Japan black

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1) An imitation black lacquer made with asphalt, linseed oil, and natural resins. The hard black varnish was popular in the 19th century for artificial jappaning of furniture and objects made from papier mache, tin, and iron. Heat was sometimes applied to the varnish to speed drying time. Several formulations for the varnish existed with some using carbon black pigments instead of asphalt.

2) More recently, a black paint called japan black was used by sculptors as a protective coating for metal rebar in castings. It was also used as a resist for acid etching.

Other imitation black lacquers include japan enamel.

Synonyms and Related Terms

black japan, Brunswick black; Japan varnish; japaning; tar varnish; Jews' pitch; Judean pitch; Jewish pitch

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • Richard S. Lewis, Hawley's Condensed Chemical Dictionary, Van Nostrand Reinhold, New York, 10th ed., 1993
  • Dictionary of Building Preservation, Ward Bucher, ed., John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York City, 1996