For thousands of years, Japanese lacquer, made from sap extracted between the bark and trunk of the urushi tree, has been used as a protective coating material or adhesive to create works of art, holy ornaments, and utilitarian objects. The resinous liquid contains many unique qualities: its long hardening time results in a heat, corrosion, and waterproof surface and its consistency makes it an ideal binding agent. Almost a transparent material, lacquer can be mixed with pigments or powdered metals to heighten its deep gloss.
The creation of lacquer works is a laborious process of patience and precision. Lacquer artist and professor at the Kanazawa College of Art, Shinya Yamamura, produces exquisite works small enough to be held in the palm of one’s hands yet contain an intricate microcosm of precious materials and detailed forms. In this video, Shinya Yamamura shows us a detailed step-by-step process of the creation of his work, Mother of pearl container (2013) beginning with the initial step of creating “Kiji” (the base material before lacquer is applied) up until the final step of “Kashoku” (decoration).