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Points of caution in purchasing lacquerware

 

When you actually purchase lacquerware, what are the points that you should pay attention? This varies from person to person, so a wide range of factors are involved.

 

First, it is necessary to select the product that suits you by assessing the characteristics of lacquer. The product you should choose depends on which factor you stress more such as “a desire to buy genuine articles”, “price”, and “ease in handling”.

 

Selecting by the materials used
Lacquerware is created by coating natural lacquer on the object over and over again. Mostly, wood is used as the key base material. First, shitaji undercoats (the base of the lacquer layers) are applied. Then, the steps of “applying lacquer, drying, and polishing” are repeated.

 

Making lacquerware requires these delicate processes, thus these are generally done by hand. Also, it takes a long time to make, thus it is not conducive to mass production.

 

Some lacquerware uses synthetic resin. There are also some products that do not use lacquer at all. The materials used for lacquerware can be divided into three categories, which are “products made of natural wood”, “products made of a mixture of wood and synthetic resin”, and “products entirely made of synthetic resin”.

 

Synthetic resin can create inexpensive products. This is because mass production is possible with synthetic resin as it skips the step of creating a desired shape by shaving wood.

 

Also, the undercoats, applied on these materials, include ones that use lacquer as well as ones that use persimmon tannin. The undercoats made of persimmon tannin are cheaper, but the strength will be weaker compared to the undercoats made of lacquer. Although the shitaji undercoats are invisible, be aware that the materials used for this section vary according to each product.

 

Furthermore, there are many products that use a synthetic coating material. These products are coated with a coating material that brings out a similar luster as lacquer. Just because it is lacquerware, it does not necessarily mean that a product is created by layers of lacquer.

 

Because of these differences in lacquerware, it is also necessary to know the materials used. What people look for in lacquerware varies depending on the materials used for that product.

 

Selecting by ease of use and maintenance
If you insist on genuine articles, you can select lacquerware that uses natural wood and lacquer. But, a synthetic resin lacquerware can be better for some people. Therefore, just because “it’s not real”, it does not necessarily mean that the products made of synthetic resin and synthetic coating materials are bad.

 

First, lacquerware that uses natural materials are vulnerable to ultraviolet light, so direct sunlight should be avoided. Additionally, lacquer is an organic substance, so it picks up heat if used in a microwave oven. Therefore, the use of a microwave oven is not appropriate.

 

Furthermore, lacquer is also susceptible to dryness. Because of this, if it is left in a refrigerator for many days, it will cause deformation.

 

But, in the case of products made of synthetic resin, you can put them in a refrigerator without any problems. You can safely heat it up in a microwave as well. In terms of “ease of use and maintenance” in everyday life, products made of synthetic resin are much better.

 

Selecting by price
Your budget is also a vital factor. It is important to insist on genuine articles for some people, but the products that use wood and lacquer and are created by hand are expensive. If decorations are added, the value will further go up.

 

However, even though beautiful decorations are added in a similar manner, if synthetic resin or a synthetic coating material is used, the price will significantly come down.

 

Also, instead of making products entirely in Japan, there are some cases where products are made overseas up until a certain point in the process and then imported to Japan so that the products can be completed. This way, the price can be reduced while using natural wood and lacquer.

 

The standard of value on lacquerware is different according to each person. Some people might say that lacquerware is not real unless natural materials are used. Others might prefer a synthetic resin product by taking the ease of use into consideration. The key will be each person’s liking and sensibility.

 

A word of caution is that “sometimes, a synthetic resin product cannot be restored when it is damaged.” Lacquerware is restorable, but this is only when natural wood or lacquer is used.

 

Because of this, if you want to use a particular item for many years to come with restoration in consideration, in the long run, it can be cheaper to buy lacquerware that uses natural materials even though it might cost more.


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