Urushi lacquering

my shirogisu whiting rod.

The ground layer, fully dried.  This layer is intended only to form a foundation for the following coloured lacquer and so does not look particularly impressive.

One coat of coloured nashiji lacquer on the rod.  At the risk of exposing myself to accusations of coxcombry, I was surprised at how rich and deep the lacquer colour came out after only one layer.  Usually it takes me three or more layers to get this kind of rich colour, and although I did everything as per normal it came out much better than I expected after just one.

Everything comes at a price.  The reddish-brown lacquer is applied to the bamboo with one’s fingers, and despite several washes in neat turpentine and great scrubbing in hot soap’n’water, my fingertips were lacquered almost as surely as my rod.  Purely from the aspect of natural philosophy, it is interesting as the lacquer never leaves your skin, and one must wait till the topmost layer of epidermis sloughs off before the skin is restored to its native state.  This takes a few days, with a few bouts of dermatitis in between to take one’s mind off proceedings.  Fortunately I have two secret remedies – one a native cure, taught me by a professional rod-maker here in Tokyo, the other won through personal experimentation and a background in pharmacognosy – for the more unpleasant aspects of urushiol-induced skin irritation, and I seemed to have built up a tolerance for the lacquer over the last year or so.

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