Art of Lacquer

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Art of Lacquer

The art of lacquerwareHanoia strives to tell stories honouring skillful and passionate Vietnamese artisans. They are considered “treasures” of Vietnamese lacquerware, or “living handbooks” of ancient techniques.

Dating back several thousand years in Chinese history, the art of lacquer can claim to be one of the most ancient and venerable expressions of Asian culture. The traditional techniques of lacquer were naturally conveyed along the many trade routes that linked China with its neighbours and rapidly spread to other Asian countries including Vietnam.

Vietnamese lacquer art is an extremely labour – intensive and time – consuming work. Every Vietnamese lacquerware has to go through 20 stages not less than 100 days regardless of if it is a large picture or just some small pieces. The creation process starts with the selection of a suitable wood for each lacquerware. The wood will then be filled with a layer of natural lacquer which gradually seeps through to the core of wood to make it harder and against any rotting by insects. In Vietnam, lacquer trees are planted mostly in the Northern Province of Phu Tho. First extracted from the tree, the lacquer is white, like condensed milk then turns brown in the air and gradually becomes black when dried. After that, the raw lacquerware continues to be covered with a piece of gauze to prevent any cracks or alterations to the shape. Still the material will bear five more layers of lacquer to hide the gauze and to reach the necessary thickness. However, in between each layer of lacquer, the craftsmen must wait until the lacquer gets dried and then rubs it in water. The work will be repeated many times (sometimes up to 15 layers or more) until the lacquerware becomes totally smooth. Depending on the design of each product, the craftsmen will decide the decoration step accordingly.

Today, facing the spirit of modern life, some traditional materials (natural wood, lacquer resin) have been changed to the new ones (MDF, industrial paints), but the meticulous lacquering process remains intact.

Inspired by the secrets of Vietnamese lacquer tradition, Hanoia has cherished a desire to bring this art form closer to the daily life, through a variety of products ranging from home décor to jewelry. Featuring a harmonious blend between West and East, modern and traditional, each piece of work is high-quality, functional, contemporary and encompasses the rich culture of Vietnam.

Each Hanoia’s product is worth a gift of time because it has gone through many hand-made stages which require the patience, the concentration and the skills of craftsmen. By creating a rich palette and unique lacquer techniques, they have made the own character for Hanoia.