WHAT IS LACQUER?
Natural lacquer is made from the sap of the lacquer tree which is indigenous to China. Lacquered objects are water-proof, resistant to heat, alkali, acid and can hold their color and luster easily for several hundred years.
Lacquer painting is a form of painting with lacquer invented in the ancient China in the Shang dynasty around 1384-1111 BC. In the beginning it was used for decoration and preservation of wooden objects and as such it made its way to Japan, Vietnam and Russia where it branched into different styles and techniques. In the 1930’s the technique was revived and developed as a fine art painting genre by Vietnamese artists.
The techniques of lacquer paintings are very complicated and it often takes several months to finish a single painting. It starts by preparing a wooden panel; the panel is polished and then coated with several layers of lacquer. After that usually a sketch with a chalk is made and eggshell, powders, metal foils and other materials are applied. Then several layers of colored and clear lacquer are painted by brush. Each layer has to dry and be polished before the next one is applied. When this process is done the artist polishes different parts of the painting to show the preferred colors and the image beneath.