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Archive for the ‘Lacquering’ Category

Decorative Finishing: The Lacquer Table

My childhood home had been an antique shop previously, in the 1950s and early 1960s.

 

Luxurious oriental wallpaper – black silk textured panels – still covered the walls of the largest room. An elegantly dressed Geisha knelt in the center of one of the panels, bordered in etched goldleafing.

 

All of the wallpaper was faded and worn from age. Each panel bore the signs of water damage.

 

On the longest wall was depicted a Teahouse scene. A dainty china tea service set on the low, glass-smooth black lacquer table. For seating, large silk-covered pillows were arranged on the floor. Rice paper sliding door panels could be seen in the background.

 

I did my homework, seated in a red-enameled, round-backed cane chair. Pulled up to a restored circa 1940s oblong, drop leaf table. My wandering eyes floated toward that Teahouse scene. Specifically, the lacquered table.

 

I promised myself that I’d decorate my first dining room in the oriental style.

 

In my early 20s, the inspiration came to design and build a small Oriental table, out of ebony wood.

To get the perfect black, lustrous finish, I applied nine coats of Glidden’s high-gloss enamel. Each coat was allowed to set and “cure,” at least four hours. Then, I did a light and thorough damp feather sanding with No. 1000 sandpaper. Followed by a complete surface “wipe,” using a barely damp, soft muslin cloth.

 

In 2010, the need for a laptop computer table motivated me to build a “lap table” sized version of that lacquer table. I did not apply as many coats of the black, high-gloss finish enamel, because of the lack of workshop space. And, the curing/drying time between coats was reduced – according to outdoor environmental conditions.

 

The mystique remained for the sleek, elegant oriental décor. Yet, a deeper appreciation for the natural in furniture finishing, refinishing, and restoration work had taken over.

 

In early 2013, a couple from Asia stayed at the hotel for over ten days. They were purchasing a second home in Celebration. They showed me two photos of a badly abused, 52-inch square table that came with the house.

 

The couple wanted to shorten the oak table, to 20-inches in height. Then, they wanted to refinish the table. To a mirror-smooth black lacquer. They wanted to do the entire project themselves. With a little guidance from me.

 

The husband and wife team turned out to be very talented. And handy with tools – painting, decorative finishing, and power.

 

One day after work, we met at their new house. A sprawling two-story, with many porches and balconies.

Using a level and steel ruler, we measured and marked the table legs for shortening. By my next visit, the couple had sawed down the legs. Also, they’d carefully cleaned and sanded every inch of the table.

 

At their request, we actually video-cammed the basic procedure:

 

  1. Repairing the table’s cracks, gouges, splinters, etc.
  2. Filling and smoothing out all surface imperfections.
  3. Dry and moist sanding the surfaces multiple times.
  4. Applying a very thin white sealer/primer.
  5. Applying five of the nine finish coats – with very fine, and gentle, sanding between each.

 

By the time the couple applied the fifth finish coat themselves, my job was completed. They had mastered the finishing process, at a high, non-professional level.

 

I never saw the finished Lacquer table. Until June of 2015. The couple and I spotted each other at a Home Depot. They invited me to their home the following week.

 

Upon my arrival, they urged me to take a very close look at their work.

 

“What a beautiful job!” I excitedly told them. And it was!

 

At their beautiful table, they served tea and homemade shortbread wafers, on a set of hand-painted china.

 

By the way, the Lacquer table sets in the middle of their traditional, oriental dining room. In their traditional, oriental decorated home.

 

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Some of the best decorative finishing is done by the most surprising craftspersons.

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Thank you, Tau Hong and Sum Li.

And, thank you everyone for visiting “Painting with Bob.”

Copyright 2017. Robert D. Hajtovik. All rights reserved.

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