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Thread: Wavy painting on rice paper

  1. #1
    CGF, Certified Grumble Framer
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    Default Wavy painting on rice paper

    Is there any safe way to flatten this type of art? I recently framed two paintings from China on what I assume is thin rice paper. The art was loosely rolled and rippled when they brougt it in. The customers insisted to have the art to to float between two pieces of glass. I discouraged this method, but I gave in to floating it between two pieces of acrylic due to the reduced chance of the art sticking to the glass.

    I mounted the art to the acrylic with two dots of rice starch paste along with the byproduct of static from the acrylic. When they picked up the paintings, they were relativley flat. A week later they came back with the art and were unhappy with the ripples in the art. The static charge had weakened. I told them that is the nature of the paper to do this due to environment and paint on such thin paper. I guess I'm a victim of the static making the mount look flat when they picked up the art. However, they are so particular that they would not have accepted it without the benefit of the static. I told them that I will not mount the art with anymore adhisive than I used origianlly.

    So, does anyone have suggestions of how to get this paper flat?

    Thanks, Ron
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  • #2
    MGF Master Grumble Framer 05's Avatar
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    Search 'humidity chamber', then look for the thread called 'papyrus' for an explanation of standard humidification and flattening technique.
    There is never any guarantee that paper will stay flat, of course. If you tape the edges of the mat package (from the front of the glazing to the back of the backing board), a seal is created that HELPS to stabilize the RH; sudden temperature changes (like direct sun) can wreak havoc with it ; paper conservators debate the merits and demerits of this seal.
    We use 3M 850 tape, available at an unbelievable price, for this purpose only.

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    Size?

    Type of paint?

    What is the value? That's a trick question...Is the value monetary, sentimental, historic, or non-existent?

    How badly rippled? Did the ripples get worse, or are they just more noticeable since the static has disippated and loosened the mount?

    Photos would help.

    It may be unreasonable for the customer to expect you to make the art paper perfectly flat without damaging it, since most painted paper art is, by nature, not flat.

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    Jim,
    The paper size is 8x14.

    The paint looks like watercolor and perhaps ink for the black chinese text.

    The art is sentimental. Common tourist art.

    The condition is good. The ripples are more noticable with the lack of static It looks like dozens of other paintings from Asia of this type that I have framed over the years. However, these clients are extremely particular.

    This is the first time I have mounted this type of art sanwiched between two pieces of acrylic.

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    SGF Supreme Grumble Framer Rebecca's Avatar
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    To flatten you could very lightly humidify and stretch dry by using strips of Rising 8-ply (most rigid of the 8-plys I know) lain over the edges by 1/8" or so and weighted. Or it may flatten out by itself once released of the partial/uneven restraint of the acrylic and allowed to adjust back to its "happy place".

    If, when it is flattened/relaxed it can be smooshed flat without creasing, you might consider sandwiching between very thick plexi, which would give even overall support and sealing edges as Sam suggested. I had occasion to use 5/8" plexi lately, for a large pressure mount for which I did not want any bowing. Heavy but worked a charm. I am sure that plexi that thick would not bow, especially for the size you are speaking of, and so there would not be much chance of rippling regardless of later T or RH changes.
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    SPFG Supreme Picture Framer God Rick Granick's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rebecca View Post
    I had occasion to use 5/8" plexi lately, for a large pressure mount for which I did not want any bowing. Heavy but worked a charm. I am sure that plexi that thick would not bow, especially for the size you are speaking of, and so there would not be much chance of rippling regardless of later T or RH changes.
    I bet the customer's mouth will "bow" in a downward position when presented with the cost for sourcing and using 5/8" plexi and the deeper frame and methods needed to keep it all together, relative to the value of "tourist" art.
    They may have to choose between relative flatness, and abandoning their desire for see-thru borders.
    Rick

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    Default Wavy painting on rice paper.

    Without seeing the art- I'll still take a stab at the problem.

    Generally this art has large areas of ink and larger areas of no ink. The ink swells or puckers the paper depending on the phase of the moon.

    If you lay the art down on a thick piece of glass and put yet another thick piece of glass on top of it, you can show the customer that there is no amount of pressure that wil make it lay visually flat.

    Remind them that you are a framer, not a magician (Thanks Vivian).

    Fixing this is very problematic as changes in humidity will affect the different areas differently. Loose/loose.

    You can tape seal the glass-art-backing package like was mentioned above and that will help but it's still gonna look wavy.

