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Modern Art of Snuff Bottle

What is "Technique of Photo Projected" in fake inside painting?

Updated: Aug 3, 2021


The inside painted snuff bottle has been famous since the 20th century. The awareness in public has been increasing over time as well. Particularly in China, many collectors and connoisseurs favor this miniature work and would like to place a high price on it. Therefore, some vendors saw the market niches and decided to join the field of inside painting to make a fortune. However, the traditional painting process of the snuff bottle is time-consuming. Averagely, it requires half a month to one month to complete an artwork. It even takes a half year to finish for the more complex themes, not to mention the quality is varied. If following the traditional painting method, it will be challenging for vendors to meet their needs. Therefore, some crafters invent this method to mass-produce the snuff bottle. Some of the products are sold as a souvenir at the tourist store. Some of which are sold as "artwork. " From our perspective, the invention of this tech doesn't necessarily mean "bad." However, instead of dishonesty, the makers should say it isn't entirely hand-painted upfront while dealing with buyers. They can't claim it is an artwork and entirely hand-painted. Instead, if they said upfront that the bottle is for commercial purposes, that will be no problem at all. This method produces many "commercial inside painted crafts" that aren't supposed to be mixed with what we call artwork. In the following, we outline the process of this photo projected technique. There are 3 tips to identify the fake inside painted snuff bottles.


Fake inside painted Snuff Bottle, example 1
Fake inside painted Snuff Bottle, resource from Internet

The making procedures of fake inside painting


Required Material: A mixed substances made of potassium dichromate, gelatin, coloring agent (commonly inks )


  1. Zooming in on the picture and making a black-and-white or color negative.

  2. Brush the mixed substances evenly in the inner surface of the snuff bottle.

  3. Fix black-and-white negative pictures or sketch above the SB, and then use the strong light to shine the negative film. After a while, the irradiated part of the Snuff bottle will be saturated by the mixed substances, which solidify the pigment on the inner wall.

  4. Rinse out the left substance with clean water. Then, the remaining part of the SB will be a black-and-white sketch, which is the framework and outline of the pictures.

  5. The painters repeatedly draw and paint until completing.


The method can be applied to the following painting styles: the human figure, human portrait, partial landscape painting, and calligraphy.


Fake Inside Painted Snuff Bottle, example 2
Fake Inside Painted Snuff Bottle, resource from Internet

In conclusion


In general, the painters who are involved in the process are more than one. The time required for completing an item is less than a few days. Sometimes, some painters use this method as a foundation to create a draft and then pay more attention to paint the details, making adjustments carefully to pass off fake inside painted snuff bottles as artwork. This way should not be encouraged, and the collectors should be more aware of this situation. In addition, the snuff bottle collectors should acknowledge that the significantly cheaper inside painted snuff bottle is likely to be a "fake inside painting." It is due to the cost and the time from entirely hand-painted by painters. The painters are not willing to spend too much time on work worth several US dollars. From our perspective, most very cheap inside painted snuff bottles are fake inside paintings. After all, the quality is equal to its price. Nothing for nothing and very little for a half penny

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