My New Year’s project – overhauling one of my tanago rods – is coming on nicely. At a critical moment I ran out of one of the essentials for this sort of lacquering, KimWipes™. A quick journey on the Tokyo Metro to Watanabe Shoten sorted me out, and I laid in some tubes of raw lacquer as well. If you are a regular customer most Japanese businesses will give you a New Year’s gift with your first purchase of the year, perhaps to ensure loyalty. In this case I was very kindly given some candied peanuts.
The rod itself is really starting to take on a rich, deep sheen – a kind of hue you can only really achieve with real lacquer. It is difficult to take good pictures of such a small rod but hopefully you can get some idea of the lacquering from these two photos.
To give the rod pieces some idea of scale, here they are in my hand:
Of course it has been a while since I was using this lacquering technique and it utilises raw lacquer, the strongest and most allergenic of all the varieties used in rod making. I took the precaution of laying in some steroidal anti-itch cream, after trying several brands I have found this one to have the least side-effects and be the best for the very particular bodily reaction to urushi lacquer:
Raw unprocessed lacquer will bind irreversibly to and literally peel the skin off your fingertips in patches – as you can see from my index finger here. This cream is available OTC and is not too strong but does the job in calming the hideous inflammatory response of the skin. One’s resistance to urushiol builds up with time so hopefully I don’t have to use this stuff too much.