    You could humidify like was mentioned above to relax the wavyness - test with the two pieces of glass to see if it worked - then drymount the sucker. The risk is pretty great and the purists amongst us are twitching a lot right now. Make it your customers call.
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    SGF Supreme Grumble Framer Rebecca's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rick Granick View Post
    I bet the customer's mouth will "bow" in a downward position when presented with the cost for sourcing and using 5/8" plexi and the deeper frame and methods needed to keep it all together, relative to the value of "tourist" art.
    Rick
    Hahahah! I have some offcuts I could sell you for cheap

    Greg, I am a changed woman lol. I came to the grumble all conservatory and idealistic, now I see there are many gradations though I don't always agree with how the framer or owner decides where the measure lies. I do agree with your reasoning about why the wavyness is happening.
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    SPFG Supreme Picture Framer God Rick Granick's Avatar
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    Rebecca, I thinks it's just that by the time folks come to someone like you, they probably need the "conservatory and idealistic" measures. We in the "down and dirty" retail end of things see a much broader range of needs. Sometimes we send them along to you, but sometimes we have to believe them when they say that all they want is a way to get it on the wall. We usually try to sway them towards your end of the spectrum. It's when their expectations exceed the realities of the situation that we have to start quoting Vivian.
    Rick

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    CGF II, Certified Grumble Framer Level II wendy lang's Avatar
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    I had a customer threaten me with a lawsuit over this same issue. They had had their piece conserved when they brought it to me, but over the two weeks we held it before getting to the framing of it, because it was in our usual "que" of framing, it started to buckle. I spoke to their conservator. He said "Old, buckled paper 'remembers' it's previous state" and he could do no more to help it.

    People just gotta realize that "perfection" isn't always possible, no matter how much they wish--or pay!--for it!

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    I always like to relate these problems to "do you want the wood frame to look like wood with grain and knots and texture" or do you want the wood frame to look like Formica with perfect (phony) grain, etc?
    Do you want your artwork to look like a cheap, perfectly flat drymounted poster or do you want it to look real with the paint spatters, drips and texture and dimension?
    Sometimes you see original artwork that has drips and fingerprints and hair on it(cat hair, dog hair, brush hair, who knows?). Do we fix or correct it, I don't think so.
    Original artwork is not perfect, it has flaws and it's just part of what it is. Just my opinion.
    How you can explain this to a client may be a whole other thread.
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    Is there anyone near you that does wet-mounting of Asian art? That's probably what this needs, and then you could sandwich the wetmounted art between the plexi.
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    This is an easy trap to get caught in. The failing lies within the nature of the artwork itself. Not the inabillty of the framer to 'fix' it. But if you are not careful the customer can quickly switch the onus onto you and you get stuck with trying to do the impossible.

    Had a guy in the other week with a 'oil painting'. Well he thought it was a painting. I had my suspicions when I saw it was actually painted on paper that had been glued to canvas/stretchers. It was in a moderately poor state. The paper around the edges was peeling of and flaking and there were tears/splits/holes. He was adamant it was a 'real' painting though. It had paint on it. Not to mention a coat of varnish. I explained that this was a common practice in times gone by to overpaint prints in places to give them the look of the real thing. Then he got on the restoration/cleaning. I had my doubts whether this was actually possible. If it was, it would take someone of exceptional skill and cost a fortune.

    Then he started on the "can't you just....." routine. I explained that anything like that would just make it worse. Leave it alone. So I'm not even going to try 'improvements'. what I am going to do is engineer a frame so that the raggy bits on the edges are covered. The central image is clear enough, The splits, etc are just part of it's history. I'll glaze it to protect it and to catch any bits that fall off in the future. Hopefully it will turn out reasonably presentable. But basically, I'm working with what I'm given. That's all a customer can reasonably expect.
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    Quote Originally Posted by prospero View Post
    ... But basically, I'm working with what I'm given. That's all a customer can reasonably expect.
    That's all a reasonable customer can reasonably expect.

    It's not the reasonable customers with reasonable expectations that give us these problems.

    Clive.

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    One of the main contributing factors to cockling is humidity. Ask your customers to keep the humidity at their houses (as well as in your workshops) below 55% RH, and temperature fluctuation less than 5 C, otherwise soon or later buckling will occur, especially when it comes to work on more porous materials like asian papers.

    If they are not going to invest in constant humidity and temperature control in their houses, (not to mention UV filtering windows, cooking less at home etc.), they just have to accept the fact that the works will buckle in time. And they will need to have conservators work on the pieces ever now and again, just like on going costs for cars.

    Normally traditional chinese paintings are mounted with a backing layer made of thicker paper, similar to chine colle, then its mounted with thick silk and rollers, thats their traditional way to stop the buckling process by thickening the papers and benefiting from the weight of the hardwood rollers when its hung. By the sound of it the work that you received did not go through the secondary process, which is the cause of this problem. If I was in the position I would contact an asian art conservator and have the secondary process done without the rollers, then the work can be floated with micro dot. I would also try to talk the customer out of the sandwiching methodology, due to condensation hazard with direct contact to natural pigments.

    Expect to pay over 4 digits if they want to get the job done properly, excluding the constant humidity and temperature control costs at home. Otherwise you just have to tell them that it is not possible to have the painting perfectly flat all the time.

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