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ANTIQUE CERAMIC RESTORATION and CONSERVATION DISCUSSION BOARD

Re: Japanese Gold Inlay Repairs for Pottery

Posted By: Lawrence (68.charlotte-01-02rs.nc.dial-access.att.net)
Date: 2/1/0 07:34

In Response To: Japanese Gold Inlay Repairs for Pottery (Phil Yordy)

There is little out on the subject but it is regaining favor as a technique in the orient after a lapse of several decades. There is a reference in this article to: Nakasato, T., 1988. Urushi as restoration material. The conservation of Far Eastern art: Abstracts of the contributions to the Kyoto congress. London: IIC, 49. I am uncertain where you would find sources for this type of lacquer considering its toxicity. You can mimic this style with other methods using gold powders, leaf, waxes but nothing I have ever seen gives the subtle appearances of true Urushi lacquer repairs. Hope this helps a little in your search.

JAIC 37(1998):49-67 From Journal of the American Institute for Conservation Spring 1998, Vol. 37, No. 1. Page 54 by STEPHEN KOOB Urushi Lacquer)-This is true lacquer, originating from the resin sap of the Asian tree Rhus verni- cifera. It has a long tradition of restoration use, primarily in Japan. It was used as early as 2500 B.C. for the repair of cracked earthenware, and its use continues into the 20th century (Nakasato 1988). Urushi has a clear yellow-brown appearance as a resin. In use, it was often mixed with pigments, and on ceramic repairs urushi was often coated with powdered gold (later burnished), or maki-e (pictorial) designs (fig. 7). No attempt was made to blend the fill in with the ceramic; in fact, the contrast presented by the original and the repair was esteemed. Urushi requires a very high humidity and a long time (24 hours) to set. It is irreversible and extremely toxic to work with. While aesthetically challenging for Western tastes, when coated with gold it is protected from oxidation and light and thus very stable. Other lacquer types found in China and Burma are less stable and have not been found as repairs. True urushi would allow the ceramic to be reused, a feature important in Japanese culture. By the late 20th century, with the advent of synthetic resin adhesives, urushi almost disappeared from use as a ceramic fill material. How- ever, it still has some traditional use, and is recently making a comeback (see section 6, Conclusions).

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