Joint 44th AIC Annual Meeting and 42nd CAC-ACCR Annual Conference–Workshops, Saturday May 14, 2016, "Identification of East Asian Papers for Conservation" by Nancy Jacobi and Megumi Mizumura

When I saw the “Identification of East Asian Paper for Conservation” workshop, I began to review what I knew about the subject and decided I could benefit from further education on the matter. I signed up for the workshop hoping to become more confident in my understanding of East Asian papers and I was not disappointed. Besides, what is more exciting than dedicating three hours to talking about paper?

Paper sampler given to workshop participants.
Paper sampler given to workshop participants.

The aim of this workshop was to help participants recognize the characteristics that denote paper quality to aid them in selecting good quality East Asian papers that meet conservation standards.

Megumi Mizumura, a paper conservator at The British Museum, presented first. In addition to providing historical context for Japanese, Chinese, and Korean papermaking, she went into great detail about the Japanese papermaking process. Mizumura’s presentation illustrated how different steps of the papermaking process may affect paper quality.

Slide from Mizumura's presentation: 'Various Alkalies for Cooking Kozo.'
Slide from Mizumura’s presentation: ‘Various Alkalies for Cooking Kozo.’

 She revealed that some papers thought to be of good quality by conservators may actually be poor quality due to changes in fiber furnish and manufacturing processes. The fiber furnish may be a blend of low grade, cheap kozo from Thailand, wood pulp, or other plant fibers. (Thai kozo is the lowest grade kozo because it grows quickly causing the fibers to be less flexible and contain oils that are difficult to remove during the cooking process.) Aggressive chemical steps to quickly cook fibers and bleach pulp are also detrimental to papers, decreasing stability of the fibers after aging. Mizumura highlighted some important details for conservators to be cognizant of when selecting papers:

  • the source of the kozo fiber–Japan, China, Thailand, or Paraguay
  • preparation of the fibers–the degree of detail used to separate bark layers when preparing the fibers, hand-beaten or machine-beaten
  • alkaline cooking processes used to prepare the fibers–wood ash, slaked lime, soda ash, or caustic soda
  • bleaching processes–no bleaching, natural bleaching with sunlight, or chemical bleaching with chlorine based bleaches or hydrogen peroxide
  • method of manufacture–handmade or machine made
  • drying methods–wooden boards, stainless steel plates, or metal rollers
  • Possible additives–sizing, fillers, dyes

Mizumura’s presentation provided conservators with a foundation for making better informed selections of papers for treatment.

Slide from Mizumura's presentation: 'Factors to Consider When Choosing Japanese Paper.'
Slide from Mizumura’s presentation: ‘Factors to Consider When Choosing Japanese Paper.’

Nancy Jacobi, head of The Japanese Paper Place (, followed Mizumura’s presentation expanding upon Japanese papermaking. She emphasized the beauty of a well made sheet of paper and the endangered nature of the papermaking profession in Japan. Jacobi then discussed the introduction of East Asian papers to the West and their uses by artists and, later, conservators. She shared two recurring degradation issues observed during her work at Cape Dorset, Canada in identifying Japanese papers used for relief prints by the Inuit since the 1950s. Jacobi noted oil stains in the supports caused by oils leaching out of the fibers which is characteristic of Thai kozo. She also observed pervasive, small foxing spots in papers caused by the use of uncoated metal dryers to quickly dry finished sheets of paper. Jacobi’s observations reiterated the dangers of not knowing materials, and manufacturing processes of East Asian papers used for conservation. The changes in paper quality may be a reflection of the pressure on the dwindling number of papermakers to meet high demands for East Asian papers. Takao Moriki, third generation president of the Moriki Paper Company (, was also present and supported the workshop material with knowledge of the subject gained from personal experience and research of these materials.
Paper Identification Exercise

During the hands-on portion of the workshop, we put our knowledge of East Asian papers and observation skills to the test. Using the sample books received for the workshop, we examined several samples at a time. Jacobi prompted our observations with questions requiring us to differentiate between some of the following characteristics:

  • quality
  • fiber furnishes
  • fiber preparation
  • cooking or bleaching processes used 
  • drying methods used
  • handmade or machine made papers
  • additives

Once we had done our best to distinguish the various characteristics of our samples, we checked our answers against the key provided. The answer key contained a detailed break down of the papers listing the name, the region it was from, fiber furnish with fiber origin and percentages for fiber blends, machine made or handmade, fiber preparation, cooking process, bleaching, drying methods, additives, weight, and original sheet dimensions. The workshop organizers also brought their study collection with many other samples of East Asian papers for us to examine in addition to those in our sample books. Additionally, discussions related to experiences in using East Asian papers were cultivated amongst workshop participants.
Below are images of some of the papers in our sample books that I find really interesting.

