Mounting Your Artwork
1. A smooth piece of plywood board that is 24 by 35 inches or larger.
2. Metylan Standard Clear Cellulose Adhesive available at paint stores).
3. A plastic tub with lid to mix and contain the paste.
4. A wallpaper applicator (although I prefer to use my hands).
5. Acid-free barrier paper (single-ply rag board). The most common size is 32 by 40 inches.
6. Krylon #1303 Crystal Clear spray from a paint or hardware store.
7. Carpet cutter and Xacto knife.
Mounting not only helps to preserve your beautiful paintings, but it also takes out the wrinkles and provides a stronger, less fragile piece of paper. There is a certain touch to this process, so learn and experiment with some less interesting paintings before attempting to mount one of your masterpieces.
Making the Paste
Place your personal chop and additional mood seals on your paintings before mounting them. You cannot get as clear an impression after the painting is mounted.
Mix one (1) cup of cold water for every level tablespoon of Metylan paste, stirring constantly while slowly adding the water. Because of atmospheric conditions, you might add more or less than one cup of water to achieve a paste that is a little thinner than honey and a little thicker than egg whites.
Let the paste stand for fifteen minutes while stirring every three or four minutes. After fifteen minutes, gradually add more water if needed to ensure a smooth consistency as described above. Remove any visible lumps.
Cover and refrigerate the paste for twenty-four hours to allow the mixture to develop correctly. The paste cannot be stored and used later. For the best results, do not make more than two cups of paste at a time.
The 15 Steps
1. When your painting is thoroughly dry, spray the areas of concentrated color with clear acrylic sealer to prevent color-run. (By concentrated color, I mean those areas of the painting in which the color is deeper and richer.) This is an extremely crucial step and should be done outside when it is not windy. While spraying, hold the can at least ten inches away from your painting. Do not over-saturate; you want a thin film. I like to do a quick spray, wait a moment, and then do another. Light color washes or pale colors should not be sprayed, as the more area you spray, the more difficult it will be to spread the paste.
2. Cut a piece of barrier paper six inches wider and six inches longer than your painting to have a three-inch border around it; set the paper aside temporarily. Stand your plywood securely on end so you can walk up to it with a damp painting in hand. If your plywood is only slightly larger than the barrier paper, you may place your board flat on a table.
3. Place your painting face down (very important!) on a smooth non-porous surface; a Formica surface is ideal. Other non-porous surfaces are glass, Plexiglas, or polyurethane wood.
4. Scoop up a handful of paste and start at the center of your painting. With your fingertips, spread the paste evenly using an outward motion, first toward the top half, and then the bottom half of the paper. Add more paste as needed.
The paste must be applied evenly over the entire back surface of the painting to the very edge of the paper. As you spread the paste, very gently pull the paper in the same direction as you are applying. This is very important because it helps to prevent wrinkling.
Check carefully that there are no excess globs of glue. Don't worry about air bubbles; you will be able to remove them in the very next step. Also, if you see a wrinkle or two, do not try to correct it at this point. It is normal for the paste to bleed through the painting, causing it to be lightly tacked to the smooth surface.
5. Pick up the barrier paper and starting at one end of the painting, center your barrier paper three inches outside the painting edge, then slide your hand to guide the paper down smoothly onto the wet painting, leaving a three-inch border on all sides. The painting should be centered underneath the barrier paper.
6. Starting at the center of the barrier paper, with strong pressure and even strokes, use your hands or wallpaper applicator to press evenly and very firmly in an outward motion toward all the borders. Be certain you have pressed down on all areas of the paper. Done correctly, this step removes any air bubbles and wrinkles that remain.
7. Now, apply a one-inch border of paste around the outside edge of the barrier paper. You will adhere the painting to the plywood board in the next steps.
8. The painting and barrier paper should be firmly bonded by now. Starting at one corner, gently lift up the barrier paper and your artwork will come with it.
9. You should be facing the painting at this point. Being careful not to let the paste borders touch each other, walk up to and place your artwork on the plywood board. Be sure that the entire one-inch border of the barrier paper, where you applied paste in Step 7, is completely pasted to the board.
10. Do a final check of the painting making sure all edges are flat. If you see any air bubbles, place a small amount of paste on the bubble and gently work it off to the border of the painting. For wrinkles, apply a small amount of paste and work out with the full area of your index fingernail. If some color bleeds, gently tap with a paper towel.
11. If parts of the border pop up when drying, tape them down with masking tape.
You do not want any air pockets; air pockets cause buckling.
12. Allow the painting to dry on the plywood for about twenty-four hours.
13. When dry, remove the painting from the board by cutting the barrier paper at least an inch away from the painting. With your Xacto knife, slowly and carefully cut the paper away from the plywood. Be sure to leave an inch or more barrier paper border around the painting-you will trim it later. When cutting, be sure to cut firmly but carefully.
14. Set your artwork aside, and tear off (by hand) and throw away whatever remains of the pasted border on the plywood. While you'll want your board to be reasonably clean and neat, you will not be able to remove all of the excess paper. More and more bits of paper will stick to the board as you continue to use it to mount your artwork.
15.. Pencil sign your beautiful painting.
The Chinese masters teach us that patient and careful attention to all details is of supreme importance in Chinese brush painting. You cannot hurry when mounting a painting. You will find as you progress that the mounting technique has a mind of its own, and it demands strict care and adherence to the standards set by two millennia of unhurried Chinese artistry.
These are the standards intended to cultivate a civilized society and nurture the whole person in the discipline of Chinese brush art. They will become your standards, too, and, in fact, will become a part of you.
I celebrate your beautiful painting!
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