Eggshell lacquer is an intricate art form that is used for decorative pieces such as vases, bowls and ceramic boxes. The process of preparing eggshell lacquer can take from seven to 50 days because each layer of lacquer has to be dried in the sun and polished. Eggshell lacquer creates a different and attractive coating for ceramic pieces.
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Eggshell lacquer is actually made from chicken, goose and duck eggshells that are broken into tiny pieces. Duck shells that are already hatched are the most commonly used shells because of their thickness and white colour. The pieces of eggshell are arranged in different designs and sealed with lacquer.
Applying eggshell lacquer is a labour-intensive process, and most pieces require about 13 layers of lacquer. Clay is also used at times to fill the spaces between the eggshells. Because eggshell lacquer is made by hand, no two pieces are alike.
The eggshells are dyed to obtain different-coloured pieces; because duck shells are white, they are easier to dye. Mixing mineral pigments and chemical dyes achieves a smooth finish for the shells.
Once the lacquer hardens, it's polished with abrasives like charcoal and iron oxide to bring a high gloss to the surface. If you have a piece with eggshell lacquer, keep it out of the sun and away from extreme heat. Clean it with a damp cloth using a mild soap. A finished piece of eggshell lacquer is shiny enough for you to see your reflection in it.
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