Chinese paintings on rice paper

Chinese calligraphy and painting is commonly written or painted on rice paper, also known as 宣纸 (xuān zhǐ) in Chinese. Interestingly, the paper is not made mainly from rice, but from other plant fibres.

Due to its excellent absorbency of water, ink and colour, the piece will become wrinkled after it’s painted on. To better appreciate and preserve the artwork for centuries, the Chinese invented the process of wet mounting – a traditional method which is done by hand and is a skill that is becoming rarer each day.

Differences between wet and dry mounting

The traditional wet mounting method, though labour intensive, is non-invasive and reversible. Most importantly, your painting can be remounted in the future without any damage and the end result is more superior to machine or dry/glue mounting.

Dry or machine mounting uses adhesives and is economical. But this fast job of spray gluing the rice paper piece on a cardboard backing is extremely damaging as acidity from the glue and backing can deteriorate the painting’s condition in as quick as a year. This option is non-reversible and the painting becomes damaged due to poor framing methods.

If the rice paper is in its raw original form, it will be too thin and fragile for framing. It needs to be mounted by a Chinese scroll mounting specialist to get rid of creases and add rice paper backing and mounted flat. Since mounting and scroll making are detail-oriented tasks that can be critically difficult and risky, the work is specially tasked to Chinese scroll mounting specialists (mounters, 装裱师 or 裱画师) before proceeding with framing.

Chinese paintings on rice paper

Chinese calligraphy and painting is commonly written or painted on rice paper, also known as 宣纸 (xuān zhǐ) in Chinese. Interestingly, the paper is not made mainly from rice, but from other plant fibres.

Due to its excellent absorbency of water, ink and colour, the piece will become wrinkled after it’s painted on. To better appreciate and preserve the artwork for centuries, the Chinese invented the process of wet mounting – a traditional method which is done by hand and is a skill that is becoming rarer each day.

Differences between wet and dry mounting

The traditional wet mounting method, though labour intensive, is non-invasive and reversible. Most importantly, your painting can be remounted in the future without any damage and the end result is more superior to machine or dry/glue mounting.

Dry or machine mounting uses adhesives and is economical. But this fast job of spray gluing the rice paper piece on a cardboard backing is extremely damaging as acidity from the glue and backing can deteriorate the painting’s condition in as quick as a year. This option is non-reversible and the painting becomes damaged due to poor framing methods.

If the rice paper is in its raw original form, it will be too thin and fragile for framing. It needs to be mounted by a Chinese scroll mounting specialist to get rid of creases and add rice paper backing and mounted flat. Since mounting and scroll making are detail-oriented tasks that can be critically difficult and risky, the work is specially tasked to Chinese scroll mounting specialists (mounters, 装裱师 or 裱画师) before proceeding with framing.

Before and after scroll mounting and framing

Chinese Calligraphy Rice Paper Art Before Scroll Mounting Tuodi
Chinese Calligraphy Rice Paper Art After Scroll Mounting Tuodi Matboard Border Birch Wood Frame

Before and after scroll mounting and framing

Framing Methods

There are several ways to frame Chinese rice paper paintings. The most economical way is direct framing. The frame comes directly to the edge of the artwork, no matboards are used and the glazing will rest on the artwork.

In the example below, the rice paper has gone through the necessary treatments to thicken the paper and a silk brocade border has been added to it by Chinese scroll mounting specialists. We then used direct framing method to frame it.

Framing Methods

There are several ways to frame Chinese rice paper paintings. The most economical way is direct framing. The frame comes directly to the edge of the artwork, no matboards are used and the glazing will rest on the artwork.

In the example below, the rice paper has gone through the necessary treatments to thicken the paper and a silk brocade border has been added to it by Chinese scroll mounting specialists. We then used direct framing method to frame it.

Direct framing of an artwork with silk brocade border

Chinese Calligraphy Rice Paper Art Direct Framing Silk Brocade Border Dark Brown Frame

Direct framing of an artwork with silk brocade border

For a traditional look, we have options for silk borders, gold or dark wood frames. There are options for silk brocade borders like the above example, or if you do not want the glazing to rest directly on the artwork, you can choose to add matboard or silk borders to lift the glass off. 

For a traditional look, we have options for silk borders, gold or dark wood frames. There are options for silk brocade borders like the above example, or if you do not want the glazing to rest directly on the artwork, you can choose to add matboard or silk borders to lift the glass off. 

