Lacquer art in China has a long history. The oldest lacquer ware discovered dates back to the Warring States period (403-221 B.C.). The value of a piece of lacquerware only begins with the materials used to make it. A high quality piece of lacquerware requires the skills of several different elements: lacquer, layers, core materials, decoration, colors and design.
漆藝起源於中國，歷史悠久。最古老的漆器早在戰國時代（公元前 403至221年）時已經出現。漆器的價值首先取決於製作時的原材物料，而高質素的漆器還要講究以下幾個元素：漆、分層、胎體、裝飾、顏 色、設計和製作流程。
Video Courtesy of Black Elephant Studio.
Process making of lacquerware 漆器的製作流程
Natural lacquer should come from the sap of the lacquer tree. The Chinese character for lacquer, pronounced "ch'i" 「漆」 , is pictographic. One of its components, pronounced "mu" 「木」(meaning wood),forms the top part of the word.In the middle two side strokes protrude downwards like taps that have been sunk into a tree. The lower part of the word is formed by a component, pronounced "shui"「水」 (meaning water), which signifies the
flow of sap from the wood.
Lacquer is applied in numerous thin layers on the surface, each being allowed to dry before the addition of the next.
3/ Core materials
Core materials can be made of wood, leather,bamboo,paper, textiles or even horsehair. Exposed to air, the lacquer forms a plastic coat on the core materials, resistant to water.
There are different decoration techniques including carving, engraving,etching, inlaid and gold gilded. All are done by hand with the aid of primitive tools.
Natural pigments such as cinnabar,orpiment (yellow) and Indigo can turn black lacquer into different colours.
The price depends upon the intricacy of design in relation to the amount of time taken to create and decorate an object.
Lacquer requires a dust-free, warm, moist atmosphere in which to dry and harden. Objects are placed on shelves to dry in between the various preparatory surface and decorative processes. This drying process may take from 3 to 10 days depending upon the weather. It may take up to 4-8 months to complete a particularly fine piece of lacquer.
Eat and Travel Weekly, May 2012
New Monday, 2012