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Japanese Urushi/lacquer site

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  • 11 months later...

Hello everyone who makes maki-e and other thechniques using Urushi! I have so great wish to do a couple of Manju lacquered netsuke. Having some different Urushi lacquers, some tools and the Inro handbook, I try to understand this process. I've no allergy, probably I can rub myself absolutely and feel nothing! I've made the drying cabinet, the temperature can be plus 22-31 Celsium derees, I put a cup of water inside, but there is a puzzle for me, sometimes it dries in a day, but sometimes it take more than a week. Can anybody give me some advice if it is not commercial secret about such things as normal time of drying, temperature, wetness, thickness of a layer, how must look Sabi-Urushi and probably many more? :D

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Hi Samuel, thank You! There is another problem, I'm a beginner! :D The quality and age of Urushi lacquers are perfect, I've bought them on January this year from Watanabe Syoten, all lacquers are Japanese, Kijiro, Kijomi, Nashiji and Ikkaki. I've read many sites and articles in the Internet, but everywhere is not any information about consistence and more or less right proportions of such things as Sabi-Urushi, I don't know how much water should I add at this mixture, how much must be whet stone dust or something else. I understand that it can be a secret, every artist has own proportions. I'm afraid that I can add more water or powder in lacquer, or I can put too thick layer. I can control temperature, but I don't know anything about thickness of Sabi-Urushi and its consistence. I covered the first layer of Ki-urushi on wooden surface, I did it on 4 pieces at once, I noticed that the thinnest layer was dried in a day, the thickest layer was drying for a week. The next step was Sabi-Urushi, the layer was very think, the surface of SabiUrushi looked dried in a day, I waited two more days and began to polish it with some water and whet stone #600, but the layer of Sabi-Urushi became very sticky, I understood that the process of polymerizing was not end. I washed away this Sabi-Urushi from 2 pieces and left the rest of 4 as they were for control. On the washed pieces I put new done Sabi-Urushi using less water and powder. Now it is in the drying cabinet, the temperature is about +30 C, there is also a cup with water. If You can give me some advice and more understanding how must look the mixtures of lacuers I'll be happy! The next question is how much iron powder should I add the Kijomi-Urushi for getting Roiro-Urushi? How much pigments should I add into Kijiro-Urushi for getting colored lacuers?

Thank You for any advice!


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I will try to help,


Sabi urushi- it depends on the kind stone powder used, add water to stone until it is just barely paste, add urushi next.

the best thing to do is to devote some time and urushi to making some sample boards to get the mix right, remember to try to wash the sabi urushi off( after curing) to make sure that you used enough lacquer to make it harden up and be water resistant,



about the words thin and thick


these terms are kind of relative especially when applied to coats of urushi, Sabi urushi etc.

thin to one person , can be quite thick to another person. so exactly how thick was your coat of sabi urushi? how many sheets of computer paper?


you can use slightly warmer temps and higher humidity to cure base coates, as long as it wont damage your foundation but 30c is probably just about at that level, if you have problems with your finishing lacquers being clouded reduce your heat to something like 25c and use a longer curing time.


your curing case,


it is hard to say if a cup with water will provide the proper humidity if I don't know the volume of you case, also what is the ambient humidity ?


minerals and pigments in urushi,


adding minerals and pigments to urushi can change the curing properties of the urushi; you want to use the proper ratio for the job being done. To obtain natural "earthy" finishes you can use quite a bit of minerals / pigments, for gloss finishes you really have to be carefull and add the minimum to get the job done, but remember that urushi becomes more transparent over time, or use premixed, or use a "finishing coat" of high grade urushi over the color base coat .



hope this helps,



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