08 May 2014

Mounting Art On Boards Part 2

This is the second in a three-post series about pasting works on paper to wooden boards for presentation. (Part 1 here, and Part 3 here.) Here are a few caveats to note before you try this:
- I'm pasting woodblock prints created using the Japanese method, called moku hanga or ukiyo-e.

- I use Guerra pigment dispersions rather than paint or ink. These are pure pigments suspended in water.
- If you use any other kind of ink, sumi ink, ink jet, etc., always test before you try this. There are no guarantees that this method will work for your type of ink.

Taking up from where I left off in the last post, the lined boards were now dry and it was time to take the plunge and smear glue all over the back of one of my prints. I read via Laura Boswell that the starch paste should be a little thicker for this purpose, so instead of the consistency of whole milk I went for something more like the consistency of cream.

I had dampened the prints the night before in a damp pack, just the way I would dampen them to print. I reached into the pack, turned print #1 over onto my work table, held my breath, and started putting on the paste. I watched for bleeding or other types of problems, but everything looked good so I kept going.

I picked up the paste-filled print, turned it over, and positioned it onto the lined board, just by eye. As I suspected might happen, the print had grown in size from the moisture and was now about 1/4 inch wider than the board and maybe 1/8 inch bigger in height. Nothing to be done about that, but I knew it would be tricky down the road to trim the print without cutting into the lining paper. As I had done when lining the board, I used a soft-ish brush to smooth out any air bubbles or creases and adhere the print to the lined board.

It was looking good, and now I was feeling confident! I grabbed print #2 and started brushing on some paste. Uh-oh… 

On one edge where I had put a very heavy application of pigment during the printing, the pigment began to bleed. I tried to lighten up on my paste, but it was too late. I decided to keep going, knowing that the color might lighten as it dried. I applied print #2 to a board as I had done with the other one and brushed out the bubbles.

At this point I'd like to make an observation about the strength of the bond between the print and the washi I had previously applied to the board. I expected that bond to be very strong, like it would be with glue. But rice paste is not glue. Apparently, the bond occurs in the drying. While the paste was wet, the print could easily be lifted and this concerned me. I had a very difficult time being patient and leaving it alone while it dried — I kept testing a corner, to the point where I had to re-apply some paste in that spot. So my first warning is this: LEAVE IT ALONE AND LET IT DRY! Patience not being one of my virtues, I finally had to leave the room and find something else to do for a couple of hours.

Here's a closeup of the corners of both prints. You can see that the paper is larger than the board underneath and will need to be trimmed.

That's where things stand this evening. The drying is going well and the bond now appears to be quite strong. Tomorrow morning I'll trim these and try doing a few more. Hannah Skoonberg suggested in a comment on my last post that it might be helpful to moisten the paper on the boards with a spray bottle before gluing, so that the prints and the paper on the boards can dry together. I didn't do that this time, but will try it tomorrow. I'll report again.

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