This semester I have been lucky enough to join a lacquer ware class offered by the Japanese Painting department at Kyoto Seika University. We were given free reign to create whatever design we liked, to be applied to a round platter shape called ‘marubon’. I chose to keep with my research theme, and used a section of the Rainbow Lorikeet & Eucalyptus design I used to dye a dress last year. On the side of the image, I’ve included the scientific names of the two species in English lettering. It’s so funny to hear Japanese classmates and my teachers say that English lettering looks so “chic” or “stylish”. To me it’s just English!


As you might expect from a Japanese technique, it is time and labour intensive!

After first polishing the sheen off our already black platters and ensuring they were nice and flat, we transferred our designs onto the surface with a chalky white paint called ‘gofun’ (“whitewash”). From there we painted a thin layer of black (almost transparent) lacquer and proceeded to sprinkle very fine silver and coloured powders onto the wet lacquer.

stage one was to transfer the design onto the platter with a white chalky paint, ‘gofun’
the leaf on the right has just been painted with the black laquer, which acts as a glue. After sprinkling over the various powders, it looks like the leaf on the left.
the “stylish” English lettering reads “Trichoglossus Haematodus Molucannus & Eucalyptus Leucoxylon Megalocarpa”

Keep on adding layers of lacquer and silver and coloured powders and the design starts to appear

getting there….進んでいる。。。
Done with the powders! 全部撒いた後。

And then, in what seems like a backwards way of doing things, the whole thing gets a coat of thick black lacquer, which is left to dry til hard, then you polish the black away to reveal the design below, magic!

suffocating the lorikeet beneath a thick layer of lacquer…黒漆を全体に塗って(インコが可愛そう)
then digging him out again! で、研ぐとインコを解放する!

We still have 3 classes left, with some more polishing to take place. The surface will be all shiny and the silver will really sing once its all finished. I’ll post pictures of the final product in January!!