lacquer
   HOME

TheInfoList



Lacquer is a type of hard and potentially shiny
coating A coating is a covering that is applied to the surface of an object, usually referred to as the substrate Substrate may refer to: Physical layers *Substrate (biology), the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the surface or medium ...
or finish applied to materials such as wood or metal. The term originates from the
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; , , ) is a of that belongs to the branch of the . It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had there from the northwest in the late . Sanskrit is the of , the language of classical , and of h ...

Sanskrit
word ''
lākshā
lākshā
'' (लाक्षा), representing the number one hundred thousand (100,000), which was used for both the
lac insect ''Kerriidae'' is a family of scale insects Scale insects are small insects of the Order (biology), order Hemiptera, suborder Sternorrhyncha. Of dramatically variable appearance and extreme sexual dimorphism, they comprise the Taxonomic rank, su ...
(because of their enormous number) and the scarlet resinous secretion, rich in
shellac Shellac () is a resin In polymer chemistry and materials science, resin is a solid or highly Viscosity, viscous substance of plant or synthetic origin that is typically convertible into polymers. Resins are usually mixtures of organic comp ...
that it produces, used as wood finish in ancient India and neighbouring areas. Asian
lacquerware Lacquerware are objects decoratively covered with lacquer. Lacquerware includes small or large containers, tableware, a variety of small objects carried by people, and larger objects such as furniture and even coffins painted with lacquer. Befor ...

lacquerware
, which may be called "true lacquer", are objects coated with the treated, dyed and dried sap of ''
Toxicodendron vernicifluum ''Toxicodendron vernicifluum'' (formerly ''Rhus verniciflua''), also known by the common name Chinese lacquer tree, is an Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern ...
'' or related trees, applied in several coats to a base that is usually wood. This dries to a very hard and smooth surface layer which is durable, waterproof, and attractive in feel and look. Asian lacquer is sometimes painted with pictures, inlaid with shell and other materials, or carved, as well as dusted with gold and given other further decorative treatments. In modern techniques, lacquer means a range of clear or pigmented
coating A coating is a covering that is applied to the surface of an object, usually referred to as the substrate Substrate may refer to: Physical layers *Substrate (biology), the natural environment in which an organism lives, or the surface or medium ...
s that dry by solvent evaporation to produce a hard, durable finish. The finish can be of any sheen level from ultra matte to high gloss, and it can be further polished as required. Lacquer finishes are usually harder and more brittle than oil-based or latex paints, and are typically used on hard and smooth surfaces. In terms of modern finishing products, finishes based on shellac dissolved in
alcohol In , alcohol is an that carries at least one (−OH) bound to a atom. The term alcohol originally referred to the primary alcohol (ethyl alcohol), which is and is the main alcohol present in s. An important class of alcohols, of which ...

alcohol
are often called ''shellac'' or ''lac'' to distinguish them from synthetic lacquer, often called simply ''lacquer'', which consists of synthetic
polymers A polymer (; Greek ''poly- Poly, from the Greek :wikt:πολύς, πολύς meaning "many" or "much", may refer to: Businesses * China Poly Group Corporation, a Chinese business group, and its subsidiaries: ** Poly Property, a Hong Kong inco ...

polymers
(such as
nitrocellulose Nitrocellulose (also known as cellulose nitrate, flash paper, flash cotton, guncotton, pyroxylin and flash string, depending on form) is a highly flammable compound formed by nitrating In organic chemistry, nitration is a general class of chemi ...

nitrocellulose
,
cellulose acetate butyrate
cellulose acetate butyrate
("CAB"), or
acrylic resin 186 px, Polyhydroxyethylmethacrylate is a typical acrylate resin. An Acrylic resin is a thermoplastic A thermoplastic, or thermosoftening plastic, is a plastic polymer material that becomes pliable or moldable at a certain elevated temperature a ...
) dissolved in ''
lacquer thinnerLacquer thinner, also known as cellulose thinner, is usually a mixture of solvents able to dissolve a number of different resins or plastics used in modern lacquer The term lacquer is used for a number of hard and potentially shiny finishes appl ...
'', a mixture of various organic
solvent A solvent (from the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the ...

solvent
s. Although synthetic lacquer is more durable than shellac, traditional shellac finishes are nevertheless often preferred for their aesthetic characteristics, as with
French polish French polishing is a wood finishing A worker sprays a urethane finish onto a timber Wood finishing refers to the process of refining or protecting a wood Wood is a porous and fibrous structural tissue found in the Plant stem, stems and ...
, as well as their "all-natural" and generally food-safe ingredients.


