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Stretching, Mounting and Mat Cutting

For a downloadable file to print about WET stretching and mounting, click Stretching and Mounting.pdf


For a downloadable file to print about DRY stretching and mounting, click Dry Mount Method.pdf

For a downloadable file to print about Mat Cutting, click Mat Cutting Made Easy.pdf


Painting your sumi-e masterpiece is only half of the project. Rice paper is not sized, meaning it does not contain stiffeners or sizing that help protect the paper from wrinkles and shrinkage. Lack of sizing is what gives rice paper the properties that allow ink and paint to blend or bleed, creating the unique look of sumi-e painting. To be preserved wrinkle-free, your painting must now be stretched and mounted onto special backing paper before it can be framed and displayed.




Here are the supplies you will need, and basic directions for traditional wet-style stretching and mounting. If you are new to stretching and mounting, it is best to try it first at a workshop or under the supervision an experienced sumi-e painter. Practice first on a painting that is not your masterpiece but is painted on the same paper with the same ink and paints.



  • Mounting paper

  • Mounting surface/board (smooth, clean formica, glass, plexiglass, masonite, wood;

        The mounting surface/board must be at least 5” larger than your painting, length and width)

  • Wheat paste (Yasutomo Nori)

  • Alum

  • 2 wide brushes (3” or 4”)

  • Plastic bristle brush (ton ton)

  • Blue masking tape

  • Paper towels

  • Small spray bottle with water

  • Krylon fixative or hair spray



  1. Cut the mounting (backing) paper so it is about 1 inch larger than your painting on all sides,

  2. Mix about 2 Tablespoons (3 squeezes) of wheat paste and 1/4 teaspoon alum in about 2/3 cup warm water. Completely dissolve all the lumps.

  3. If your painting has very colorful areas, lightly spray (OUTDOORS) with Krylon or hair spray on these areas (this prevents the color from bleeding).

  4. Place your painting face down on a clean mounting surface.

  5. Use a wide, thin, soft brush (hake type), covered well in the glue solution to cover the back of the painting with an even coat of glue. START PAINTING FROM THE CENTER OUT, little by little, working the wrinkles and bubbles out to the edges. Paper will be very wet.

  6. Wipe off excess glue around the painting, so the exposed mounting surface is clean. Pick off any brush hairs or lint.

  7. Place the rough side of the mounting paper over the painting, centering it so there is a 1 inch border all around. Line it up along one edge, then let it drape down.

  8. Brush with a wide DRY brush from the middle of the painting out to the edges.

  9. Spray lightly and evenly with water all over the rice paper, then brush again with the dry brush from the center out. NOTE: When brushing, use some pressure, but be sensitive not to tear or damage the paper. Some paper is very fragile, especially when wet.

  10. Lay a couple of layers of paper towel over the painting and pound with the ton ton, all over. This will absorb some of the moisture, and adheres the 2 papers.

  11. Lift a corner of the paper and peel the picture away from the surface at an angle, not straight up and lay it down face up (either on the same surface or another one).

  12. Again put paper towels on the picture and brush with a large, soft, dry brush to draw out more moisture.

  13. Tape the edges of the painting down all the way around. Allow it to dry like this for several hours to 2 days, depending on the weather. Do not let it dry in the wind or sun. Indoors is best.

  14. Remove the tape and it is ready for framing, wrinkle free.

NOTE: A painting can also be left to dry face down. If you do this skip Step #11 and #12.

NOTE: While your painting is still wet, and you see a hair or bubble or something under your picture, you can prick a hole over it with a pin, then extract the particle with a tweezer, then tap the hole closed with your finger.




Finished art piece, glue sheet cut exact same size as art piece, iron with steam function, backing board cut about 1" larger than art (Matt board is good), denim fabric (enough to have 4 layers of fabric for the ironing area), sheet of clean paper larger than art, spray bottle with water.



  1. Spray art with very light amount of water on face up side (set aside few minutes)

  2. Set iron to wool/cotton setting (slight steam)

  3. Lay out denim 4 layers thick on flat firm surface large enough to lay art

  4. And have hot iron near this surface

  5. Cut glue sheet exactly same size as art piece

  6. Cut backing board 1" larger than art piece


Assemble glue sheet:

  1. Place cut glue sheet with glue face up on denim surface

  2. Place art face up on glue sheet matching edges of art with glue sheet edges

  3. (Caution - check to be sure art piece is face up)

  4. Cover with sheet of clean paper

  5. Iron slowly from center going out to edges beginning with center to top section


Assemble to backing:

  1. Remove glue sheet backing from art piece (little wrinkles ok)

  2. Place backing Matt board on denim smooth side up

  3. Place art face up in center of matt board

  4. Cover with clean sheet paper

  5. Iron slowly from center out



1. First, determine your frame size and cut the outer portion of the mat to fit. For example, for a 16” x 20” frame, cut the mat 16” x 20”.

2. Next, determine the size of your painting to be matted, for example, 12” x 16”. You’ll need to measure carefully if you paint on paper that is not a “regular” size. Remember that you’ll have to measure about ¼” smaller all around to make sure that the mat covers all of the edges of the painting.

3. This next step requires some math skills. YIKES!

a. Subtract as follows:

i. 16” – 12” = 4”
ii. 20” – 16” = 4”

b. Then divide as follows:

i. 4” ÷ 2 = 2” (4” is the difference between 16” and 12”, then divided by 2 equals the size of the mat on both sides of the painting)
ii. 4” ÷ 2 = 2” (4” is the difference between 20” and 16”, then divided by 2 equals the size of the mat on both sides of the painting)

4. Using a pencil, ON THE BACK OF THE MAT, draw out the frame size and set the painting over the lines to confirm your measurements. Make any measuring adjustments now. Make sure your lines go past the measurement lines going the other way; you’ll use these lines as guides when cutting the mat.

5. Set the mat cutter to the correct size (in this case 2”). Be sure to follow the manufacturer’s instructions and read the measuring device correctly. Slide a scrap piece of mat board under the rail which holds the cutter (“blade guide”) to protect your mat.

6. Slide your mat RIGHT SIDE DOWN under the blade guide. Put a new blade in the cutter. Test the operation of the cutter by pressing the knob with your thumb to make sure it moves smoothly up and down.

7. Place the cutter on the blade guide, lining up the line on the cutter with the line you have drawn on your mat. Press the blade down and, holding the blade down, move the cutter smoothly from left to right. Stop when the line on the cutter lines up with the line you have drawn on the mat. Lift the cutter off the blade guide and repeat the operation to make sure the cut is complete.

8. Remove the cutter from the blade guide and turn the mat 180 degrees so that you are cutting the mat directly across from the cut you just made. Repeat the operation at 7. above.

9. If you need to adjust the measurement for the next two sides this is the time to do it, then repeat the operation at 7. above two more times.

10. You may have to do a little finessing of the corners with a straight blade to release the top paper of the mat. Go slowly and gently.

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