Monday, April 14, 2008

Luscious Lacquer

Here's some really great work from a company called
Alexander Tjarko, based in New York and San Francisco.  The name comes from the two guys who operate it, Alexander and Tjarko.

Each of the pieces can have up to 30 layers of lacquer, and each layer can take up to five days to dry, so it's an extremely time-intensive process.  The execution of them is carried out by artisans and craftspeople in Southeast Asia, so they're supporting a generations-old economy there, which I think is quite noble.

Beautiful in their simplicity are these teak bowls and vases:

They also offer them in black and a dark chocolate brown, but for some reason I thought the vermillion and emerald were the most stunning, I think because the colors are more organic, contrast with the raw wood in a more striking way, and yet are still so very rich.

What really grabbed me at the show, though, were these manuscript boxes, "Rip in Time":

I really love how it's a pattern that hints at something so ancient and traditional, but they've updated it, abstracted it, and sort of modernized it.  It also makes the pieces a bit more appealing if your home isn't decorated in a Souteast Asian motif.

Many layers of the base color are applied.  The pattern is etched into this, and then the second color is applied.  The lacquer fills in the etches, and before it dries, it's wiped off the top surface, leaving behind the second color in the valleys.

Here's "Rajput":

I'd love to see them start working with really complex, computer-generated patterns, to take the modern reinterpretation of an ancient craft even further, but they're really beautiful.  Examining them in person, it's fairly obvious the craftsmanship is absolutely top-notch.

They keep plenty of items in stock, but most of the pieces include a note that custom sizes, colors, and so on are readily available.  Although because the work is so intensive, turn-around times on custom pieces can be up to five months.  Worth it, perhaps, for an heirloom object.

©2008, Ryan Witte

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