasant and unique writing experience that has spread out around the world from Japan to Italy, Germany, France, and more. Glass pens were widely used as common writing implements, but after the spread of ballpoint pens the demand for glass pens began to decline. In 1989, Mr. Isamu Sase thought about glass pens which up until now had a tip made of glass but a barrel made from bamboo, celluloid, or other materials and decided to create a pen made completely of glass. Including functionality, these pens also have the added aesthetic value making them loved by professional illustrators as well as the general public.

The reason that Mr. Isamu Sase decided to become a craftsman is that when he was a high school student his father told him that the previous head, Mr. Yonezo Sase, was looking for an apprentice. In order to become an established glass pen craftsman many years of training was required but after training earnestly for a long time he was finally able to become independent.

The production process starts with cutting glass to the right length for a pen. Then the glass is fired with a burner and the melted part is twisted to create the barrel of the pen. Once the barrel cools the same process is repeated to create the tip of the pen. When it completely cools the process is finished. The rate at which glass melts depends on the hardness of the glass and the heating time needs to be adjusted based on it. Being able to twist the glass in a short amount of time is an essential skill.

Glass pens were once used as standard writing implements but recently they are more commonly used as artists’ tools for work such as drawing pictures using pointillism and for amending dyed products. Many elderly people used to use glass pens and end up becoming attached to them, but there are also many school children who use them in art classes. Glass pens are loved by people in a wide age range. In fact, there are many people who like them so much they start their own collection.

“At the request of a famous luxury brand overseas, I made trial products many times. In the end, because of the differences in climate the trials didn’t come to anything, but it was a good learning experience. I was interviewed for an article in an airline’s inflight magazine so I have many chances to meet foreign tourists who come to department stores and exhibitions. Recently, the Japanese government opened a special shop called ‘Japan House’ in Los Angeles, USA to introduce Japanese culture and provide an opportunity to buy traditional Japanese products. It seems to be quite popular.” Mr. Isamu Sase explained.

 

Sase Industrial Co., Ltd.

Address: (Tokyo) Taito, Iriya 2-29-8

Telephone: 03-3873-1564

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