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Re: starchpaste

In addition to Sam Lanham's ref. to Ikegami's book, _Japanese Bookbinding_,
there is further discussion in Masako Koyano's book, _Japanese Scroll
Paintings_, published by FAIC, Washington, DC, 1979.

On page 30, 31, the author states: "Furunori (aged paste)  Material:  this
is also a paste made of wheat starch.  Through infrared spectral analysis
it was found that there is a small difference at the molecular level
between new and aged wheat starch paste.  The infrared spectrum of the aged
paste shows a peak at 1750 cm -1.  This peak indicates that some of the
hydroxyl groups of the aged starch have been oxidized.

Preparation:  the wheat starch must be cooked in the same way as for the
standard paste, but only in winter-time.  The cooled paste is kept in a
large, thick-walled pottery jar.  The top of the paste is covered with a
thin layer of cold water.  A top is placed on the jar, which is sealed with
Japanese paper.  The jar is then placed in the ground in a cool, dark place
so that half of the vessel projects above ground level.  It is stored in
this position for eight to ten years.  the top water is changed once a year
on the coldest day of winter.  When the jar is uncovered, eight to ten
years after it was first cooked, a heavy black layer of mold is visible on
the top and a very smooth, pale beige paste underneath.

Use:  the aged paste, being a weak adhesive, is usually used for the second
and third backing [of a scroll]."

Koyano states that each mounting studio has ten earthenware containers for
holding aged paste, each measuring 3 ft. high by 2.5 ft. max. diameter with
an 18 inch mouth, glazed inside and out (I'm guessing one for each
year...); studio containers for standard paste are 10 inches high by 7
inches in diameter with a mouth about 5 inches wide.  Two per studio.

Nothing I've seen or read suggests that after 8-10 years aging a cooked
wheat starch paste will not support mold growth if it is left out on the

In 1985 I cleaned out a baby food jar and filled it approx. 1/3 full with
fresh wheat starch paste.  A few weeks later I did another jar.  These jars
have been shoved here and there around the bench since then. The paste in
one jar still looks fine; moist with a little standing water, in the other
jar is a black substance.  Bad technique or a bad seal.

>at some time i heard that the japanese used to cook their paste and
>bury/keep it in a cool place for a long period until needed.
>supposedly  while stored the paste underwent a change to the effect that
>when brought out to be used, it would not spoil anymore?
>i have been unable to locate a source for this information. i would
>appreciate sources/comments.
>thank you
>Gudrun Aurand

Jack C. Thompson
Thompson Conservation Lab
7549 N. Fenwick
Portland, Oregon  97217


"The lyfe so short; the craft so long to lerne."

Chaucer, _The Parlement of Foules_ 1386.

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