Conservation DistList Archives [Date] [Subject] [Author] [SEARCH]

Subject: Conservation of pith paper

Conservation of pith paper

From: Jack C. Thompson <tcl>
Date: Wednesday, March 15, 2000
Julia M. Landry <j.landry [at] ns__sympatico__ca> writes

>Does anyone have any experience working with Chinese pith paper,
>often mistakenly called rice paper.  I'd be interested to receive
>any information on its physical properties, etc.

According to Dard Hunter, in his book, Papermaking: The History and
Technique of an Ancient Craft, the material comes from the "..inner
pith of the kung-shu (Tetrapanax papyriferum_), formerly Fatsia
papyrifera, a plant that grows in the hills of northern Formosa

It has a honeycomb cross section and this made it a desirable
support for (esp.) 19th c. water color painters because the
honeycomb would hold much more pigment than flat paper, giving the
images a great depth.

It becomes brittle over time and splits, becoming very friable.

I have floated pith paintings in water until they relaxed and then
lined them with thin, handmade Japanese paper using wheat starch
paste and placed them on a drying board, face out, to dry.

When the piece(s) were dry and stable, I remove them from the drying
board and attach them to a piece of 2-4 ply museum board by pasting
the margins of Japanese paper onto the back of the museum board;
this insures that the pieces will remain flat but not under much

If the pieces came from a book (pith paper was sometimes sold in
blank book form) the treatment is the same.  Rather than returning
the leaves to a book format, I prefer interleaving with glassine
paper and placing them in a protective box.

Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Laboratory
Portland, Oregon 97217
503-735-3942  (voice/fax)

                  Conservation DistList Instance 13:48
                  Distributed: Friday, March 24, 2000
                       Message Id: cdl-13-48-008
Received on Wednesday, 15 March, 2000

[Search all CoOL documents]