Sunday, June 21, 2009

I lived to tell the lacquer story

I didn't react to the lacquer! Granted, I thought I would pass out from the turpentine that it was mixed with. But no skin reactions. I had been so freaked out in anticipation, worried that I had to eat a raw egg yolk and massage it into my skin (a folk prevention method), and had dressed to cover myself head to toe in case of reaction, that I wore myself out. But hooray! The tea cups, chamber pot, and lamp are all in their finishing stages.

My weaving teacher brought his pieces as well, so it was interesting to see how the lacquer took on pieces that had no finish, that had rice glue finish, and that had rice glue finish that had set for a long time (about a year). The colors were all different. I didn't do a great job but thankfully my teachers will take care of the remaining coats so that I don't have to make more trips out to the papermill.

We decided to use persimmon dye for the lamp, so my hanji teacher took a utility knife and cut through the hanji covering the platform we were sitting on to reveal a trap door to a basement where he stored the dye he got from Japan. Totally like a secret lair. It was amazing stuff b/c the color took right away (usu persimmon dye looks like white liquid, and the color doesn't appear until days in direct sunlight) AND it didn't stink to high heaven (usu it smells like vinegar gone bad).

We kind of cheated when doing the persimmon dye by pouring it in and rolling the lamps around rather than brushing since the pieces were so big. Then we hung them to drip dry in the sun. In the meantime, we looked around at the new construction on site, projects in progress, and some documents that my hanji teacher bought for research that were hundreds of years old. The most amazing being the thick paper that was dyed a brilliant red - it had to have been natural dye, but you can't even get that color nowadays.

My weaving teacher tricked me into eating green plums off of two different trees. SO SOUR. The whole place was green, things growing everywhere. Then we went out for a nice solid dinner of gelatin on bones and I got more history lessons. My hanji teacher then bought us tofu and acorn snacks. My weaving teacher and I got stuck in awful traffic (Sunday night - everyone returning home from a weekend out of Seoul), but we set a date for final delivery of the finished pieces and my farewell party w/my weaving teacher, his wife, my hanji teacher, and his two kids. I can't believe this particular chapter is ending so soon!

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