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December 2006 - Status Update ... in China

Early in the year, I made contact with a scroll mounting company in Beijing, and made tentative plans to use their workshop to do the mounting job for these prints. I had them send me a sample; we discussed fabrics, costs, etc., and it seemed as though they would be able to do the job for me. A couple of months ago, back at the end of October, when the first test prints were coming off the blocks, I sent one over to them for a trial mounting.

They had seemed eager to get my business, but they took a very long time to get the work done, and it was over a month later before the first sample arrived back here in Ome. It was no good. They had disobeyed my instructions on some points, the finishing was poor, and they had used a process that spoiled the finish on the metallic pigments. Back to the drawing board ...

Internet searching turned up nothing suitable, as it seems that traditional workshops of this type aren't very active in the computer world yet. So Sadako and I booked a flight, and headed over to Shanghai to see what we could rustle up. I selected Shanghai because I read somewhere that the nearby city of Suzhou was known at one time for a concentration of scroll mounters there.

It would take a book to relate all our adventures, but we did manage to locate a family group of scroll mounting workshops, in the countryside outside Suzhou. We inspected the work on their worktables, along with the finished scrolls hanging up for display, and it seemed pretty good, so we started talking about the possibility of them doing my job.

Here are a few photos that we took that first day ... the process starts with the painting being placed face down on a table and brushed with a thin paste:

The paper of these chinese paintings is so thin it immediately becomes transparent when wet:

After another sheet of paper is glued to the back, the combination is pasted by the edges to large panels for initial drying.

There is a lot more to the process of course, but that's all we were able to see during that first short visit. We then had a good discussion of how he would handle my prints ...

I decided to ask them to do my job, and left a batch of my prints with them to be mounted. Once these arrive in Japan - hopefully around the first week in January - I'll decide whether or not to send another batch ... and then another ... and another ... Because that's just the way that I too am spending the weeks these days - working away in my cold workshop, getting the prints done, in small batches ...

When I get a minute, I'll post about the ongoing adventures with the box maker ... :-(