Lacquer & Japanning

Nowadays the term “lacquer” is applied to both Oriental Lacquer and European Japanned furniture.

The method applied to European furniture is called Japanning and generally consists of oil and spirit varnishes.

Oriental Lacquer (Urushi) is very different in appearance and is the closest natural substance to plastic, coming from the sap of a tree. Dominic Schuster Ltd use materials bought directly from Japan.

Westerners have often restored Oriental lacquered furniture with spirit varnishes (shellac), which is suitable for Japanned items but inhibits Oriental lacquer from breathing, causing long-term damage.

Much of Dominic Schuster Ltd’s work involves removing incorrect varnishes and poor restoration, consolidating surfaces, replacing and matching losses and reviving the original surface.

Click on our Antique Conservation Terms Glossary for additional technical and historical information.