Japanning with tutor Alex Schouvaloff

In one of our covid-secure conservation labs, and wearing their protective face coverings, students on the BA (Hons) Conservation: Stone Wood & Decorative Surfaces course have been taking part in a workshop to learn the historic craft skills of japanning with specialist tutor Alex Schouvaloff.

The purpose of this japanning exercise is to gain experience of working with paint and varnish, both traditional and modern, to understand the specific decorative techniques of both japanning and oriental lacquer. Skills learnt here not only help students understand the associated conservation and restoration principles but will also provide and hone many transferable skills.

Students learn the similarities and differences between Oriental lacquer (Urushi) and European simulations (japanning) and the fundamental principles of the lacquering process and its development in Europe since the 17th century. They also learn how to apply paint and varnish layers in an appropriate manner, gain a thorough understanding of historic and modern materials and their conservation and restoration context, explore styles and iconography of japanned and lacquered surfaces and document photographically at each stage which they will then annotate and produce a written process log.



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