I love lacquer and have been fortunate to receive lacquered bowls, chopsticks and bento boxes from my relatives in Japan over the years. And I was so pleased to learn that lac dye is derived from shellac, which I assumed was where lacquer came from. It was a very nice tie-in with the beautiful lac color and the muted and matte earthy reds of traditional Asian lacquer. Well, I wasn’t exactly accurate when it comes to Japanese lacquer. While it is true that shellac is used in making lacquer, what I discovered is that this type of Japanese lacquer is from the sap of a tree that is tapped similar to a sugar maple. The viscous gum that drips out of the cuts in the bark is collected, refined and colored and then applied to wooden objects as a very durable, highly glossy covering. Mariko Nishide has an excellent website (www.urushi-kobo.com)devoted to Japanese urushi lacquer, and details the laborious, 50-step process in creating a lacquered object. Read about the history of urushi lacquer and see some of the objects that are 9000 years old.
When I spied these Japanese lacquer scoops, I just had to have them as they were beautiful and elegant and had the shiny hardness of the dark black lacquer with the random exposure of the red lacquer underlayer. I hope you enjoy them and find them as lovely as I did.