Applying urushi by brush

Sergej Kirilov

Studio Lacquer Decor

Arnhem, Netherlands

Presentation

Sergej Kirilov “Lacquer Decor” is mainly using the traditional Japanese lacquer technique of Urushi to decorate customized panels and furniture. All of them are unique pieces. The URUSHI comes from the sap of a tree that grows in China, Korea, Japan and in the eastern region of the Himalayas...

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... This sap contains urushiol resin which, when exposed to moisture and air, polymerizes and becomes a lacquer hard, almost like plastic. Sometimes the achievements of these pieces requires several months of work. “Lacquer Decor” merges the traditional Japanese Urushi with contemporary trends and needs.

COMPANY

. We offer the possibility for devising unique pieces together with you, from design, manufacturing and the finishing. If desired we can finish your designs, existing furniture and other objects with this high-quality exceptional Japanese lacquer upon request.

The techniques which we use have been based on the traditional Japanese lacquer techniques with the use of Urushi. We were privileged to have learned these basic techniques from a Japanese lacquer artist. With a lot of passion for material and by many years’ experimenting with these traditional techniques we found our own way and managed to create our entirely own style.

Unique, contemporary and with respect for traditional crafts.  The process is long and labour intensive, independent of the size of the surface it costs on average 6 months to carry out the finishing. In some cases 60 layers are applied and polished by hand.  Depending on the kind of lacquer the time it takes a single layer to dry can take from 2 hours up to 3 months.

URUSHI  What is urushi?  Urushi is the sap of the urushi (or lacquer) tree. It is native to China, Korea, Japan, and the eastern Himalayas region. The sap of this tree contains a resin-urushiol, which when exposed to moisture and air, polymerises and becomes a very hard, durable, plastic-like substance, lacquer. Urushi is, in fact, a natural plastic.

History  There is evidence that stone-age peoples discovered the useful properties of the sap of the urushi tree. They first used its adhesive properties in the making of spears and arrows. In early Japan, the people recognized the durability and shining beauty of urushi and they began using it to coat wood, pottery, baskets and bone objects. In Japan the urushi bowl or plate became a part of the harmony of traditional Japanese food. Maki-e and raden urushi techniques elegantly used gold and silver to ennoble furniture, make-up accessories, toys, and writing implements.  Urushi also became an integral part of the harmony of Natsume (tea canisters), Kogou (incense burners) and other tools and utensils used in the tea ceremony at the court. urushi was used outside the court, in Buddhist temples and in the making of armour, helmets, swords, and other implements of war. In the 17th Century, the Dutch East India Company introduced Japanese and Chinese lacquer ware to Europe.  In eighteenth century Chinese screens were imported into Europe, often for the purpose of being used to create new objects. Many of these hybrid pieces of furniture are found in museums and private collections today.  In the twentieth century a number of designers working in France began to use Asian lacquer for furniture and other decorative arts. Eileen Gray and Jean Dunand are two of the artists who produced screens, furniture and paintings using Asian lacquer.  Today, urushi has become an important material in the art scene in Japan and other parts of Asia. Contemporary artists are increasing working with urushi, its colours, shapes and techniques, in their paintings, art objects and jewellery.

Interviews

Applying urushi by brush

Ancient Urushi craft

I would describe myself primarily as an Urushi Artist and I work together with my wife Marina who is similarly skilled. I am also a designer/cabinetmaker and it was through my work in this trade ...
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