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Re: [BKARTS] Flour Paste

First off, I purchase wheat starch from a local Chinese grocery store
for 99 cents/lb.

Now, it is possible to pay a few dollars/pound for high grade precipitated
wheat starch.

It is also possible to make it yourself.  Put wheat flour and water together
for awhile and the water begins to rot.  Pour off the water and pour some
more water in.  Keep doing this until the water doesn't spoil so fast.

What you have left in the container is precipitated wheat starch.

Or, purchase the cheap stuff and soak it for a few days.  It will begin
to go sour.  Pour off the water and bring it back to the original level
with fresh distilled water.

Mould attacks the gluten.  When the water remains 'sweet' for awhile,
cook the paste.

When you think that the paste is completely cooked, pour it into a jar
of water.  No skin will form, and if you didn't cook it long enough the
water will become cloudy.  This is a good test, and there is no skin.

Re: 10 yr. old paste.

I have some paste in a jar in the lab which is dated 2/19/93.  Just over
ten years old.  And there is no mold on this paste.

It's in a small pickled herring jar.  Washed out with hot water & soap.

In Japan a traditional apprenticeship in a scroll/screen mounting studio
takes ten years.

A Japanese-American friend of mine visited Japan some years ago and was
able to get an audience with a master restorer/conservator (big guy; a
papermaking village worked to his specification, as did a crew of weavers
who wove brocade to his specifications; he had studios in Japan and Guam).

Her translator was a guy from the U.S. who was in his second year of a ten
year apprenticeship.

They talked.  The translator spent almost as much time writing things down
as he did translating.

As they were leaving my friend asked the translator why he was writing so
much stuff down and learned that the Master, in answering her questions, had
said more about what he (the student) was learning than what he had learned
thus far.

Year One:
Sweep the floor and begin to learn to make paste.

Years Two-Nine:
Other stuff, and make more paste.

Year Ten:
Finish apprenticeship and take a jar of 10-yr. old paste with you as
you go out to make your fortune.

Part of my income comes from restoring 12th - 18th c. books; most of
it comes from restoring art-on-paper, including Asian screens & scrolls.

I have learned that it is possible to make ten-year old paste which is
not quite ten years old, and so can you.

Paste is very important to me, because it is very important to the material
with which I work.

It is simple, and therein lies the complexity.

Be the paste....


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

503/735-3942  (ph/fax)


"The lyfe so short; the craft so long to lerne."
Chaucer  _Parlement of Foules_ 1386

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