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Re: [SCA-JML] Japanese laquerwork

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  • Ishiyama Gen'tarou Yori'ie
    ... The Japanese still use urushi lacquer quite extensively. In addition to the danger of allergic reaction, you will find it quite difficult to acquire on
    Message 1 of 4 , Jul 8, 2012
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      yoshikurinagayo wrote:
      > I'm looking at trying my hand at making some Japanese style furniture.
      > I know the lacquer they used would be somewhat dangerous to use today,
      > so what would be best to use instead? Just a modern black/red spray
      > lacquer?

      The Japanese still use urushi lacquer quite extensively. In addition
      to the danger of allergic reaction, you will find it quite difficult
      to acquire on this side of the Pacific.

      There is a cashew lacquer available today that is less likely to cause
      an allergic reaction, but it is mostly intended for smaller items and
      is priced accordingly.

      I have had good luck with a brand of modern polyurethane varnish that
      contains pigment. It's sold by Minwax under the trade name "Polyshades".
      It's not quite the same as lacquer, but it has a nice translucency and
      after a dozen or so coats the color deepens wonderfully.

      You might also consider the beauty and simplicity of bare wood.

      > Also, what wood would have been used under the lacquer?

      That depends. Paulownia, as Lady Solveig suggests, is popular for
      furniture (especially traveling furniture) as it has a very high
      strength-to-weight ratio. Other popular woods are cedar, cypress,
      ash, yew, zelkova, chestnut, mulberry, persimmon, and pine.

      I find cedar to be widely available in home improvement stores
      these days, and affordable.

      > What books/websites are good for documentation or how-to?

      I recommend "Traditional Japanese Furniture; A Definitive Guide" by
      Kazuko Koizumi (Kodansha, 1986). This book was recommended to me, and
      has proved helpful. It not only contains discussion of the furniture
      items themselves, but places them within Japanese culture and history.

      For information on lacquer and lacquering, I refer to "The Inro
      Handbook; Studies of Netsuke, Inro. and Lacquer" by Raymond Bushell
      (Weatherhill, 1979). Inro themselves are so gray-area that most
      people accept them as post-period, but this books notes on lacquer
      are the best I have.

      --
      The Hon. Lord Ishiyama Gen'tarou Yori'ie
      (mka: Elliott C. "Eeyore" Evans)
      ishiyama@...
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