Wall Scroll Making

Wall Scroll Making

Now this is some calligraphy art work
on xuan paper. Xuan paper has been made by hand in China
for some 1400 years. Xuan paper is very thin and flexible… …almost like tissue paper. We’re using a
mist of water to relax the fibers and… …get it very flat on the table. This is Li HongLiang. He’s the master mounter
that I’ve been working with for about 12 years. Fast-forward: The paper has dried out
a little and is going on the hot press for about 30 seconds. Out of the press… …and onto the table for a quick
inspection. And now it goes on to a layer of xuan paper that we’ve previously
prepared with heat-activated adhesive. We’re ironing this to laminate the
artwork to the second layer of xuan paper.
The guy with the iron is… Wang ShiDi. He’s been working
here for about 6 years. Now going to the cutting table,
we’ll trim of that excess… …paper and crop the artwork.
This is the final crop for the artwork where we will make sure we have
a straight and square cut. This is Wang Wei. He’s been working with us for over 8
years now. I expect he’s going to open his own mounting
workshop soon but perhaps his loyalty is the only thing
stopping him. I recently talked to him about this
suggesting he open a shop but he says he’s happy
where he’s at for now. This was his first job after graduating
from the Chinese public school system Where he started age 16 or 17 here. In some cases the artwork may
have a rough edge or some kind of problem. This is the
stage where we take of that and trim away any of those problems. Now the artwork has been trimmed and
we’ll roll out some silk brocade cloth. We previously prepared this silk
by adding a layer of xuan paper to the backside that serves
to give the silk some additional body. The first cuts will create the side
borders of the wall scroll. Next we cut the top and bottom silk
panels. You can see the careful measurements to
ensure these pieces are square straight and exactly the right size. This is some brown key line tape.
We actually make this tape ourselves by dying some xuan paper brown and then
adding some heat activated adhesive… …to the back. We use
this key line tape to attach the side borders to the artwork. a gap is left to leave a line
on the front side. This line will serve to visually frame
the artwork. This is a nice extra step that gives the artwork a feel of quality. Some workshops skip all the key line taping that you’re
going to see here and just throw everything together. That may work for
tourist-trash and low quality wall scrolls But our goal is a quality product… …that our customers
will be proud to hang on their wall. So there’s one side… …and a flip to the other side. This is one
of those things that is done completely by hand …and it’s experience that gets you a
straight line in the final product. Now Wang Wei attaches the bottom silk
panel. This is a high stress point so it gets… …two layers key line tape. The top panel goes on, again with a double layer
of key line tape. These top and bottom panels will
get trimmed to a final size later. The side borders and top panels need to
be bonded together. So, some heat-activated adhesive is
applied and ironed on. This adds strength and makes a
low-profile seam between the silk. Now we need to create a flap or pocket
where the wall scroll’s roller will be attached later. An adhesive strip is added first then a
flap of paper. The process is similar for making
a pocket for wooden top frame… …of the wall scroll.
Now we’re going to bond all this together, while giving it some
more body. This will be done by adding a sheet of xuan paper to the back.
First a sheet of heat- activated adhesive is rolled out.
This must be laid perfectly flat… …otherwise you get bumps
in the finished product. Now we pull out a ream of xuan paper and
get out a single sheet. About 12 years ago when we started, these
sheets would cost about 25 cents each. Now they cost over a dollar.
This adds up quickly when you make a couple thousand wall scrolls per year.
The paper size you see here is the most standard for artwork in China.
It’s about 68cm by 136cm. They call this size “si chi”, or roughly translated “four-foot paper”. This is from an old Chinese foot
measuring about 33cm or 13 inches.
This is why you find most artwork in multiples of 33cm.
For instance, the calligraphy artwork we’re mounting here is 33cm wide, and about 99cm tall. We’ll iron this starting at the middle
working towards the edges If you’re counting layers here, there’s
the artwork, a sheet of paper and adhesive added to that, and now a third layer paper adhesive.
If you count where the key line tape is there are a few more layers buried in
certain places. Now we’re back on the cutting table. It’s time to do the final trimming
of the extra silk and paper. By the way, the paper is too expensive two waste, so it’ll go on the back up another
smaller wall scroll later. We actually waste very little in materials
and recycle even the smallest trimmings. This is the final trim, so it must be
straight and square. You see a lot of careful measuring here. Back to the ironing and assembly table. More key line tape is pulled out. And, this time we’ll put a nice edge on
