Japan enamel

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A hard, shiny imitation Oriental lacquer made made by mixing pigments into an oil and gum binder usually with a reducing agent. Japan enamel was baked to evaporate the solvent and fuse the binder into a uniform, durable surface. Each layer was hand rubbed prior to the addition of another coat. Pigment colors of white, blue, and black were used on furniture in the 17th and 18th centuries. By the 19th century numerous coating formulations were used to imitate lacquer and the paints were popularly applied to tinware, ironware, and papier mache.

See also japan black, and Japanese lacquer.

Synonyms and Related Terms

japaning; japanning; japan; japan black; japan varnish; white japan; blue japan; black japan

Additional Information

M.Bellardie, "Japanning in Seventeenth- and Eighteenth-Century Europe" in Painted Wood: History and Conservation, Getty Conservation Institute, Los Angeles, 1998.

Sources Checked for Data in Record

  • G.S.Brady, Materials Handbook, McGraw-Hill Book Co., New York, 1971
  • Ralph Mayer, A Dictionary of Art Terms and Techniques, Harper and Row Publishers, New York, 1969 (also 1945 printing)
  • ASTM, "Standard Terminology Relating to Paint, Varnish, Lacquer and Related Products", Annual Book of ASTM Standards, Section 6, Paints, Related Coatings and Aromatics, ASTM, D16, 7-Jan, Jul-96