Mounting Materials and Tools

This is a short guide to tools and materials for traditional wet mounting, to see the full process in action try this video from the British Museum:

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Mounting: Materials

  • Alum Powder: high grade fine alum powder. It is used to wash paintings and make mounting glues.
  • Supporting Paper 托纸: in fact this is also Xuan paper. Since there are many types of Xuan papers, the type of supporting paper is up to the type of Xuan paper which is used for the painting.
  • Glue: it is made with flour and alum. Also, in order to ward off mould etc, you can also add some antibiotic agent in the flour when making the glue.
  • Silk fabrics, paper: these special fabrics or papers are used to decorate the mounting. These fabrics have two sides and you need to be careful to choose the outside of the fabric to mount. To be specific, theses fabrics are,

–- Jin: A special thick type of ‘silk’. In fact, this fabric is not pure silk. It is silk with polyester. Therefore, the price is very affordable too.

 

 

–- Ling: it is not as thick as Jin . Normally the pattern is either clouds or animals. It is common to use plain colours of Ling. For example the colour can be white, beige, and light grey. Such fabric is very fragile. As a result of this, remember to avoid scratching it. When it is necessary, you can only gently remove the dust with duster.

–- Juan: it is thin and strong and it is mostly pure silk. Unlike other fabrics, either side of Juan silk can be ok for mounting.

–- Mounting Paper: traditionally, people used Pi paper to replace expensive special mounting paper. However, nowadays due to the production improvements, it is affordable to use special mounting papers. For normal paintings, you can choose normal machine made mounting papers; for valuable art works and ancient paintings, it is still recommended to use expensive handmade mounting papers.

Pi Paper

Mounting: Tools

Table:

mounting table
  • Table height is up to the height of the person who is going to do the mounting work. In China the recommended table height is 80cm. In Europe and North America, the table may be higher.
  • Table surface should be flat. The size of the table is up to the size of the painting which you plan to mount. However, normally the bigger the table is the better.
  • Table Colour should be dark. In order to help detect the details, it is very important to make the table painted in dark colour so that it can create big colour contrast when mounting painting which is done on white paper. The popular colour for mounting table in China is dark red.

Mounting Wall:

mounting wall

The purpose of preparing a flat mounting wall is to hang painting. Therefore, as long as it is flat it is good. You can hang a piece of flat wood on flat wall in your house. Or, you can reuse a wooden door.

palm brush

Palm Brush 棕刷(排刷):

One big size palm brush and two small size palm brushes are needed. The big brush is used to apply water on painting; one small brush is used to apply glue while the other small brush is used to flatten the painting and get rid of the bubbles between papers by brushing the paper surface. It is very important to keep these brushes clean and dry.

The new palm brush should not be used directly to mount paintings. It needs special treatment. First boil the new palm brush in alkaline water to get rid of the chemicals on palm barks. Then use #4 sandpaper to polish the brush edge so that the brush would not break the painting during mounting.

wool brush

Wool Brush 排笔:

This is a special wide wool brush made from 18 long-pointed wool brushes and used to apply mounting glue.

Before use it is recommended to rinse the new wool brush with alum water.
After use, as with any brush, remember to clean and dry the brush after using it.

feather duster

Feather Duster:

The duster is used to get rid of the bubbles between papers and also clean duster, extra water drops. In China, the traditional feather duster is made of chicken feather. If this type of duster is not available, you can also find plastic duster easily in local supermarket.

Knives:

Several different shapes of knives are needed for mounting. Refer to the photos below.

Awl:

There are many awls available in market but a comfortable one specially made for mounting purpose might be difficult to find. Therefore, you can make one yourself at home. Find the largest size, of around 7 to 10 cm length, sewing needle you can find at home. Then use paper to wrap the needle carefully with glue till the size of the needle handle is comfortable for you.

Tweezers:

It is not used often. The main function of tweezers in mounting is to remove small any lint or hair.

Spatula 起子:

It is a blunt blade bamboo knife which is designed to help remove the painting from the mounting wall or mounting table. If you cannot find a proper one, you can also make one at home with a piece of fine bamboo and then polish the bamboo extremely well so that it would not break the painting.

Wooden Frame 尺板:

It is a long piece of wood tool with the same shape as ruler. The standard size is around 5 * 150 to 200 cm. The purpose of this tool is to help fold, cut, and stabilise the paper. Therefore, you can either make such tools at home or find similar tool in your local supermarket.

A piece of thin flat wood or plastic surface 裁板:

it is used to lay beneath the mounting paper/ silk when cutting the materials in order to protect the mounting table from being scratched.

Rolling Pin:

The popular size in China is 3 to 4 cm diameter, 66 cm length.

Smooth big stone 砑石:

In China people look for big size stone and polish on size of to make it flat. You can find such tool available in special Chinese art shops. However, according to inkston’s experience, it is not easy to find a proper one in market. Therefore, we would simply recommend you to use fine paperweight which you use for painting. If you are professional mounting craftsmen, we would still suggest you to make such stone yourself.

Wax:

Wax is used on the back size of the painting to protect the painting from moths and moulds and humidity. The popular wax used in China is a special white wax from SiChuan province 四川.

Strings, tapes, wood parts.

Besides materials listed above, there are also other small tools you might need for mounting. 

Visit Mounting Accessories Shop

 

 

* Reference: page 4 – 9, 图说中国书画装裱Chinese Mounting Guide with Photos’, Yan Gui Rong 严桂荣, Shanghai People’s Art Publishing House, edition 1, January, 2016.

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