the wall scroll. When finished this will show some tape on the front of the
wall scroll. But will also roll around to the back
sealing the edges. This way, the silk cloth will be protected
from unraveling at the edge. It also gives the scroll a nice look. We use anywhere from 15 to 20 meters of
key line tape on a single wall scroll. So, we make a lot of this tape in our shop. Now it’s time to press the wall scroll.
Each pressing is 30 seconds, so I think I’ll fast forward about 10x the normal speed. Otherwise this segment of pressing would take 10 minutes. We stagger the pressing so if the edge
if one pressing is in one spot the next pressing will overlap so we don’t press
in a crease. A final run through the press. And back to the assembly table.
We now have one solid laminated piece. Next we’ll measure the roller for cutting. We now use a cardboard tube.
I used to insist on using wood but we had some problems with warping and
splintering wood. The cardboard tube is consistent and uniform. Another benefit is, the cardboard tube is
nearly the same strength at half the weight and a quarter of the cost of wood.
This saves up to $10 in postage and nearly
$10 in material costs on each wall scroll.
Once mounted it’s visually impossible to tell the difference. We save our customers up to $20
on each wall scroll which is a huge savings. Of course we still do offer wood by
special request but that’s $20 extra. Off to the Swedish-made Nobex miter saw. Where we’ll cut the top frame and roller. Now you can see the tube is kind of
unfinished here. This is one our wood knobs going in. You can see a little bit of cardboard
tube would show around the edge. So we want it to look like this. We add some key line to hide that and
give it a finished look. When finished it looks like this on the
front side. …and here’s the backside. It’s a lot of effort to add this key line to hide was
is basically one millimeter of cardboard but it’s
worth it. After being disappointed with the
quality of wood knobs on the market, I now design and make my own wood knobs. The knobs are secured with three nails here. We tried glue and other
methods but the tight fit of our proprietary knobs and three nails per knob works out the
best. It’s time to add the wooden top frame.
There’s a few strips reinforcement added since this is a high stress point. We apply some adhesive strips first and
then the wood frame is added. The flaps are wrapped around and the
seam is hidden with some key line tape. All scrolls are delicate by nature. We try to make him as strong as possible.
If you take good care of your wall scroll, it can last, for decades. We actually have
some wall scrolls that have been hanging in the same place for 10 years.
They still look great with just some occasional dusting. All you need to do is keep pets, children, and direct sunlight away. Once a while
maybe touch it with a feather duster. This next part is often misunderstood.
This tan strip of paper being added to the back is actually a label for the wall scroll.
This has been done for centuries in China. It just gives you a place to write the
title of the wall scroll. In the past this helped gallery owners
to identify which wall scrolls which. When you order custom calligraphy from us the title if you’re calligraphy and
order number is written there in pencil. Now some strips of adhesive are added
to these flaps for the roller. Special care is taken here as the roller
must be perfectly straight. As usual the seam is hidden with
some key line tape. The wall scroll is almost done.
Just missing one element. That of course is the ribbon.
This is what you’re going to use to hang on your wall scroll in your home, office, or dojo. We use nail in brass eyelets. Measuring to make sure the eyelets are the same distance apart for symmetry. Using an ample amount of ribbon fed through
the eyelets and tied off here. And a final knot in the middle that will have two tales protruding.
Some people like to let those tales lay flat in front of the top silk panel. Others like to hide them
behind the wall scroll. Now here’s the wall scroll
ready to roll up and ship.

10 thoughts on “Wall Scroll Making

  1. this be so awezom and the guys making it be really professionals, you can see how easy make everthing. But i have a question, why so scrolls i as see be green around the inscription than white?

  2. Gary, Thanks for showing us the craftsmanship that goes into your scrolls.  I first discovered your site about a year or two ago thanks to this videos predecessor. 

  3. Really cool to watch the process Gary… It makes the scrolls we receive all that much more personal and gives me at least more of a feeling that I have a really custom piece of artwork.  Great stuff!!  

  4. No kidding about them lasting ten years or more.  I bought mine from you in 2004 and it still looks great and it has been hanging almost without break for the last ten years!

  5. Uuhhh… scary… laying the iron-ruler with the edge onto the art work … delicate xuan paper… phew… lucky this time..

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