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.


Leslie Hawes said...

Ruby is wonderful (and cute!)
What a great series of shots to show process.

Lori-Lee Thomas... said...


I'm in love.

Margaret Bednar said...

That is a lot of work but the outcome is wonderful. I also wanted to let you know I think you have done a very nice job with your "sales" end. The bar at the top and ease of purchasing is well done. I also love the idea of a seasonal category. I will check back each season! (and many other times as you are on my blog list :)

Toni said...

Thanks for sharing your process. I love your printed fish.

Hedera said...

In several of the pics, the fish under paper actually appears to be under water.. and I was also reminded of something ancient painted upon a rock wall - so very interesting!

Threadspider said...

This whole process is absolutely fascinating as well as beautiful. I wonder who first thought fish printing would make art?

Sydney Harper said...

Thanks for showing your wet mount process. I really like the texture that fish printing gives.

Jeanette said...

Thanks Leslie, it isn't a comprehensive explanation of the process but gives a general idea.

She's rather sweet isn't she Lori?

Margaret, thank you. Yes, none of the gyotaku process is quick, that's part of the appeal for me.

I'm happy you find the sales section easy to use and accessible. Seasonal sales are just that and often better in their own category that make them easier to find. Yes, keep dropping back, I add things as they're created.

Thank you Toni. There is part of me that has a need to share technique and process with others who may want to follow a similar path.

Hedera, you're right. The reverse side does give a translucent look as if through water. These fish are prehistoric in their own right and often what is initially found repulsive becomes fascinating and attractive. The prints all have that feel to them as if you've stumbled across some ancient wall carving.

Threadspider, thanks for commenting. The whole experience of gyotaku is fascinating as well as its history. The Japanese created the process and elevated it to art form long before it ever came to the shores of north America.

This fish especially, Sydney, has a lot of texture as the skin is so rough with so many surfaces to capture. The print itself is challenging to get on a surface that isn't flat.

Pat said...

This is something completely new to me - and its gorgeous!
Found you via Christiane's article and am now following :) xx

Jean Spitzer said...

Fascinating reading about the process.

Beautiful print.

Jeanette said...

Welcome to the blog Pat. Gyotaku is an interesting process and this fish is pretty unique.

Jean, the process is labour intensive but worth it.

Sandra said...

You have such unusual and inspiring work here. Lovely! :0)

Jeanette said...

Thank you Sandra, welcome to my blog!

Yelena Shabrova said...

What a beautiful work, Jeanette! I love how Ruby swims through glowing colors and is, too, glowing. And thank you for taking time to explain how you did it, very interesting.