top of page


"Lacquering" is ancient, dating back 8000 years. It involves the painstaking extraction of resin from Asian lacquer trees to coat, protect and decorate wooden objects and furniture. Applying this precious resin in multiple layers and dyed into a wide range of colours, meant that for much of history lacquering was an expensive, laborious technique reserved for the elite.

The process begins with harvesting the sap of the Chinese lacquer tree, botanically know as,
Toxicodendron Vernicifluum. 

As a relative of the poison ivy, the sap is a milky resin, obtained from trees 10 years or older.
This raw sap is then mixed with Tung oil, a nut oil derived from the Vernicia Fordii tree and left to cure until it oxidizes into a viscous black liquid ready for use.

Precise formulas for lacquer mixing are closely guarded secrets, usually handed down through generations of artisans.
Art styles vary dramatically across regions and time periods. But all are united in their ability for timber preservation and offering  a tactile experience.

This allows lacquer art to take on everything from furniture to jewellery boxes.
The art form, referred to as Japanning, reached Europe in the 1600s via Portuguese explorers. And for the next 300 years gradually became a ubiquitous piece of the affluent English home.

By the 1800s, Birmingham and the Black Country became a center of this exotic craft.
Starting from the 20th century, lacquered furniture makers of the West Midlands turned their attention to metalworking. 

Today Japanned metallurgy, inspired by this ancient Asian technique, lives on in vintage Singer sowing machines and Sunbeam bicycles.
Today at LACQ Studio we create unique furniture and art pieces using this endangered craft. 

See our process below.



bottom of page