Retire Early Lifestyle
Retirement; like your parents, but way cooler

 
 

Retire Early Lifestyle Blog  Free Newsletter Subscribe/Contact Us

Advertise on RetireEarlyLifestyle.com info here

In 1991 Billy and Akaisha Kaderli retired at the age of 38. Now, into their 3rd decade of this financially independent lifestyle, they invite you to take advantage of their wisdom and experience.

Vietnamese Lacquerware Factory

Billy and Akaisha Kaderli

Share on Facebook

If in Asia, one must visit a lacquerware factory. These pieces of art are highly prized for their durability and beauty and take skilled craftsmen months to perfect. We decided to hire cyclo drivers to take us to the factory and it's a leisurely way to travel this city of over 8 million people.

Cyclo driver taking Akaisha through city traffic in Saigon, Vietnam to Lacquerware Factory

Cyclo driver taking Akaisha through city traffic in Saigon, Vietnam to Lacquerware Factory

Lacquerware dates back to at least 1600 years BC in China during the Shang Dynasty. Resin is taken from a tree with a fancy name, which is indigenous to China. More commonly, this tree is known as the Lacquer Tree. That works for me.

There is also a Lac insect which produces a scarlet resinous secretion which was used centuries ago as a wood sealer in ancient India and in neighboring areas.

Lacquerware factory and showroom in Saigon, Vietnam

Lacquerware factory and showroom in Saigon, Vietnam

The outstanding pieces you will see below use the resin from the Lacquerware Tree, not the secretion from the insect. If you are in Saigon, this factory will give you an understanding of the lacquer process which is very labor intensive.

The first step

The first step

Pieces of plywood are cut, coated with lacquer and sealed. A design is drawn on this board onto which heat-flattened pieces of shell are cut and delicately placed. At this point the mother of pearl is raised from the background of the board and is easily felt with the fingertips.

Lacquer is brushed coat by coat with day long drying times in between, to raise the background to the level of the shell. Each time a layer of lacquer is brushed and dried on the piece of artwork, it must be lightly sanded down to expose the shell work underneath. As you can imagine, this is very labor intensive.

 

Eggshell work

Eggshell work

Eggshell gathered from hatched duck and geese eggs are used for the fine work you see here. There is a hardness to the shell once the bird has hatched. Some shells are burned for further hardening and for the diversity of color the burning gives.

Laid into the background of tacky lacquer, the shell sticks. It is cracked into tinier pieces by a tool like the one you see above.

A closer look

A closer look

When the eggshell is broken, the lacquered background shows through giving a lacy appearance.

Notice the different shades of the duck shell.

Full eggshell piece

Full eggshell piece

This whole picture is made from eggshell. Because duck shells are white, they are easier to dye. Mineral pigments and chemical dyes are used to achieve a smooth finish.

Three different styles of lacquerware

Three different styles of lacquerware

This man is using sea shell inlay, eggshell inlay and painting lacquerware. These three different styles are rolled into one complex piece.

Supplies

Supplies

Here you see the inky black color of the lacquer before it is applied and some paints used in the artwork.

A finished piece

A finished piece

The ladies are made of mother of pearl. Details are etched into the shell and the lacquer, when applied, leaves a trace of it behind, giving depth and definition. The background is jet black lacquer, highly polished, with more detail painted on the surface and then sealed.

Vietnamese woman on a bicycle

Vietnamese woman on a bicycle

The woman's body and bicycle are all made out of different colors of eggshell, all very finely done. The dark background is very highly polished and acts like a mirror.

Fine detail of painted lacquerware

Fine detail of painted lacquerware

These pieces can take months to make with the many coatings and dryings in between. The lacquer is built up layer by layer and then polished to complete the piece.

Painted vase

Painted vase

Objects such as vases, bureaus, paintings, plates, trays, bowls and room dividers are all made with the same care to detail and this labor intensive procedure. These are art works to be treasured for generations.

Bowls, plates and some pictures in the background

Bowls, plates and some pictures in the background

Vietnamese lacquerware differs in that they utilize bright colors and mix all three types (eggshell, sea shell and painting) in their fine art pieces. Many other countries such as Thailand and Myanmar only have traditional style with gold inlay on black, or perhaps gold inlay on red or brown.

These bowls and plates are stunning pieces of art that you can use at home in your dining room.

Treasure boxes!

Treasure boxes!

A mix of styles make these boxes an elegant treasure. Notice the silver leaf which is colored gold for the background of several of the boxes.

A variety of objects in this display

A variety of objects in this display

Our English speaking guide holds up a more traditional red lacquer and gold tray. You will see the gold and painted bureau to the right and many styles of vases and pictures. There is something for everyone.

Containers shaped as eggs

Containers shaped as eggs

The insides of these eggs are the solid black lacquer and the outsides are stunningly painted with some eggshell work.

Silver leaf background and painted tree

Silver leaf background and painted tree

This picture has a silver leaf background and scarlet colored flowers. There are modern topics and more traditional styles available.

A village scene

A village scene

Texture and depth is created by using eggshell.

 

Modern art

Modern art

Don't much like the traditional style? Try these modern art pieces.

Eggshell; workers in the rice fields

Eggshell; workers in the rice fields

Notice the ripples of the water created by use of the colored eggshell for that effect. Very finely done.

Two ladies walking through the country

Two ladies walking through the country

One woman wears the Vietnamese cone hat called non la and the other woman wears the traditional Vietnamese au dai or in some parts of Vietnam called au yai with her non la carried over her arm. This picture is similar to one shown earlier, but various backgrounds give them a different feel.

An underwater world

An underwater world

With sea shell and painting, this striking underwater world comes to life.

A similar rice field scene

A similar rice field scene

This eggshell rice paddy scene probably took 6 months to make. Notice the detail and depth all done with eggshell. This setting is in 4 panels. You can separate the panels into single pictures or with 2 or more to make a fuller vista.

Another typical Vietnamese daily life scene

Another typical Vietnamese daily life scene

A portion of daily river life portrayed in painted lacquerware. The boats with the little rooftops are houseboats. Whole families can live on a boat this size and you will see them on the rivers of Vietnam.

Now that you have seen the process of lacquerware, you might want to take a tour for yourself.

If you get to Saigon, Vietnam, take this free tour at the following factory:

Phuongnam Lacquerware, 219 Nguyen Trai St., District 1, HCM City, Vietnam. Open daily. Tele: 84-8 3837. 0434 and 1251. 3837. 4764, Email: phuongnamiac@gmail.com and phuongnamlac@hcm.fpt.vn Website: www.phuongnam.com

For more stories and photos of Vietnam, click here

Free Newsletter, Subscribe here

About the Authors
 
Billy and Akaisha Kaderli are recognized retirement experts and internationally published authors on topics of finance, medical tourism and world travel. With the wealth of information they share on their award winning website RetireEarlyLifestyle.com, they have been helping people achieve their own retirement dreams since 1991. They wrote the popular books, The Adventurer’s Guide to Early Retirement and Your Retirement Dream IS Possible available on their website bookstore or on Amazon.com.

Retire Early Lifestyle appeals to a different kind of person – the person who prizes their independence, values their time, and who doesn’t want to mindlessly follow the crowd.

HOME   Book Store

 

Retire Early Lifestyle Blog      About Billy & Akaisha Kaderli      Press     Contact     20 Questions     Preferred Links     Retirement     Country Info    
Retiree Interviews
      Commentary     REL Videos

 

 

 

 

 
Subscribe Newsletter