5-A Kurotani #4 from Kyoto: handmade, japanese kozo, soda ash cooking, no bleaching, dried on stainless steel sheet. 5-B Okawara from EhimeL handmade, Thai kozo, caustic soda cooking, chlorine bleaching, dried on stainless steel sheets.
5-A Kurotani #4 from Kyoto handmade with Japanese kozo, not bleached
5-B Okawara from Ehime handmade with Thai kozo, bleached

8-C Kaji Natural from Ehime: Hand made, thai kozo 90% and wood pulp 10%, caustic soda cooking, chlorine bleaching, direct synthetic dye, and stainless steel sheet drying. 8-D Matsuo Kozo from Fukuoka: handmade, japanese kozo, caustic soda cooking, chlorine bleaching, direct synthetic dye, and stainless steel sheet drying.
8-C Kaji Natural from Ehime handmade with blended fibers and synthetic dye
8-D Matsuo Kozo from Fukuoka handmade with kozo and synthetic dye

3-A Sekishu Mare from Shimane (UNESCO grade): handmade, Japanese kozo, hand beaten, soda ash cooking, no bleaching, dried on wooden boards. 11-C Xuan paper made at Red Star--tan tree and rice straw fiber, grade is special bark made, Mian Lian (thinnest paper thickness) used for caligraphy 11-A Hanji made in Korea with kozo fibers
3-A Sekishu Mare from Shimane (UNESCO grade) handmade with japanese kozo fibers
11-C Xuan paper made at Red Star with tan tree and rice straw fiber
11-A Hanji made in Korea with kozo fibers


This workshop raises awareness for the necessity of thoroughly understanding the materials used for conservation treatments. The hands-on exercise was a good challenge and essential for learning the characteristics that mark good quality paper. The workshop provided a good foundation and clear direction for conservators to work towards mastering the identification of East Asian papers.
The information I learned through this workshop will be very useful for guiding my decisions when selecting papers in the future. I truly appreciated the organizers’ passion for East Asian papers. It was a pleasure to peruse the additional samples in the study collection while talking about paper with all workshop participants.

44th Annual Meeting: Photographic Materials Session, May 16, "When Inkjet Prints Get Wet: First Contact to Weeklong Submersion," by Daniel Burge

As an emerging paper conservator, I was eager to attend Daniel Burge’s talk, “When Inkjet Prints Get Wet: First Contact to Weeklong Submersion.” I wanted to expand my understanding of this type of print that seems to be so fragile and difficult to preserve. Is there any hope for these objects after a water emergency?
The aim of Burge’s research was to critically assess the damaging effects of water on modern inkjet prints to develop disaster response protocols that maximize emergency response and recovery efforts of a damaged collection. Many types of inkjet prints were immersed in water for increasing increments of time: 1 second, 10 minutes, 1 hour, 8 hours, 24 hours, 48 hours, and 7 days. Damage to the colorants, paper coatings, and paper supports were recorded. The majority of inkjet prints proved to be damaged after one second of immersion. Some inkjet prints remained fairly stable during extended periods of immersion. This allows an emergency response timeline to be made focusing rescue efforts on saving prints that have some stability when exposed to water.

Title slide of Burge’s presentation showing examples of damage to inkjet prints after submersion in water.

Burge’s research also revealed that pigment colorants were generally more stable than dye colorants; and prints made on polymer or uncoated fine art papers were the most susceptible to damage. However, some anomalies of the statement above were observed. Burge explained that stability is not only related to the materials incorporated in the inkjet prints but that it is also linked to the relationship between the colorant and the coating as well as the relationship between the coating and the support.
In conclusion, Burge stressed the following points:

  • Priorities may be assigned to a collection based on a thorough understanding of the colorants, coatings, and supports of inkjet prints coupled with the results of this research guiding emergency response efforts during a water incident.
  • Good housing and storage methods may help to reduce potential water damage.


Slide from Burge's presentation: Anatomy of a Water Damaged Print.
Slide from Burge’s presentation: Anatomy of a Water Damaged Print.

Several people added to the presentation through their questions and comments. All agreed that IRIS prints are incredibly sensitive to moisture. A question was asked, raising the ethics of printing a new inkjet print from a file to replace a damaged print. Burge replied that even though this is possible, there is a unique relationship between the artist and the original, damaged print. We should be considerate of the significance of the original before making a reprinted version. I felt that I had gained a better understanding of the issues surrounding the inkjet print’s sensitivities to water that would allow me to better care for a collection. I greatly admired Burge’s enthusiasm and authority in this subject matter as well as his poise as a speaker.
An overview of Burge’s project and helpful information may be found on the home page of the Image Permanence Institute’s DP3 Digital Print Preservation Portal under the ‘Flood’ tab: