Dry Mounting Chinese Brush Paintings

Clearly, many people find traditional wet mounting unappealing. In the past we have heard of some bad experiences with framers trying to dry-mount Chinese paintings, as they don’t understand how the paper behaves. Encouragingly, there now seem to be some practical alternatives.

A query emailed to our website about silicone release paper generated some good information – thanks to all teachers who contributed.

The links here were found by searching the internet, so I do not claim they are the best or definitive.

Note that the longevity of these processes is not known, and over time there may be deterioration or colour change. One of the photographic sites I found mentioned the disadvantages of dry mounting:

  • Dry mounting is not a reversible process. This means if at any stage your artwork is damaged and requires restoration, it is extremely difficult for conservators to remove it from its backing and carry out treatment.
  • At some point, all dry mounted artworks will probably begin to delaminate and bubble. If stored in a stable, dry environment at room temperature, it may be 10-20 years before evidence of this begins to emerge. However, if stored in a humid environment with fluctuating temperatures, these negative effects may begin to occur after just 2-5 years.
  • The glue film may eventually deteriorate, causing staining and general discolouration

 Silicone Release Paper

Judy M: I’ve been using something similar which you iron on, it’s very good. It’s dry mount from Framers equipment or Hot press or Dry Tac, I get mine from Framers. All on line.


NOTE: The release paper used in the videos is single-sided. Double-sided release paper is available, but would leave the supporting paper between the painting and the backing. So make sure you buy the type you want.

Here are demonstrations of using silicone release paper by Henry Li: onto xuan, & onto other paper.

Freezer Paper

Joan N: I have tried using freezer paper, which is probably fairly similar [to silicone release paper]. I have had limited success in with this but need to practice and experiment more as I think it is my technique rather than the intended method.

NOTE: Freezer paper seems to be designed for use with fabric applique.

Sources for freezer Paper:

Glue stick

Colleen K:

  • I have been mounting silk onto rice paper with a glue stick for some time as I had bubbles and creases with wallpaper paste. If you apply the glue stick evenly to the backing paper, then put the silk on with a bone folder to smooth it, lastly iron the back, it will come out very well. The iron melts the glue stick so it spreads evenly. This is very good for book covers as PVA glue might show through fabric covers.
  • The glue stick I used was a BIC but have used others for making cards – to stick small paintings on to hand made cards – Pritt stick, any brand but not the blue coloured ones.  Note that the glue is likely to degrade, to this technique is not suitable for your best paintings.
  • The iron is moderately hot, so it won’t burn the silk.
  • This technique is good for cards.
  • I have now started this technique with paper paintings but so far just small unimportant ones. I have trouble mounting brown grass paper paintings as the paper is so fragile, so may try this glue stick method for them too.
  • Also I have used pelmet vilene, which you iron on to curtains. This stiffens fabric for book covers, instead of using cardboard.