Knowledge of Maki-e (Description of Urushi)

“Maki-e”, the traditional Japanese craft technique, consists of items decorated by deposits of gold, platinum, and silver powders and coated in a high gloss clear Urushi materials.

Urushi obtained from the Urushi tree is collected and refined for “Maki-e” use.

This refined Urushi is obtained from the process of ”nayashi”( churning raw Urushi to process) and “kurome”( churning with applied heat). The finished Urushi is then divided into "transparent Urushi" and "black Urushi".

“Transparent Urushi” is light brown and transparent. Various colours can be obtained by mixing various pigments (for colored Urushi ) and oil.

“Black Urushi” is blackened as a result of the addition of iron.

Urushi mixed with oil has more luster but the strength and the quality deteriorate quicker. It appears similar to Urushi of high quality without oil after the process of Roiro finish for glossing. But, the strength and the quality of gloss are totally different.

To avoid becoming dry, Urushi is kept covered when not in use with wax paper inside the bowl or teacup of porcelain so that it will not become solid due to the exposure to air.