Vietnam Traditional Craft Village – Ha Thai

Ha Thai lacquer Village, the secret method of mixing various colors, the process of creating the lacquerware and particularly the technique of rubbing the lacquerware in water.

Another Vietnam Traditional Craft Village – Ha Thai lacquerware was started abour 200 years ago from generation to generation of family in the village. Since then,  many generations of lacquer artists have enhanced the quality of lacquerware up to now; discovering new materials to add to the palette of colored lacquers, the method of mixing various colors, the process of creating the lacquerware and particularly the technique of rubbing the lacquerware in water.

Ha Thai lacquer art, however, is an extremely time – consuming and labor – intensive work; it is the hard work of many people: Lacquer artists, lacquer painters, and many workers who shed their sweat to the fullest spending over 100 days through 20 stages to create the Ha Thai lacquerware. As a result, every Ha Thai lacquerware bears the feelings of its creator: flexibility, complexity and variety. The lacquerware seems to carry something now appears now disappears passionately, ardently and magically.

The Renovation of the Ha Thai Lacquerware Technique

Thai Ha Lacquer Village

Through many years of developing and perfecting, Ha Thai lacquer artists have increasingly created a variety of lacquerware which carry typically Vietnamese styles. These Ha Thai lacquerware entrepreneurs and lacquer artists now continue to produce exquisite dishes, utensils and an endless variety of other functional and decorative lacquerware pieces.

Actually, Ha Thai lacquerware are present worldwide and become a highly developing business with an annual turnover growing year – on – year and exporting to Europe, America, Japan, Australia, etc…

The Process Of Creating The Ha Thai Lacquerware

Ha Thai lacquer art is an extremely labor – intensive and time- consuming work. Every Ha Thai lacquerware usually goes through 20 stages not less than 100 days regardless it is a large picture or just some small lacquerware pieces such as bowls or even coasters. There are actually 3 kinds of lacquerware: Mother – of – pearl, eggshell, painting or any of the combination of these three.

Thai Ha Lacquer Craft Village

First of all, however, we must select the suitable wood for every Ha Thai lacquerware: rose, cherry or walnut wood for the furniture, screens or jewelry boxes, ebony for statues; jack fruit wood for boxes, bowls, plates and plywood for paintings. The wood then will be filled with a layer of natural lacquer which gradually seeps through to a core of wood to make it harder and against any rotting by insects.

Besides, the raw lacquerware also covered with a piece of gauze to prevent any crack or curving shape. Still the raw material will bear 5 more layers of lacquer to hide the gauze and to reach the necessary thickness. However, in between each layers of lacquer, the lacquer artist must wait until the lacquer get dried and then rub it in water. The work will be repeated many times (some times up to 15 lacquer layers or more) until the lacquerware becomes totally smooth.

Lacquer – Sources, Extraction, And Mixtures

The lacquer is a resin of the lacquer tree planted mostly in the Northern Vietnamese province of Phu Tho and has its scientific name: Rhus Succedanea. First extracted from a tree, the lacquer is white, condensed like milk then turning brown in the air and gradually becoming black when dried. Once hardened the lacquer forms a lustrous durable surface that is imperious to moisture, insects, and oxidization making it ideal for preserving materials, such as wood and bamboo. Actually, the lacquer tree is also planted in the highland Vietnamese province of Lam Dong to supply Southern market. From the natural lacquer, the lacquer artist will mix it with some mineral pigments to produce other kinds of lacquer: cockroach – colored lacquer, lacquer for sticking mother – of -pearl and eggshell and lacquer for covering on the top.

Mother – Of – Pearl Lacquerware

A variety of mother of pearl from the sea will be cut into different shapes with the thickness of about 2 mm each. The Vietnamese lacquerware artist then draws the designs over its surface and uses a coping saw to cut them into small pieces, which are eventually gathered and inlaid on the lacquerware.

Once being inlaid, the mother of pearl design is a bit thicker than the surface of the wood. Hence, the lacquerware artist will apply a mixture of natural lacquer and plaster to build up the lacquerware surface step by step until it reaches the same level.

Eggshell Lacquerware

Duck eggshell is specially applied in Vietnamese lacquerware and it is the shell of the ducks already hatched because of its thickness and whiteness. The eggshell will be stick onto the lacquerware following the ready – made design then filled with ten layers of lacquer and rubbed in water

Painting Lacquerware

The Vietnamese lacquerware artist will paint directly on the ready – treated wood by using the mineral pigments mixing with lacquer. Like the two other kinds of Vietnamese lacquerware, painted lacquerware will be filled with many layers of lacquer and rubbed in water until it becomes totally smooth. Lacquerware-polishing is the final stage.

Lacquer Ware Polishing

Lacquerware-polishing plays an important role in the Vietnamese lacquerware creation process. The lacquer ware, after many times rubbing in water is smooth but not shiny. Therefore, the lacquerware artist applies the palm of the hand together with abrasive as diverse as charcoal and iron oxide to polish the lacquerware. Polishing hardened lacquer with such materials & technique finally brings the lacquerware surface to a high gloss.

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