Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Russian Lacquer Boxes: Step Two

To follow this project from the beginning, go here.

I've learned a lot through out this project. One thing I've learned is that lacquer, although dry enough for another layer in half an hour, really needs hours of drying to make the smell go away. I can't explain for how long this lacquer smells stays in the house. I think next time I plan this project, I'm going to do the entire thing in an outdoor setting for various reasons.

That being said, on to step two.

The acrylic worked so much better. In fact, after applied, the biggest issue is that it can create a lot of brush marks in the work so it takes quite a bit of lacquer to be able to even everything out. This is where sanding comes in. Getting everything nice and even and then placing another layer of lacquer on so everything can have that nice smooth finish works fabulously.

So, when I got enough layer on over the the base paints, it was time to start considering what to do for a design. I decided to use the boxes I already had for inspiration and they were done in a strawberry pattern.

What luck! Strawberries were  very popular in Italy, particularly Venice and Novgorod, where Katrusha is from, was known as The Venice of Russia! For some reason the entire idea really worked for me.

The first thing I had to do was get the basic red and yellow colors down. It looked so blobby to me, just these massive patterns of red and yellow that didn't quite look like anything exciting at all.

Both the red and yellow were acrylic. At first I was going to put a bunch of layers of lacquer between the first part of the design and the highlights which would be in gold and black as it is said to be done that way, but I also didn't do the gold leaf inlay or anything so I decided to take the easy way out and put the accents on later.

When I was trying to decide what kind of paint to use, after realizing the tempura that I had purchased for the project would quite work and the acrylic was just a little too thick to be able to get the detail I want, I decided to search the ol' ink drawer and found myself some nice India ink and some gold ink I've used before as well. I figured with the two of those I should be able to get some good detail.

After using the paint, I actually loved seeing how far a small paintbrush of ink would go. Much further than the paint, thankfully. I worked with the gold first and was incredibly pleased with how just the gold made everything pop. It was exactly what I was looking for.

Then I used the black, which was just really a little bit of touching up here and there on the strawberry leaves, but it worked. Really well. After a few dots of red paint, I was pleased with how things looked.

Then it was time to start working on the bottom sides. I used some painters tape to tape off a portion so that I could make a really nice ribbon of red which I then planned to put a criss-cross pattern on using the black and gold inks. I had read how this was a typical way of doing side work detail as it emanated some styles of cloth design. The only problem was, these being round boxes, I was free handing the lines. Over all, though, I was incredibly pleased (again) and placed a few dots in the diamonds that showed up. That was when I put the boxes together and...

They looked good, but something was missing. The lids kind of blended into the bottoms too naturally due to how I made the red ribbon. So I decided to do a little bit of scroll work in gold along the edges of the lids.

That worked perfectly.

I was just starting to lacquer, feeling like I was done, when I decided... they say you can tell you have a good box instead of just a mass produced one because it is signed on the bottom. That tells you a master worked on it. Not that I'm a master, but I did like the idea of signing my boxes on the bottom. And that made me start thinking that I would love to put a Russian proverb inside the box. Russian proverbs are really big and I knew if I searched hard enough, I could find one that was encouraging. So I started searching for proverbs. These were the runner ups:

Лиха́ беда́ нача́ло.
Beginning is the big trouble.

Охо́та пу́ще нево́ли.
Desire is worse then compulsion.

Пе́рвый блин (всегда́) ко́мом.
The first pancake is (always) a blob.

Раз на раз не прихо́дится.
Each time it is different.

And the winner was: Век живи́ — век учи́сь.

Live for a century — learn for a century.

Then I started lacquering again and I learned some... very unfortunate news.

 The black ink that I used would smudge if I went over it more than once with a brush. This isn't too big of a problem because it will be easy enough to touch up the issue after the first round of lacquer dries, but it is good to know for the next time I try and do this.

So, at this point, the project is more or less done. I will add a picture of the final product as well as who ends up winning each of them (and the congratulations that I know they will deserve) once this weekend is over. And then I will start working on compiling the documentation for them.


The winners were:

Third Place: JP
Second Place: Pashalika Kanabala
First Place: Ose Silverhair

The third small one was given as a gift on the day of her coronation to Branwyn, Khatun of Aethelmearc in the fall of 2012 (and good friend of mine since High School).