Etymology

The English ''lacquer'' is from the archaic
French
French
word ''lacre'' "a kind of sealing wax", from
Portuguese Portuguese may refer to: * anything of, from, or related to the country and nation of Portugal ** Portuguese cuisine, traditional foods ** Portuguese language, a Romance language *** Portuguese dialects, variants of the Portuguese language ** Portug ...

Portuguese
''lacre'', itself an unexplained variant of
Medieval Latin Medieval Latin was the form of Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the p ...
''lacca'' "resinous substance" from
Arabic Arabic (, ' or , ' or ) is a Semitic language The Semitic languages are a branch of the Afroasiatic language family originating in the Middle East The Middle East is a list of transcontinental countries, transcontinental region ...

Arabic
''lakk'', from
Persian Persian may refer to: * People and things from Iran, historically called ''Persia'' in the English language ** Persians, Persian people, the majority ethnic group in Iran, not to be conflated with the Iranian peoples ** Persian language, an Iranian ...
''lak'', from Hindi ''lakh'' (Prakrit ''lakkha''). These ultimately derive from
Sanskrit Sanskrit (; attributively , ; , , ) is a of that belongs to the branch of the . It arose in South Asia after its predecessor languages had there from the northwest in the late . Sanskrit is the of , the language of classical , and of h ...

Sanskrit
''lākshā'' (लाक्षा), which was used for both the
Lac Resin secreted by the female lac bug on trees is processed and sold as dry flakes. Lac is the resinous secretion of a number of species of lac insects, of which the most commonly cultivated is '' Kerria lacca''. Cultivation begins when a farmer ...

Lac
insect and the scarlet resinous secretion it produces that was used as wood finish. Lac resin was once imported in sizeable quantity into Europe from India along with Eastern woods.


Sheen measurement

Lacquer sheen is a measurement of the shine for a given lacquer.Wood Finishers Depot: Lacquer Sheen
Different manufacturers have their own names and standards for their sheen. The most common names from least shiny to most shiny are: flat, matte, egg shell, satin, semi-gloss, and gloss (high).


Shellac-based lacquers

In India the insect lac, or
shellac Shellac () is a resin In polymer chemistry and materials science, resin is a solid or highly Viscosity, viscous substance of plant or synthetic origin that is typically convertible into polymers. Resins are usually mixtures of organic comp ...
was used since ancient times. Shellac is the secretion of the lac bug (''Tachardia lacca'' Kerr. or ''Laccifer lacca''). It is used for the production of a red dye and pigment (red lake), and for the production of different grades of shellac, used in surface coating.


Urushiol-based lacquers

Urushiol Urushiol is an oily mixture of organic compounds with Allergic contact dermatitis, allergenic properties found in plants of the Family (biology), family Anacardiaceae, especially ''Toxicodendron'' ''spp.'' (e.g., poison oak, Toxicodendron vernici ...

