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TAKASHI & NATSUKO SADAIKE
JAPANESE LACQUER ART (URUSHI ART)
Takashi and Natsuko Sadaike were both born into urushi art families. They first met at the Institute of Urushi Art in Wajima city. Both artisans are specialized in maki-e* . They are skilled across the whole range of urushi products (e.g. shrine and temple’s ornament, daily use urushi art crafts); they also craft the wood used for their artworks themselves, and do urushi style paintings.
*Maki-e is a decorative technique using urushi to draw patterns on a lacquered surface and then sprinkling with gold or silver powder.
ABOUT URUSHI
Urushi is one of the most durable natural lacquers available, made from the sap of the Urushi tree. It has been used for almost 9000 years, and popularly used for bowls, trays and boxes, amongst other things. The resin lacquer urushi adds durability and resilience to make these items last longer, as well as giving each item a beautiful glossy appearance. Its adhesive qualities are also used art for attaching decorations (e.g. gold powder, shell and eggshell). While a variety of decorative techniques have been developed throughout China, Korea, Myanmar and Japan, maki-e is a peculiarly Japanese technique which uses gold and silver powder to decorate the surface of the artwork.
Note: Urushi is usually mixed with other ingredients when used. For example, cloth, Japanese paper (washi) and also whetstone powders (jinoko and tonoko) add strength and smoothness. Contemporary urushi artisans are adding their own personal touch to their creations by drawing on techniques and knowledge from the past.

PRODUCT CONCEPT

The two artisans originally focused on designing and making products to order or on client request, rather than creating their own products. However, because they want to expand the audience for urushi art, and to show how it can be applied to the objects we use in everyday life, they have started to design and create modern everyday products and items of their own. From these products, we have selected a maki-e fashion accessory which uses traditional Japanese patterns for our collection. The classic colors used in urushi art are black and vermilion*; the addition of gold and silver to these colors gives the brooch an elegant and chic stylishness.
*Traditionally, the color vermilion was thought to ward off evil and bring good luck. It is often used for wedding plates.

PRODUCTION PROCESS

Painting and polishing brings out the gloss

Urushi differs from other materials used for coating because of the time it takes to dry and also the way in which it dries. When we used the word “dry”, we think about water evaporating. However, urushi dries by oxidation with moisture from the air. So the more humid it is, the faster it dries. The urushi drying process takes at least 12 - 24 hours. Generally urushi products have three stages of painting: the undercoat (shitaji-zukuri), the middle coat (nakanuri) and the final coat (uwanuri). Once painted, the artwork needs to be dried and polished with charcoal. Then it is painted again. By repeating this process over and over, urushi strengthens the artwork and adds an elegant gloss to it.

Beauty of maki-e patterns drawn with gold powder

Maki-e is one of the decorative techniques used with urushi products. Urushi is painted on the surface wherever the artist wants to add the gold or silver powder*. When the powder is sprinkled on, a picture or pattern is revealed, painted as it were with urushi (shown in the middle picture below). This is a specialty for the Sadaikes: maki-e requires specific painting techniques, with great skill required if more than two techniques are combined in one piece. Our collection is packed with maki-e painting examples.
Note: We introduce their products uses inlaid mother-of-pearl and eggshells, other than maki-e products.

  • After checking to see whether the surface has dried, the artisan polishes it with charcoal. This makes the urushi bond, as well as adding gloss to the surface.

  • This is a picture of the maki-e process (sprinkling gold powder in a pattern). After (vermilion) urushi is painted on, the artisan sprinkles gold powder onto the surface before it dries.

  • These are a few of the tools used for the general maki-e painting. Artisans select their tool according to the decorative technique used.