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.