Ott-chil is a type of South Korean lacquer technique that is done by adding the secretions of the Ott tree, released as a protective response to wounds. Collecting this from the ott-tree is an intricate and difficult process that can be done only by experts. The lacquer produces incredibly durable finishes in most materials. It offers an antibacterial effect and its colour is very elegant. This is why it has long been treated as the very best material for tableware in Korea.
Nowadays it is rarely used in Korea because of mass production and particular use. Today, we prefer a fast-paced and easy life. The pace of modern life seems to be constantly accelerating-especially in South Korea. We are living in this fast-moving world.
Now ott-chil craftsmanship is on the verge of dying out because many of the craftsmen who have traditionally made the ott-chil are retiring, with no successors to take their place. This project is a form of tribute to the ott-chil craftsmen who poured their heart and soul into their work. Designer Seung Bin Yang met ott-chil craftsmen in South Korea and learned their skills in order to apply it to his work. Normally ott-chil is used on wooden products for finishing and protecting the surface. Because of the high price and value, traditional ott-chil has been used only for luxury furniture or utensil for rituals.
In his project, Seung Bin Yang applied ott-chil to papers to make a new material for tableware which has the strong points of ott-chil as follows: waterproof, durable, sterilised and eco-friendly. He also felt an interest in exploring the gap between luxury objects and everyday objects, heavy strong material and light weak material. Seung Bin Yang tried to follow the traditional way of applying lacquer, but at the same time wanted to suggest a new object, a new material and a new shape based on a new design adapted to modern living.
First, the designer modelled the objects digitally. From the created 3D digital objects, this is then converted to 2D. It is finely cut using laser cutting and glued using the natural material: bone glue. After the form is made, it is painted using ott (natural lacquer). Due to ott’s unique nature, ott is dried only when the humidity is between 65 and 85%, and the temperature is maintained at about 22 and 25 degrees. The dried ott is sanded with sandpaper. The sanded lacquer is once again raised by the ott-chil layer, dried again, and sanded with finer sandpaper. Each layer is sanded with different grains of paper. This is repeated over 10-12 layers of ott to produce the final result.
Information submitted by the maker and edited by the Future Materials Bank.
Ott-chil (natural lacquer)
0029-1, 0029-2, 0029-3
Accessible to visitors of the Future Materials Lab