History and Process of Vietnamese Lacquer Art...

Vietnamese Lacquer Art has a history of over two thousand years. In Phu Tho Province, in Northern Vietnam, resins are harvested from the Rhus Succedanea Tree and converted into natural lacquer, which is then applied to paintings and fine art. The traditional lacquer process, as practiced in Vietnam, is complex and requires 75 to 115 days to complete each piece. There are many steps to the production of lacquer ware. Any imperfections in the wood are first sealed with lacquer. The wood is then covered with cotton gauze and covered with a thick mixture of sawdust, alluvial soil, finely ground rock, and lacquer. After drying it is sanded smooth under water. It is then painted with a mixture of alluvial soil and lacquer and wet sanded. The coating and sanding process is repeated at least two more times. At this point, the artwork is applied to the piece by hand using any combination of paints, seashell, mother of pearl, eggshell, and other materials. The surface areas of piece without artwork are painted with solid lacquer, while the areas with the design are coated with a special clear lacquer. The artwork is then entirely coated at least two more times with clear lacquer. Finally, during the finishing process, the art piece is highly polished with wax, preserving and accenting the finished masterpiece.