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The Magic of Urushi Lacquer - Much More than Meets the Eye

Rupert Faulkner, Great Britain

  • Arts, Architecture, Design
The Magic of Urushi Lacquer

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An object made using urushi lacquer can be likened to an iceberg in the sense that what you see is just the tip of a lengthy sequence of tens or hundreds of complex and labour-intensive procedures hidden below the surface. The object may be plain or it may be decorated by one or more of many techniques available to the urushi practitioner. Shape, size, weight, timbre when tapped, and temperature can be sensed. So too colour, texture, and lustre. But there is little to indicate how enormous an amount of effort has gone into the object’s creation. This introduction to the ‘magic of urushi lacquer’ is intended to help the non-expert learn about the main processes involved in working with urushi and to deepen their appreciation of urushi’s centrality to Japanese material culture. Its author is Rupert Faulkner, a former curator of London’s Victoria and Albert Museum who acquired his expertise in Japanese art, craft, and design during a career of over forty years.