Monday, November 08, 2010


I have a weakness for good Italian sodas as occasional treats and found some lovely squat little bottles of Aranciata - an orange mineral water in a small neighbourhood grocery.  The bottle shape appealed to me as well as the orange colour of the contents.  I seem to look at everything in grocery stores in terms of subject matter, so home came six little bottles with me.  Well I have to have some to drink as well as paint...

I drew out the piece on a full sized sheet of 200lb watercolour paper and have started adding some washes of colour to it.  So far, so good.    Early Wednesday morning I go out of town until Monday so I don't anticipate moving a lot further on this until next week.

And now a little background on this mineral water compliments of Wikipedia.
San Pellegrino mineral water has been produced for over 600 years. In 1395, the town borders of San Pellegrino were drawn, marking the start of its water industry. Leonardo da Vinci visited the town in 1509 to sample and examine the town's "miraculous" water, later writing a treatise on the subject. Analysis shows that the water is strikingly similar to the samples taken in 1782, the first year such analysis took place.

The earliest existing records show that 35,343 bottles were produced (5,562 of which were exported) in 1899. Nine years later, San Pellegrino was exported to the main European cities, as well as Cairo, Tangiers, Shanghai, Calcutta, Sydney, Brazil, Peru and the USA.

In 1932, the Aranciata orangeade variant was introduced. Containing San Pellegrino as its primary ingredient, the soda added concentrated orange juice.

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Wet mounting Ruby

Because most of the Japanese paper that I use for printing and painting gyotaku on is very thin before it is framed it needs to be attached to another similar weight sheet of paper.  This adds weight to it and also eliminates any wrinkles or crumpling that naturally occur as you mold the paper over the body of the fish.

I thought I'd show a little of the wet mount process here.  At first it is a terrifying prospect that had me believing that I was about to completely destroy what I'd spent time creating.  However, the print, paint and paper are a lot more resilient than you'd imagine and after doing several, I was able to relax and know what to expect.

This is the image of a lumpfish, Ruby, as I've nicknamed her.  Despite her somewhat unique appearance like a cross between a dinosaur and a puffer fish, I think she's rather cute!  The uneven surface of the fish's body makes her a challenge to print.  Lumpfish have dark colouring so I wanted to add colour and turn her into something beautiful.

I made several prints, added colour and let it dry then it was time to mount the print.  This print was done on Unryu paper which has fibres running through it ,giving movement to the surface and texture. 
I used mulberry paper for the backing paper.  I have a large roll of it that can be cut to size as needed.

The first step is to turn the print side down onto your working surface.  I use a large cellophane wrapped cheap canvas as my working surface for this.  The plastic makes it easier to remove the dried print safely and keeps it smooth as it dries.   Choose a similar weight paper, preferably the same type of paper and cut it about 2 inches larger all round than your original print.

The paste that I use for joining the two pieces is Yamato rice paste.  Rice or wheat paste are traditionally used in Japanese art.  The Yamato rice paste is premixed in a tube and I dilute it with water and apply it with a 4 inch brush.

With the printed side on the work surface I gently smoothed the diluted paste onto the wrong side of the print.  That's where the holding your breath bit comes in!  Japanese papers are very thin and when wet, become very easy to tear.  Manipulating the paper once its wet is a challenge.

Once the paper is primed with the paste, I then gently lower the backing paper starting from one end and smoothing it slowly across the original.  The paper becomes translucent and the print will be visible through the backing paper.   I use my hands and a fairly flat piece of kitchen paper to smooth out the air bubbles and wrinkles in the paper.   It will become smoother as it dries, the same way watercolour paper does when stretched.

I let the pasted papers dried for 10 minutes or so then slowly lift up the whole piece and place it back down on my surface to ensure that it is not sticking to the surface and is easy to remove when completely dry.

While wet, I will add further watercolour to the piece and let it dry overnight before removing and framing.  Ruby is still not complete in terms of colour and detail but will be within a couple of days.