The Care Manual | Urushi Lacquerware

At times with beautiful dishware comes the feeling of not wanting to use them! We’ve experienced this firsthand over the years but with the help of the artisan’s who have given us pointers on how to care for their handmade works in a way that brings out the best quality of the materials, we’ve overcome this impediment. Nowadays, we can safely say that we’ve grown from admirers to proud users of all the handicrafts we bring home. With this new Journal series, we hope to instill a bit more confidence in anyone who is hesitating to break in their pieces. After all, the only way to ruin a piece, is to not use and enjoy them.

Our first care guide is on urushi lacquerware. Traditional urushi lacquerware is made from the sap drawn from the trunk of an urushi tree. There is none better then Ryuji Mitani – the king of crossing limits between art and objects for everyday use – to give us his urushi daily care tips. Luckily caring for urushi is much simpler than we imagined. Here are instructions adapted from Ryuji Mitani’s notes during our exhibition with him.

1. If non-oily foods were used in the piece, rinse the piece under lukewarm water.

2. If there are oily areas, instead of solely lukewarm water, use a mild dish detergent and soft sponge to gently clean the piece. Rinse away all soap residue. Do not use metallic scrubbing pads, as they will cause the urushi to scratch and eventually peel.

3. After rinsing, fully dry the piece with a soft cloth. Leave the piece out to dry on a dish rack overnight before storing.

4. Store the piece on a shelf or in a cabinet with good airflow.

Additional Notes:

Avoid soaking urushi pieces in water for prolonged periods.
– Leaving urushi wares in direct sunlight for an extended time may cause discoloration.
– Urushi tableware will become less glossy and more matte as time goes by, this is expected and will give the piece a rich texture.
– It is not recommended to place in microwave.
– Urushi wares are not dishwasher safe as this could cause dents in the wood.
– Drastic temperature changes may cause the wood to warp therefore we do not recommend placing in the refridgerator.

The ‘White Urushi Rimmed Bowl’ pictured in this guide can be found here.

Written by Stevenson Aung

Stevenson Aung

January 13, 2018

Let's keep in touch.

Subscribe to the Nalata Nalata newsletter to receive information on the latest happenings in our store.