Alexander Lamont Lacquer

LACQUER

In simplest terms, lacquer is a very hard, durable finish that is resistant to damage by water, acid, alkali or abrasion. Lacquer comes from the sap of the tree species Rhus Veniciflua, commonly known as the Varnish Tree. Once refined it can be applied to many surfaces, each layer being laboriously wet-sanded to create increasing depth and lustre.
Thailand has an ideal climate for natural lacquer, as humidity is required for the drying process. However today, there is almost no use of natural lacquer in Thailand; most ‘lacquers’ sold are made from synthetic products.
Our lacquer workshop uses only fine natural lacquer and employs the traditional methods used by Jean Dunand and Sugiwara – who established the lacquer workshop of Eileen Gray in the 1920’s, as well as developing new and innovative ways to apply lacquer to our other workshop materials such as gold leaf and stingray. The resulting textures and surfaces exude a meeting point of European and Japanese craftsmanship.

SHAGREEN or GALUCHAT

Referred to as “shagreen” in English and “galuchat” in French, stingray skins were originally used by the Japanese for armour and on weaponry. Later, Europeans used the strong lustrous skin for precious boxes. Using raw skins is a mysterious process that took our workshop almost ten years to perfect. Through careful thinning, cleaning, dyeing, cutting, adhering and finishing we achieve a surface that has been described as ‘a million beads of ivory’.
We use only the traditional raw stingray skins in our work because the durability is greater, the finish more tactile and the myriad natural tones far more beautiful than those of pre-dyed chromium-tanned skins, which are more commonly found in use today. While honouring the traditional technique, we have found our own ways to finish and apply shagreen giving a new character to this rare material.

Alexander Lamont Shagreen
Alexander Lamont Lost Wax Bronze

LOST WAX BRONZE

Bronze is a strong and flexible sculptural material that has been applied to decorative arts in Europe and Asia for millenia. Lost-wax casting requires a model of the piece to be made in wax which is then covered with clay, dried and heated. The wax is poured out (is lost), leaving a cavity the same as the original wax. Molten bronze is poured into the cavity, the clay is broken and a bronze model remains. Intricate or simple forms can be achieved using this method that requires good carving skills.
At our main workshop in Bangkok, we make the wax models for our designs and pass these to a bronze foundry to complete the process to make the bronze object. This is then finished in our own bronze patination workshop and finally gilded in our gold leaf workshop. Either brass or bronze is used depending on the strength, weight and finish that we want. The patina (surface finish) can be altered in hundreds of ways to achieve the rich elegant lustre and tone that is characteristic of ALEXANDER LAMONT pieces.

ROCK CRYSTAL

Rock Crystal is the name given to all clear colorless quartz. It is widely used as a popular ornamental stone and a gemstone. The most common use for rock crystal is in ornamental carvings such as the fortune-teller’s crystal ball. Rock crystal can have the colorless clarity of pure water however the most common flaws or internal fractures result in veils and colorful refractions that can lend a very special beauty to objects made from rock crystal.
Naturally translucent, Alexander Lamont uses this stone resembling ‘golden ice’ to create jewel-like accessories and accents. We use it both in its cut and polished form and in uncut raw clusters. It is often described as the most beautiful light source. Try dining by the light of one of our table votives.

Alexander Lamont Rock Crystal
Alexander Lamont Straw Maquetry

STRAW MARQUETRY

Straw marquetry is the craft of forming a decorative panel of straw veneer and applying it to a structure. There are different forms of marquetry, including inlay, onlay and mosaic. To make straw marquetry, the stem of straw must be split, flattened, softened and sometimes scraped into a flat ribbon. It is then glued edge to edge to a paper or plywood backing until they form an even surface, and shapes are cut from the sheet.
Since the seventeenth century the encounter between straw, a simple material, and marquetry, a very demanding technique, has produced humble items as well as works of art. Having fallen into oblivion in the late nineteenth century, straw marquetry was re-introduced into France in about 1925, thanks mainly to Andre Groult and Jean-Michel Frank.
At ALEXANDER LAMONT we use straw marquetry in furniture, accessories and mirror frames. Straw has a shiny surface that catches and reflects the light beautifully. It is usually used in its natural golden colour but we have experimented to produce designs that use straw marquetry dyed in darker tones and set in a very contemporary pattern, or covered with oxidized silver to give a smoky metallic look. In such a way straw marquetry has the potential to be a very modern and versatile material.

PARCHMENT

Parchment is a thin material made from calfskin, sheepskin or goatskin. Historically its most common use was for the pages of books or manuscript. Vellum is the name usually used for a finer version of parchment, made from sheepskin or calfskin. Parchment or vellum is unlike leather in that it is not tanned, but stretched, scraped and dried under tension, which yields a stiff, translucent skin that requires great skill to dye and successfully apply to a wood substrate.
With a surface like sheets of soft ivory, parchment became popular as a decorative finish began during the 1920’s when modernism demanded neutral materials that maintained a sense of luxe. Avant-garde French designers such as Jean-Michel Frank, Jean Prouvé, and André Arbus rebelled against the bourgeoisie’s taste for old tapestries and dark wood, and designed clean-lined furniture upholstered in white kidskin and tables crafted of eggshell lacquer and parchment.
Alexander Lamont uses parchment to create panels of subtly varying tones on furniture, lighting and objects. We have also developed printing methods that create layers of pattern over the surfaces.

Alexander Lamont Parchement
Alexander Lamont Peking Glass

PEKING GLASS

Imperial workshops mastered 'Peking Glass' in Peking during the Qing Dynasty. A kiln is filled with raw glass mixed with pigment. The melted glass is blown into the shape desired and then submerged repeatedly in molten glass of contrasting colours layer by layer, developing the beautiful colour rings. The glass must be cooled over a three-day period. The final shaping and polishing is done by hand in the old jade-cutting process of methodical grinding.
We work with kilns in Peking to create simple form bowls and vases designs using this splendid Qing Dynasty material and technique.

GESSO

Traditional gesso is made by combining gypsum powder and natural hide glue. The resulting material is applied hot in multiple layers and sanded between each layer to achieve a perfectly smooth material layer that supports various hand-applied finishes including water-gilding, natural lacquer and cracked was polished surfaces.
At our workshop we use gesso to achieve certain wax polished surfaces upon which lacquer or pigment or wax is then applied. Through various techniques we achieve innovative effects such as ‘craquelure’ that resonate of antique crackled tusk or smoldering embers.

Alexander Lamont Gesso
Alexander Lamont Gilted Sand

GILDED SAND

At Alexander Lamont we have perfected the 18th century technique of transforming sand into a solid and elegant textured surface. It was first used to create a matte counter-balance to the high shine of burnished gold leaf in the heavily carved picture frames hung in the Catholic churches and cathedrals of Europe.