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Lacquer

Lacquer, a varnish of two kinds. (1) That applied to brass and other metals to preserve them from corrosion and tarnish consists of shell-lac or seed-lac dissolved in alcohol, with the addition of certain gum-resins and some colouring matter, such as gamboge. The metal surface is usually coated twice; the first coat may be applied when it is either hot or cold, but it is invariably heated before receiving the second. (2) The lacquer used for decorative woodware is derived from the juice of the Rhus vernicifera, or "lacquer-tree," which is prepared in various ways, according to the kind of lacquerware desired - e.g. for gold lacquerware it is mixed with about 30 per cent. of powdered gold. The processes followed in applying the successive coats of lacquer are extremely elaborate and slow. Frequently a design in relief in one kind of lacquer is placed upon a ground consisting of another kind. It is also common to carve the surface or to inlay it with plaques of metal, ivory, or mother-of-pearl. The art of lacquering has been carried to the highest degree of perfection in Japan, where it has been practised for at least a thousand years.

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