JAIC 1998, Volume 37, Number 1, Article 9 (pp. 117 to 133)
JAIC online
Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1998, Volume 37, Number 1, Article 9 (pp. 117 to 133)

METHODS AND MATERIALS FOR FILLING LOSSES ON LACQUER OBJECTS

MARIANNE WEBB



1 INTRODUCTION

Whether the lacquer artifact is a study piece or of prime importance, adding material to the original is not to be undertaken lightly. It may not be necessary to fill in a loss if the surrounding area is stable and the edges are not exposed. But if the edges are friable, infill is essential to protect the object from losses and further damage. A fill can help maintain the integrity of the surface as well as improve the aesthetics. Often filling in losses helps to improve the viewers' understanding of the piece as well.

For lacquer infills, the first consideration is the type of lacquer. Asian lacquer, known as urushi in Japanese, is quite different from the myriad of resins used to produce European and American lacquer, also known as japanning. Because these two materials are often misidentified, it is important that they be distinguished and treated appropriately. This article is divided into two parts: fills for Asian lacquer and fills for Western lacquer. When the material is unknown, chemical analysis should be under taken prior to commencing treatment (Derrick et al. 1985; Jaeschke 1994).

Throughout this article many Japanese terms have been used. Naturally other Asian languages have their own terms for the fabrication and restoration of lacquerware. The Japanese terms selected for this article have been due to the author's personal experience in Japan and the recent availability of English translations of Japanese literature on lacquerware.


Copyright 1998 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works