Lacquer Work from Guerrero, Mexico

Are you familiar with the incised lacquer work of Mexico? In almost any airport or tourist trap in Mexico you will find the lacquer trays that are multi-colored, incredibly common and (dare I say) ugly.

There are three regions in Mexico known for lacquerware but today I want to show you some exceptional pieces from Guerrero. These examples were handmade in Olinalá, Mexico. The box, tray, or decorative piece is first carved from wood, then sanded to be very smooth, then covered with a layer of laca. Laca is an organic concoction made of insects and/or vegetable oils. It’s called chia. For pieces that are multi-layered, the contrasting colors of laca are layered on the wood piece.  After the first layer has dried, which can take weeks, the second layer is applied and it too is allowed to dry. Then the design is etched or scratched out of the second layer (using a turkey quill) permitting the first layer’s color to show through. It take YEARS to become really good at this craft. For me the difference between an artistic piece and one made for the tourist trade is the color combination and the willingness to try something new.

If you look at these pieces you will see that they are amazingly well done. What do you think?



Lacquer Box from Mexico

Laca or lacquer box from Mexico