Offbeat Wajima Lacquerware to Benefit Today’s Users-2
ISHIKAWA – A New Series of Wajima-nuri Lacquerware “Urushi-Coated Cloth Plate” (Continued from Offbeat Wajima Lacquerware to Benefit Today’s Users-1)
Along with the Makiji series, which features strong and rough surfaces, Wajima Kirimoto developed another type of new Wajima-nuri lacquerware product.
In his “Urushi Lacquer-Coated Cloth Plate” series, thick linen cloth is pasted onto a wooden plate. A blend of Urushi lacquer, rice paste, soil (diatomaceous earth) and polishing powder laminates the surface of the cloth. You can see the linen cloth pattern beneath. By adding colors to the lacquer blend, a plate can be two-tone. When you serve up the plate with vegetables and meat, it looks like real Italian cuisine served at an Italian restaurant. Food on a China dish is pretty, but with this plate you can enjoy Japanese cuisine enabled by the combination of wood and lacquer.
How is Wajima-nuri lacquerware made, by the way? In basic terms, the industry is based on a system of division of labor. The whole process consists of more than 100 steps, and one product takes six months to several years to complete. Making traditional Wajima-nuri lacquerware can be divided into three main stages: shaping the base wood by carving; coating the base with lacquer; and putting an ornamental design onto the surface.
Junko Kirimoro toured the factory to show us the details of the first stage. “When you use Wajima-nuri lacquerware, your hands and lips will feel pleasant. Then the positive feeling will be signaled to your brain, energizing and motivating you further. This will help your life to become richer,” Junko said. “We want to craft a product that brings comfort to your ordinary life.”
The shape of the base wood varies. Some products require curves to make their round shapes. Other square products need to be completely precise in size so that their corners fit together with no gaps. Precision is the topmost priority. Since the product will be used to hold liquids, leaks aren’t acceptable. When I held the wooden base of a bowl, its surface perfectly fitted to my hands, warming my palms. What great craftsmanship!