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How Qua Lacquerware is made

lacquaLacquerware is a wooden base made coated with the sap of the Rhus Succedaneum tree. The lacquer coating ensures that each piece is waterproof. Since lacquer coating is a 100% natural product from the tree, all our lacquer pieces can be used to serve food without any adverse effects. All our lacquer pieces are handmade by craftsman and can take up to 115 days to finish a single piece. Even a simple bowl takes a minimum of 75 days.

The process is only completed when each piece has passed through the experienced hands of our craftsmen. Here, many layers of lacquer mixture and silver leaves are applied. Besides applying the layers, each craftsman leaves something of himself behind – his artistic impressions. Each Qua lacquer piece is something short of a miracle. As each piece is hand done, every piece is unique, and no two pieces are the same. This is what makes our collection special.

We use the traditional lacquerware technique that has not changed for over 1000 years. The steps undertaken to craft a lacquer product are:

Wood & Base Layer

The raw wood base is examined and dried. The wood is made from the wood of the mango, jackfruit tree or bamboo. For the slightly more complex shapes, moulds are made from medium density fibreboard (MDF). After the carpentering the wood to the intended shape, a fine cotton gauze is stretched over the wood base, and sealed with natural lacquer sap to prevent cracking.

The natural lacquer is then mixed with finely ground mountain rock, sawdust, and alluvial soil. Using a type of spatula, the product is covered with a thick coating. When the coating is dried, the product is placed under water and polished using a sharpening stone. This process is repeated 6 times. Natural lacquer is beaten for 24 hours to form a glutinous mixture and the product is then coated thickly. After drying, the product is again polished under water with a sharpening stone. This process is repeated another 2 times. The result is a lacquerware piece with a base layer of 8 layers.

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Design Layer

The design is applied by hand on the prepared base layer. Each piece will have a combination of gold/silver leaf application or eggshell/mother of pearl designs, or even handpainting.

Gold / Silver Leaf Application

For lacquerware with gold / silver leaves finishing, each piece of gold / silver leaf is painstakingly pasted onto the lacquerware piece, and then polished to result in a smooth and shiny surface.

Eggshell and Mother of Pearl Designs

Recycled eggshells and mother of pearl is pasted and cut to the desired motif. A sharp scalpel may be used to created the designs on the eggshells.

Painted designs

For painted design, the artist will paint the artwork on the base. The painting of the artwork may be a multiple step process where the artwork is painted, polished and painted again to ensure the depth of the colours and effects required

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Finishing Layer

After the design is completed, the lacquer product is given a coat of clear lacquer, dried and polished. This process is repeated another 6 times to provide the shine and lustre of the finished product.

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