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January 19, 2006

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Shellac is an animal product. The basic material comes from the Coccus lacca, a scale insect that feeds on certain trees in India and southern Asia. After feeding, the insect produces through its pores a gummy substance which hardens into a protective covering called lac. This lac is collected and then it is crushed, washed and dried. After further treatment, it is skillfully drawn into thin sheets of finished shellac. Many products such as phonograph records, sealing wax, fireworks, and electrical insulators and instruments have shellac in their composition. When mixed with alcohol, shellac forms ordinary varnish.

Soon after the scale insect is hatched, it leaves its birthplace and begins to wander about, looking for a likely place to settle down. It finds this place at last upon a stem or a leaf or the outside of a fruit. It inserts its sharp little beak in the tissue and then settles down for a lifetime of sucking at this particular spot.

It is soon covered by a substance that it secretes or gives forth from its body - a substance that in certain species looks like wax, in others like cotton, in still others like powder. The growing insect sheds one skin after another; these skins form a rounded little scale, held in place by the secreted substance.

Did you try this yet?

I would very much like to shellac some food that I have as well. Also, it's worth noting that I DEFINITELY saw whatever show Delta Burke was on when she talked about shellacking food. I'm amazed that either of us could remember that.

It was the Rosie O'Donnel show. I too remember...the potato chip necklace. But, recently I actually tried it. However I didn't try it on food, I tried it on a flower. It didn't make the flower hard like I expected. After tring it on the flower I don't think it would work for food...I think it would fall apart. Has anyone else been succesful?

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