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Painting Reconstruction Historical Materials/Techniques

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ShellacShellac<p>Sticklac – This resinous material is excreted by the Laccifera lacca, an insect that is native to both India and Thailand and is collected from the twigs of trees.  The resin serves as a protective coating for the eggs which is often why bits of “stick” and bark can be found embedded in the resin.  The sticklac can then be chemically refined or washed by hand to produce a various grades that range in color and quality.  Shellac is used as a varnish/coating for wooden objects, instruments, and historic interiors and flooring.  It is also a major component in India ink and continues to be used to mold and shape felt hats.  In the past shellac has also been used as a picture varnish (“French” varnish or polish), as an all-purpose adhesive, and as the main substrate for phonographs.</p><p>Seedlac – Once sticklac has been harvested, it can be repeatedly washed and strained of its impurities and is formed into seed shaped pellets.  This type of shellac still contains a small amount of impurities that can only be removed with further chemical refinement.</p><p>Bleached Shellac – By removing the wax and rosin content of shellac, almost all of the color is removed (“blonde” shellac).  Generally bleached shellac involves the highest degree of chemical refinement and is often considered to be of the highest quality. </p><p>De-waxed Shellac – Removing the wax content from seedlac produces flakes that are much more water-resistant and have a greater degree of transparency. </p><p>Orange/Lemon/Garnet Shellac – Since shellac begins as a natural product it can come in a wide range of colors, however, further chemical refinement can also produce intermediate colors.</p><p>Shellac-Soap – Shellac soap is created by combining borax dissolved in hot water (or some type of alkali) with flake or crushed shellac.  The borax saponifies the shellac and forms a material that is miscible with both oil and aqueous media.  This is the primary medium in waterproof India ink.  ​</p>A summary of various shellacs used in art materials and techniques including Sticklac, Seedlac, Bleached Shellac, De-waxed Shellac, Orange/Lemon/Garnet Shellac, and Shellac Soap

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