Urushiol
-based lacquers differ from most others, being slow-drying, and set by
oxidation (mild reducing agent) are added to powdered potassium permanganate Potassium permanganate is an inorganic compound with the chemical formula KMnO4 and composed of potassium ion, K+ and permanganate, . It is a purplish-black crystalline salt, ...

oxidation
and
polymerization In polymer chemistry, polymerization (American English), or polymerisation (British English), is a process of reacting monomer, monomer molecules together in a chemical reaction to form polymer chains or three-dimensional networks.Clayden, J ...
, rather than by
evaporation Evaporation is a type of that occurs on the of a as it changes into the gas phase. The surrounding gas must not be saturated with the evaporating substance. When the molecules of the liquid collide, they transfer energy to each other bas ...

evaporation
alone. The active ingredient of the resin is
urushiol Urushiol is an oily mixture of organic compounds with Allergic contact dermatitis, allergenic properties found in plants of the Family (biology), family Anacardiaceae, especially ''Toxicodendron'' ''spp.'' (e.g., poison oak, Toxicodendron vernici ...

urushiol
, a mixture of various phenols suspended in water, plus a few proteins. In order for it to set properly it requires a humid and warm environment. The phenols oxidize and polymerize under the action of
laccase Laccases () are multicopper oxidases found in plants, fungi, and bacteria. Laccases oxidize a variety of phenolic substrates, performing one-electron oxidation (mild reducing agent) are added to powdered potassium permanganate Potassium per ...
enzymes, yielding a substrate that, upon proper evaporation of its water content, is hard. These lacquers produce very hard, durable finishes that are both beautiful and very resistant to damage by water, acid, alkali or abrasion. The resin is derived from trees indigenous to East Asia, like lacquer tree ''
Toxicodendron vernicifluum ''Toxicodendron vernicifluum'' (formerly ''Rhus verniciflua''), also known by the common name Chinese lacquer tree, is an Asia Asia () is Earth's largest and most populous continent, located primarily in the Eastern Hemisphere, Eastern ...
'', and wax tree ''
Toxicodendron succedaneum ''Toxicodendron succedaneum'', the wax tree, Japanese Hazenoki tree (Sumac or wax tree), sơn in Vietnam or charão in Portuguese, is a flowering plant species in the genus ''Toxicodendron'' found in Asia, although it has been planted elsewhere, m ...

Toxicodendron succedaneum
''. The fresh resin from the ''T. vernicifluum'' trees causes
urushiol-induced contact dermatitis Urushiol-induced contact dermatitis (also called Toxicodendron dermatitis or Rhus dermatitis) is a type of allergic contact dermatitis caused by the oil urushiol found in various plants, most notably species of the genus ''Toxicodendron'': poison i ...
and great care is therefore required in its use. The Chinese treated the allergic reaction with crushed shellfish, which supposedly prevents lacquer from drying properly. Lacquer skills became very highly developed in Asia, and many highly decorated pieces were produced. It has been confirmed that the lacquer tree has existed in Japan since 12,600 years ago in the incipient
Jōmon period The is the time in Japanese prehistory Japanese may refer to: * Something from or related to Japan , image_flag = Flag of Japan.svg , alt_flag = Centered deep red circle on a white rectangle , image_ ...
. This was confirmed by radioactive carbon dating of the lacquer tree found at the Torihama shell mound, and is the oldest lacquer tree in the world found as of 2011.1万2千年前のウルシ木片 世界最古、福井で出土
The Nikkei, November 6, 2011
Lacquer was used in Japan as early as 7000 BCE, during the Jōmon period. Evidence for the earliest lacquerware was discovered at the Kakinoshima "B" Excavation Site in Hokkaido. The ornaments woven with lacquered red thread were discovered in a pit grave dating from the first half of the Initial Jōmon period. Also, at Kakinoshima "A" Excavation Site, earthenware with a spout painted with vermilion lacquer, which was made 3200 years ago, was found almost completely intact.Kakinoshima Jomon Archaeological Site
/ref> During the Shang Dynasty (1600–1046 BC), the sophisticated techniques used in the lacquer process were first developed and it became a highly artistic craft, although various prehistoric
lacquerware Lacquerware are objects decoratively covered with lacquer. Lacquerware includes small or large containers, tableware, a variety of small objects carried by people, and larger objects such as furniture and even coffins painted with lacquer. Befor ...

