Adventures in mounting

A finished piece of calligraphy is not only about the brush strokes on paper. Seal carving is an adjacent art, as we use seals to decorate a painting or work of calligraphy. Mounting is also a very important part of a work. The thin rice paper becomes wrinkled with the wet ink. Mounting provides a thicker backing, and also smooths out the paper.

Mounting is definitely an art on its own. The work is wetted down, and another paper placed on top. Both pieces of paper are then left to dry. It can be difficult to find someone locally who can mount works. Even with someone local, timing can be an issue due to a mounter’s work load. Humidity can also influence the drying time of a mounted piece.

Previously I was curious about mounting and bought the following supplies from Oriental Art Supply: Mounting Techniques, Mounting Paper, OAS Mounting Paste, Mounting Paste Applicator, and Mounting Presser. I didn’t really need to mount any works until recently, when I was pressed to get a work mounted.

To start, I made multiple versions of the work. Since it was my first attempt mounting, I wanted many copies in case anything went wrong. Mounting isn’t easy. If it was, all calligraphers would do it!

I read the Mounting Techniques manual multiple times. I made a point of understanding exactly what steps came before and after, so I could move through them as naturally as possible without stopping for too long a time.

Mixing the OAS Mounting Paste was pretty simple. It started as a white mixture. Once it was diluted with the right amount of water, the paste turned clear.

I had to transfer the mixture to a pan because the original container I used was too small for the final paste. It worked pretty well because the pan was big enough for the applicator.

It took a couple of attempts before I got a handle of how much paste to use. On my first attempt, I used too much paste and did not handle the applicator well. I ended up tearing the work.

By the third try, I think I understood the amount of paste needed, and the rhythm of moving the paper to the drying board. It’s not easy handling wet and sticky paper.

The final work turned out pretty well. I think the paper I used was pretty forgiving and durable.

Similarly to calligraphy, it’s going to take a lot of practice until I’m fully confident in mounting. I suppose that’s even more motivation to create new works!