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Question asked 2017-07-19 16:31:15 ...
Most recent comment 2017-07-20 19:15:29
I would like to protect ink and watercolor paintings on thin rice paper (unsized Xuan paper) by mounting them. They are quite big - around 100x70 cm each. I'm not sure how to proceed with this - should I dry or wet mount? Is it better to use thicker paper (bristol) as backing, or maybe a fabric like polyester? Would methylcellulose glue be sufficient?
Answers and Comments
Hi there - when you say that you want to protect the paintings, do you mean while being exhibited? In storage? The process you're talking about is called lining, and it makes sense that you would consider doing this - however, it is a process which is quite tricky and could be disastrous to attempt yourself. My suggestion is to either find a paper conservator who will line the paintings for you, or to mount the paintings on (acid free, high quality) rag board using Japanese paper hinges. Dry mount is difficult to remove, should you wish to do so in the future, and wet mounting yourself is likely to be problematic. Hinging with Japanese tissue and wheat starch paste would be gentler on the paintings and would allow for a window mat which would protect both sides. Another option would be to store the paintings between layers of acid free tissue, inside appropriately sized folders made from board or heavy paper stock. I can provide photos if any of this is confusing.
I have heard this problems raised, for many years. To begin, if the paper is thin and it is from China, it may be cotton. It could be Kozo/Gamp/etc. (Japan/Korea) but real rice paper is stiff like papyrus. Mounting thin Asian papers is an art form, since it entail using degraded starch (furunori), which may have been stored under water for many years, but more importantly, it employs a complex system of papers and fabrics that have been dried under tension and which form a counterbalanced system that can be easily disturbed by the addition of moisture. If a western equivalent were to be designed, it would also need counterbalancing, since paper (four ply board) can warp Dibond that it has been adhered to. One possibility might be: Dibond with lignin-free blotter paper bonded to both sides with acrylic medium. Methyl cellulose can be applied to the blotter paper, and allowed to dry. The Asian paper is humidified, with Hollytex and blotters and is smoothed, damp, onto the M C covered surface and allowed to dry. This would Have to be tested, since it is only an idea, but traditional asian methods can only be undertaken by someone schooled in them.
Alternately, the Asian paper can be sandwiched between an acrylic sheet and mat board, with a rigid backing board like Dibond, D-lite, or Pro-lite to keep the pressure consistent.
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