lacquerware
s have been unearthed in China dating back to the Neolithic period. The earliest extant Chinese lacquer object, a red wooden bowl, was unearthed at a Hemudu culture (5000–4500 BC) site in China. By the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD), many centres of lacquer production became firmly established. The knowledge of the Chinese methods of the lacquer process spread from China during the Han dynasty, Han, Tang Dynasty, Tang and Song Dynasty, Song dynasties. Eventually it was introduced to Korea, Japan, Southeast and South Asia. Trade of lacquer objects travelled through various routes to the Middle East. Known applications of lacquer in China included coffins, music instruments, furniture, and various household items. Lacquer mixed with powdered cinnabar is used to produce the traditional red lacquerware from China. From the 16th century to the 17th century, lacquer was introduced to Europe on a large scale for the first time through Nanban trade, trade with Japanese. Until the 19th century, lacquerware was one of Japan's major exports, and European royalty, aristocrats and religious people represented by Marie-Antoinette, Maria Theresa and Society of Jesus, The Society of Jesus collected Japanese lacquerware luxuriously decorated with maki-e.Masayuki Murata. ''明治工芸入門'' p.24. Me no Me, 2017 The terms related to lacquer such as "Japanning", "
Urushiol Urushiol is an oily mixture of organic compounds with Allergic contact dermatitis, allergenic properties found in plants of the Family (biology), family Anacardiaceae, especially ''Toxicodendron'' ''spp.'' (e.g., poison oak, Toxicodendron vernici ...

Urushiol
" and "''maque''" which means lacquer in Mexican Spanish, are derived from Japanese. The trees must be at least ten years old before cutting to bleed the resin. It sets by a process called "aqua-polymerization", absorbing oxygen to set; placing in a humid environment allows it to absorb more oxygen from the evaporation of the water. Lacquer-yielding trees in Thailand, Vietnam, Burma and Taiwan, called Melanorrhoea usitata, Thitsi, are slightly different; they do not contain urushiol, but similar substances called "laccol" or "thitsiol". The end result is similar but softer than the Chinese or Japanese lacquer. Burmese lacquer sets slower, and is painted by craftsmen's hands without using brushes. Raw lacquer can be "coloured" by the addition of small amounts of iron oxides, giving red or black depending on the oxide. There is some evidence that its use is even older than 8,000 years from archaeological digs in Japan and China. Later, pigments were added to make colours. It is used not only as a finish, but mixed with ground fired and unfired clays applied to a mould with layers of hemp cloth, it can produce objects without need for another core like wood. The process is called "kanshitsu" in Japan. In the lacquering of the Chinese musical instrument, the guqin, the lacquer is mixed with deer horn powder (or ceramic powder) to give it more strength so it can stand up to the fingering. There are a number of forms of urushiol. They vary by the length of the R chain, which depends on the species of plant producing the urushiol. Urushiol can also vary in the degree of saturation in the carbon chain. Urushiol can be drawn as follows: , where: R = (CH2)14CH3 or
R = (CH2)7CH=CH(CH2)5CH3 or
R = (CH2)7CH=CHCH2CH=CH(CH2)2CH3 or
R = (CH2)7CH=CHCH2CH=CHCH=CHCH3 or
R = (CH2)7CH=CHCH2CH=CHCH2CH=CH2


Gallery

File:Armorial screen.jpg, Armorial screen File:Oval Tray (Duoyuan Pan) with Pavilion on a Garden Terrace LACMA M.81.125.1.jpg, A Chinese carved lacquer oval tray, Yuan Dynasty, ca. 13th century. File:Freer 002.jpg, Ming Dynasty Chinese
lacquerware Lacquerware are objects decoratively covered with lacquer. Lacquerware includes small or large containers, tableware, a variety of small objects carried by people, and larger objects such as furniture and even coffins painted with lacquer. Befor ...

