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Patzcuaro gold outlined lacquerware is the name given to the lacquered objects decorated with flowers, birds and butterflies outlined with 23.5 k gold. There are pieces in which drawings are outlined with gold and next filled with colored oil paintings and in others the drawings are only gold outlined.
The designs used in the decoration of trays, plates, boxes and gourds as well as the color combinations have an oriental influence because during the Spanish colony Mexico was part of the commercial route between Philippines and Spain. Many Chinese crafts such as porcelain and lacquerware remained in the area and influenced the local craftsmen.
After the Independence war lacquerware production dwindled in Patzcuaro and the traditional lacquer techniques were almost lost.
Nowadays some artisans use industrial lacquers to varnish the pieces they gold outline or buy lacquered objects in their neighbor town Uruapan.
In the 1980's self thought artisan Martin Andrade Rodriguez (1954-2009) began a national effort to save the traditional lacquer techniques in Patzcuaro and Mexico. He gave many workshops to teach others what was so difficult for him to learn and traveled around the world showing his work and promoting Mexican Lacquerware. In 1988 he won the National Award to Folk Art given by FONART. He left 9 children that have followed his footsteps in gold outlined lacquerware.
Next, it is covered with several coats of powdered soils rich in dolostone. Before a new coat of soils is applied the piece is polished with a stone and let to dry. This process can take days or weeks depending on the size of the lacquered piece.
If the piece will have colored paintings on it the next step is to decorate it with oil paintings applied with a fine brush. When the oil colors have dried a mordente or glue prepared with copper oxide, linseed oil and garlic is applied to the outlines of the drawing.
The mordente will fixate the gold to the lacquer and add shine to it. The 23.5 k gold leafs are then carefully applied over the mordente. The gold leftovers are removed from the piece with cotton swabs.
Like many others crafts in Michoacan, the Patzcuaro gold outlined lacquerware has a denomination of origin to protect the authenticity of the artisans work.