Lacquer Ware

Real Japanese lacquer is an organic substance made from the sap of the Urushi tree (Rhus verniciflua). The sap is collected by scratching the tree and is then refined and aged. In Japanese, the lacquer itself is called "Urushi", and lacquer ware is called "Shikki (lacquer ware)" or "Nurimono (painted things)". Hardened lacquer forms a highly protective coating that repels water and prevents rotting in addition to resisting the effects of acid, alkali, salt and alcohol. Lacquer has to be applied on something – a core – and more than one coating is necessary for the lacquer to last. Wood is the most common material for cores, but basketry, leather, and paper are also traditionally used. Recently, ceramics, glass, metal and even plastic have been seen with Urushi coating. There are different methods on how to apply and decorate lacquer. With the gold decoration known as Makie, a final coat of high-gloss, transparent lacquer is often applied.