lacquerware
container, dated 16th century. File:나전 칠 모란 넝쿨 무늬 옷상자-조선-螺鈿漆牡丹唐草文衣箱子 朝鮮-Clothing box decorated with peony scrolls MET DP704158.jpg, Clothing box decorated with peony scrolls, Joseon Dynasty Korea, 17th century. File:壽字吉祥文蒔絵印籠 - Inrō with the Characters for Longevity and Good Fortune and the “Seven Lucky Treasures” on Checkerboard Ground.jpg, in maki-e Lacquer, Edo period Japan, 18th century 竹貼源氏蒔絵提重-Picnic Box with Design of the Scene from the Tale of Genji in Maki-e Lacquer.jpg, Picnic Box with Design of the Scene from ''The Tale of Genji'' in Maki-e Lacquer, Edo or Meiji period Japan, 19th century


Types of lacquer

Types of lacquer vary from place to place but they can be divided into unprocessed and processed categories. The basic unprocessed lacquer is called ''raw lacquer'' (生漆: ''ki-urushi'' in Japanese, ''shengqi'' in Chinese). This is directly from the tree itself with some impurities filtered out. Raw lacquer has a water content of around 25% and appears in a light brown colour. This comes in a standard grade made from Chinese lacquer, which is generally used for ground layers by mixing with a powder, and a high quality grade made from Japanese lacquer called ''kijomi-urushi'' (生正味漆) which is used for the last finishing layers. The processed form (in which the lacquer is stirred continuously until much of the water content has evaporated) is called ''guangqi'' (光漆) in Chinese but comes under many different Japanese names depending on the variation, for example, ''kijiro-urushi'' (木地呂漆) is standard transparent lacquer sometimes used with pigments and ''roiro-urushi'' (黒呂色漆) is the same but pre-mixed with iron hydroxide to produce a black coloured lacquer. ''Nashiji-urushi'' (梨子地漆) is the transparent lacquer but mixed with gamboge to create a yellow-tinged lacquer and is especially used for the sprinkled-gold technique. These lacquers are generally used for the middle layers. Japanese lacquers of this type are generally used for the top layers and are prefixed by the word ''jo-'' (上) which means 'top (layer)'. Processed lacquers can have oil added to them to make them glossy, for example, ''shuai-urushi'' (朱合漆) is mixed with linseed oil. Other specialist lacquers include ''ikkake-urushi'' (釦漆) which is thick and used mainly for applying gold or silver leaf.


Nitrocellulose lacquers

Solvent-based lacquers that contain
nitrocellulose Nitrocellulose (also known as cellulose nitrate, flash paper, flash cotton, guncotton, pyroxylin and flash string, depending on form) is a highly flammable compound formed by nitrating In organic chemistry, nitration is a general class of chemi ...

nitrocellulose
, a resin obtained from the nitration of cotton and other cellulose, cellulosic materials, debuted in the 19th century along with nitrocellulose's other commercial applications. They were used, for example, on brass items such as musical instruments. Faster-drying and more durable versions of these lacquers were developed in the early 1920s and soon greatly displaced much use of the slower-drying paints and lacquers that preceded them; they were extensively used in the automotive industry and others for the next 30 years until further chemical advancements replaced them. Prior to their introduction, mass-produced automotive finishes were limited in colour, damaged easily, and took a long time to dry, with Japan black being the fastest drying and thus the most economical to use. In 1923, General Motors' Oakland Motor Car Company, Oakland brand automobile was the first to introduce one of the new fast-drying nitrocellulose lacquers, a bright blue, produced by DuPont under their Duco tradename. In 1924 the other GM makes followed suit, and by 1925 nitrocellulose lacquers were thoroughly disrupting the traditional paint business for automobiles, appliances, furniture, musical instruments, caskets, and other products. Nitrocellulose lacquers are also used to make firework fuses waterproof. The nitrocellulose and other resins and plasticizers are dissolved in the solvent, and each coat of lacquer dissolves some of the previous coat. These lacquers were a huge improvement over earlier automobile and furniture finishes, both in ease of application and in colour retention. The preferred method of applying quick-drying lacquers is by spraying, and the development of nitrocellulose lacquers led to the first extensive use of spray guns. Nitrocellulose lacquers produce a hard yet flexible, durable finish that can be polished to a high sheen. Drawbacks of these lacquers include the hazardous nature of the solvent, which is flammable and toxic, and the hazards of nitrocellulose in the manufacturing process. Lacquer grade of soluble nitrocellulose is closely related to the more highly nitrated form which is used to make explosives. They become relatively non-toxic after approximately a month since, at this point, the lacquer has evaporated most of the solvents used in its production.