 Framing with the use of matboards and silk borders

Chinese Tree Birds Rice Paper Art Triple Matboard Border Gold Bronze Frame
Chinese Tree Birds Pheasants Rice Paper Art Black Silk Border Gold Bronze Frame

 Framing with the use of matboards and silk borders

In recent times, more people have started using contemporary framing designs for Chinese rice
paper paintings and these have generated beautiful results for modern and contemporary spaces
and homes.

To see more framing examples and get inspired, click here.

In recent times, more people have started using contemporary framing designs for Chinese rice paper paintings and these have generated beautiful results for modern and contemporary spaces and homes.

To see more framing examples and get inspired, click here.

Contemporary framing styles for Chinese paintings

 Contemporary framing styles for Chinese paintings

Restoration

Chinese rice papers, also known as Xuan paper or Shuen paper and 宣纸 (Xuān zhǐ) in Chinese, are prone to becoming mouldy due to its material compound which are often made up of plant fibres. Its sensitivity to moisture also plays a part, especially in a high humidity environment like Singapore.

Unlike museums, most of us do not store artworks in an environment with controlled temperature and humidity, thus moulding can be inevitable. The mould spots however can be removed with restoration treatments done by professional art restorers.  

The restoration work for chinese rice paper can be a risky process if the restorer lacks the necessary knowledge of the techniques and material involved. We work with professional restorers who are equipped with years of experience in restoring Chinese rice paper calligraphy and painting. Here is the range of services that they provide:

  • Re-mount artwork on scroll or silk
  • Repair tears and cracks on artwork
  • Clean and remove mold on artwork 
  • Remove foxing (yellow spots), watermarks, stains or damage by insects

The extent and cost of restoration depends on the severity of damage which can be determined when you bring the artwork down to us for assessment.

To find out more about restoration, click here.

Restoration

Chinese rice papers, also known as Xuan paper or Shuen paper and 宣纸 (Xuān zhǐ) in Chinese, are prone to becoming mouldy due to its material compound which are often made up of plant fibres. Its sensitivity to moisture also plays a part, especially in a high humidity environment like Singapore.

Unlike museums, most of us do not store artworks in an environment with controlled temperature and humidity, thus moulding can be inevitable. The mould spots however can be removed with restoration treatments done by professional art restorers.  

The restoration work for chinese rice paper can be a risky process if the restorer lacks the necessary knowledge of the techniques and material involved. We work with professional restorers who are equipped with years of experience in restoring Chinese rice paper calligraphy and painting. Here is the range of services that they provide:

  • Re-mount artwork on scroll or silk
  • Repair tears and cracks on artwork
  • Clean and remove mold on artwork 
  • Remove foxing (yellow spots), watermarks, stains or damage by insects

The extent and cost of restoration depends on the severity of damage which can be determined when you bring the artwork down to us for assessment.

To find out more about restoration, click here.

        Before and after restoration to reduce mould spots

Before and after restoration to reduce mould spots

If you are concerned about better preservation of the artwork, we have options for acid-free matboards, alpha cellulose museum boards, acid-free backing boards, corflute backing boards and so on.

To protect the colours from fading, we also offer these glazing options with UV protection:

  • Plexiglas® UV100 (99.7% UV protection, shatter resistant)
  • TruVue Conservation Clear® Glass (99% UV protection)
  • TruVue Museum Glass® (99% UV protection, anti-reflective)
  • TruVue Optium Museum Acrylic® (99% UV protection, anti-reflective, abrasion resistant, anti-static, shatter resistant)

To find out more about conservation methods, click here.

Get A Quote

If you are concerned about better preservation of the artwork, we have options for acid-free matboards, alpha cellulose museum boards, acid-free backing boards, corflute backing boards and so on.

To protect the colours from fading, we also offer these glazing options with UV protection:

  • Plexiglas® UV100 (99.7% UV protection, shatter resistant)
  • TruVue Conservation Clear® Glass (99% UV protection)
  • TruVue Museum Glass® (99% UV protection, anti-reflective)
  • TruVue Optium Museum Acrylic® (99% UV protection, anti-reflective, abrasion resistant, anti-static, shatter resistant)

To find out more about conservation methods, click here.

Get A Quote