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The Chester Beatty Library in Dublin with the continued support of The Sumitomo Foundation in Tokyo, have now commissioned Restorient to conserve three more of their most treasured Japanese paintings. Dating from the early 17th century this set of hand scrolls chart the epic tale of "Hunting the Ogres" It will be possible to follow the conservation of these magnificent hand scrolls here on this blog. We at Restorient are delighted to have the opportunity to share this remarkable project, and to offer some insights into this type of specialist conservation.

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Thursday, 6 February 2014

Soy size

Scroll one during retouching

Whilst the condition of the three hand scrolls is generally very good there are inevitably some areas of loss and damage which have occurred during their four hundred year history. Any missing areas are repaired with a matching gampi fibred paper. However before we can apply any colour to  harmonise the repair with it's surroundings it needs to be sized.

The traditional way of doing this is to apply a very dilute solution of freshly prepared soy milk. This prevents the colour from being absorbed too quickly by the paper and allows a much greater degree of control when applying any colour.

The stages of preparing the soy size

The soy beans are soaked overnight - around 10 beans to 100ml of water. These are then ground to a pulp (in this case using an earthenware Japanese grinding bowl -suribachi), strained to separate the liquid from the pulp and then diluted with more water for use.  

Contemporary artists also find this soy size very useful when working with absorbent papers.

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