Lacquer Process at Huong Nga Fine Arts

The traditional lacquer process practiced in Vietnam is quite complicated and can take up to 4 months to finish but one piece. Even a simple tray takes a minimum of 75 days. The stages are:

1. The shape, made from either fibreboard or raw timber, is examined and any cracks or indentations are sealed with lacquer from the native lacquer tree (“rhus seccedanea” tree, “anacardium occidentale” tree family) in Phu Tho Province, located northeast of Hanoi.

2. After checking that the lacquer has not affected the intended shape of the item, the product is covered with fine cotton gauze to ensure that there will be no cracking at a later stage.

3. Next, the piece is covered with a thick coating which is a mixture of natural lacquer, finely ground mountain rock, sawdust, and alluvial soil.

4. When this coating has dried, the product is placed under fresh water and sanded.

5. Using a brush made from natural fibres, a mixture of alluvial soil and natural lacquer is painted onto the product.

6. Step 4 and 5 are repeated.

7. The product is covered with pure natural lacquer.

8. Lacquer is beaten for 24 hours to form a glutinous mixture. This mixture is then applied to the piece as a thick coating.

9. Once again, the product is sanded under water.

10. Step 8 and 9 are repeated several times.

11. The base design is stenciled in and the details are painted by hand, which makes every lacquer product an original piece. No two pieces are exactly alike.

12. The bare surface area is painted with traditional lacquer and the areas with design are painted with clear lacquer.

13. Step 12 is repeated several times.

14. The product is polished.

15. Hinges and locks are fitted.

16. The logo is stenciled onto the base of the product. The piece is carefully inspected and packed.

Each creation from Huong Nga Fine Arts is the result of a time-honoured handmade process. Our lacquerwares are completely made by hand in Vietnam. No two pieces are exactly alike. They have 13 layers of coating which makes them very durable. However lacquers should be handled carefully. Please find in Lacquer Care a few simple instructions to keep them in perfect conditions for many years.