French polish has advanced much in recent years and modern polishes used
by professionals can now give a very hard & heat resistant finish when appropriately applied. They’re in some cases, every bit as good as modern lacquers. But also leave that elegant, lustrous and beautiful deep shine that only french polish can achieve.
French polish became prominent in the late 1800's of the Victorian era. Also known as Shellac Polish, it was found in the forest regions of India and Thailand. It is a secretion of resin from the Lac insect, Coccus Lacca. The female Lac insect sticks its teeth into the branches and bark of trees, which releases a secretion of resin from the tree to cover its whole body and secure itself in place on the tree. When the secretion is harvested or removed it often contains the bug itself and is known as Seedlac.
When removed, Seedlac is very brittle & flaky and normally comes in two different colours, Orange Bysaki & Blonde Kushmii. During production, the Orange Shellac is bleached with Sodium Hypochlorite solution to form white Shellac Polish.
Seedlac or Shellac as more commonly known was once used in many other ways other than just in french polish. This includes the outer film-like layer on common pills, candles, jewellery, dental technology, inkwells, old gramophone records, cycle handlebar tape & even Soviet AK47 Rifles. And more notably on fruit to replace the natural wax which is removed after the cleaning process. Interestingly, Shellac was also given an E number, E904 whilst used on fruit, but it was not classed as vegetarian as it may contain some crushed insects, causing it to have been referred to in the past as Beetle Juice!
Shellac sealer used by french polishers is used as a first coat barrier or primer coat on the wood to prevent the natural bleeding of resin or pigments into the french polishing process.
In the past two years because of the evident poor and inconsistent weather in the regions of India and Thailand, there has not been a successful harvest of the seedlac. Unfortunately, because of this the finished french polish product has risen considerably in price. CC French Polishing are expert french polishers in East Anglia and continue to use quality Shellac materials without passing any extra costs on to their customers.