Urushi / Kintsugi course

“It is since 1979, after an apprenticeship with a master lacquerer in Kyoto, that I have been working with this noble material that is Urushi. One of the applications is kintsugi, an ancestral practice in Japan which consists of repairing wounds with the most precious thing, gold, and bringing back to life what has been broken. »

Martine Rey, lacquer artist

Introduction to traditional and modern working methods of urushi vegetable lacquer, used among other things in the repair of various objects and ceramic pieces with gold lacquer and other metals. The course will be given only in French.

Il est essentiel de lire toutes les informations ci-dessous avant de remplir le formulaire de participation au stage.

Urushi is a Japanese term used to designate vegetable lacquer used in the manufacture of traditional objects. This lacquer comes from the sap of a tree, Rhus verniciflua. Its cultural heritage as well as developments in its technique have given it its credentials. Today it holds an exceptional place in artistic crafts in Asia and is beginning to be used in the West. Naturally amber, urushi is exceptional in more than one way: waterproof, it has strong adhesion power, is distinguished by its exceptional hardening as well as its good heat tolerance, up to 400°C. Let us add to this that this lacquer has very good resistance to acids and solvents, and that its anti-germ qualities make it an ideal coating for parts intended for food contact.
In essence, an urushi project takes time. This is a process that takes place in several stages and under very specific conditions; the addition and alterations of material as well as the curing time are sequenced and repeated until the project is deemed complete. Time is an essential factor, both in terms of the intrinsic properties of the lacquer and the finish of the pieces themselves.

The training will begin with a quick history of urushi vegetable lacquer, as well as an introduction to its properties. This will be the time to discuss its general characteristics, its specificities of hardening by polymerization, its advantages, and the multiple forms it can take. Some objects will be shown as examples to inspire practice over the next five days.

During this internship, each person will work on a minimum of two parallel projects. Several lacquering methods will be presented and accessible.

The first object to work on will be provided: it will be a wooden bowl, to be lacquered using the wiped lacquer technique. This technique requires the application of numerous coats of lacquer and sanding of the hardened surfaces.

The second and subsequent objects could be a ceramic piece, a glass or any other piece whose injuries you want to repair. Clay-based coatings which consolidate objects and allow restoration will be presented.

The possibilities of using dry lacquer on textile or paper materials will also be explored, and will open up a wide field of creativity.

At the start of each day, the operations necessary for the advancement of the pieces will be discussed, both on a technical and artistic level. Each piece being unique, each step will require a particular amount of attention.

At the end of the training, and in order to understand the steps that complete the urushi process, the finishing lacquers will be studied on the bowl and other repaired parts. If the finish is done with a layer of gold, the technique is then called kintsugi; if it is done in money, the technique is called gintsugi. In certain cases, however, for aesthetic reasons, a repair with black or colored lacquer may be preferable.

The materials will be available during the training, but you must plan:

  • A few injured objects (around 3) which can be repaired during the week. Avoid, of course, objects that are in a thousand pieces.
  • Pieces of various materials and a few ordinary objects (pieces of wood, paper, leaves, plants, etc.) on which you can do lacquer tests and see the transformation of the lacquer depending on the supports.
  • 1 apron or work clothes that can get dirty.
  • A few old bathroom or beach towels, which will be used to maintain humidity during the polymerization process.
  • Soft cloths such as old sweaters, towels, old sheets, etc.
  • A box of gloves in your size. In fact, vegetable lacquer can cause allergic contact dermatitis, so you should use gloves to handle it until it has hardened. In order to reduce possible effects, Martine Rey recommends taking homeopathy one week before (then one week after): RHUS VERNIX 9 per day (3 x 3).

Martine Rey

After studying at the School of Applied Arts in Paris, Martine Rey went to Japan to learn different traditional techniques for using vegetable lacquer (Urushi) in Kyoto. Having become a master in the art of working surfaces, she creates elegant and discreet works, in balance between the Tradition she embodies and the originality of a sincere artistic approach. As an artist, she sublimates ordinary objects and reveals beauty, also where we least expect it. She is particularly interested in gaps, the effect of touch and also in repairs such as Kintsugi. She has been teaching these surface treatment techniques for over 40 years and it is fortunate to be able to discover her approach and her pieces for the first time in Montreal.

martinerey-laque.com Audio interview with Martine Rey on The Hug of Arts Film by Gaspard Mathevet on Martine Rey

Schedule and cost of the course

  • $745* for 5 days of training.
  • The course will take place from Monday October 9 to Friday October 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 5:00 p.m. A one-hour break is planned for lunch.

Refunds are only possible if you cancel at least 15 days before the start of the training, and you will be charged a $150 cancellation fee.

*The cost of gold powder or other precious metals is not included in the price of the training, but you can bring your own precious metal powder, or buy on site depending on your use.

To participate in the course

To participate in the internship, you must have a certain comfort in practicing manual work, as well as an interest in lacquerware and/or repairing parts.

As the number of places is limited, a brief written description of your motivation to participate in this activity is requested before registration. You can send us a file by email to ateliercone10@gmail.com.

Internship participation form

To participate in the course, a brief written description of your motivation to participate in this activity is required before registration.