Acrylic lacquers

Lacquers using
acrylic resin 186 px, Polyhydroxyethylmethacrylate is a typical acrylate resin. An Acrylic resin is a thermoplastic A thermoplastic, or thermosoftening plastic, is a plastic polymer material that becomes pliable or moldable at a certain elevated temperature a ...
, a synthetic polymer, were developed in the 1950s. Acrylic resin is colourless, transparent thermoplastic, obtained by the polymerization of derivatives of acrylic acid. Acrylic is also used in enamel paints, which have the advantage of not needing to be buffed to obtain a shine. Enamels, however, are slow drying. The advantage of acrylic lacquer is its exceptionally fast drying time. The use of lacquers in automotive paint, automobile finishes was discontinued when tougher, more durable, weather- and chemical-resistant two-component polyurethane coatings were developed. The system usually consists of a primer, colour coat and clear topcoat, commonly known as clear coat finishes.


Water-based lacquers

Due to health risks and environmental considerations involved in the use of solvent-based lacquers, much work has gone into the development of water-based lacquers. Such lacquers are considerably less toxic and more environmentally friendly, and in many cases, produce acceptable results. While water-based lacquer's fumes are considerably less hazardous, and it does not have the combustibility issues of solvent-based lacquers, the product still dries fairly quickly. Even though its odor is weaker, water-based lacquers can still produce airborne particulates that can get into the lungs, so proper protective wear still needs to be worn. More and more water-based colored lacquers are replacing solvent-based clear and colored lacquers in under-hood and interior applications in the automobile and other similar industrial applications. Water-based lacquers are used extensively in wood furniture finishing as well. One drawback of water-based lacquer is that it has a tendency to be highly reactive to other fresh finishes such as quick-dry primer (excluding waterborne lacquer primers), caulking and even some paints that have a paint/primer aspect. Tannin bleed-through can also be an issue, depending on the brand of lacquer used. Once it happens, there is no easy fix as the lacquer is so reactive to other products. Water-based lacquer used for wood finishing is also not rated for exterior wear, unless otherwise specified.


Japanning

Just as ''china'' is a common name for porcelain, ''japanning'' is an old name to describe the European technique to imitate Asian
lacquerware Lacquerware are objects decoratively covered with lacquer. Lacquerware includes small or large containers, tableware, a variety of small objects carried by people, and larger objects such as furniture and even coffins painted with lacquer. Befor ...

lacquerware
.Niimura, Noriyasu; Miyakoshi, Tetsuo (2003)
Characterization of Natural Resin Films and Identification of Ancient Coating
. ''J. Mass Spectrom. Soc. Jpn''. 51, 440. .
As Asian lacquer work became popular in England, France, the Netherlands, and Spain in the 17th century, the Europeans developed imitation techniques. The European technique, which is used on furniture and other objects, uses finishes that have a resin base similar to shellac. The technique, which became known as japanning, involves applying several coats of varnish which are each heat-dried and polished. In the 18th century, japanning gained a large popular following. Although traditionally a pottery and wood coating, japanning was the popular (mostly black) coating of the accelerating metalware industry. By the twentieth century, the term was freely applied to coatings based on various varnishes and lacquers besides the traditional shellac.


See also

* Lacquerware * Varnish * Acetate disc * Lacquer painting


References


Further reading

* p. 1050 * – A concise compilation of technical terms. Attached is a register of all German terms with their corresponding English terms and vice versa, in order to facilitate its use as a means for technical translation from one language to the other. * – A Comprehensive Guide to the Technology and Conservation of Asian and European Lacquer * Michiko, Suganuma. "Japanese lacquer". {{Authority control Chinese inventions Coatings Decorative arts Non-timber forest products Paints, * Resins