'One-point' Lessons

Lesson #4: Rice Paste recipe ...

(contributed by Matt Brown)

It took me months of trial and error to work out for myself a workable paste recipe. I had Toshi Yoshida's directions from 'Japanese Print-making' to go on. He had me letting my rice soak several days, grinding my rice in a mortar and pestle, straining it with cheesecloth . . . it wasn't long before I realized if I was going to make this print-making work for me I would have to simplify this paste part, and find my own way. The following recipe is one which works better for me than anything I had been able to make using Mr. Yoshida's approach (it seemed to make a great difference, for instance, what kind of rice I used). It differs significantly from Walter Phillips' approach in that Phillips brought his paste to a boil, something Yoshida advised against, pointing out that if boiled after time it will go runny (something I have found to be true).

Start with bookmaker's rice starch (made by Lineco), available from Kremer Pigments (www.kremer-pigmente.de/). Note: though their web-site is fascinating, full of stories of Dr. Kremer finding rare pigments, etc. I couldn't find the rice starch listed. Call 800-995-5501 for their catalogue.

Using a heavy saucepan, mix a proportion of approximately 1:8 rice starch to water. I generally do batches of 1 tbspn starch to 2/3 cup water.

Stir continuously over a low heat, until mixture begins to thicken and turn somewhat translucent. Remove from heat (this is just a little bit before it begins to boil), keep stirring as it cools (set pan in cold water to hasten cooling).

It takes about five minutes to make a batch. It actually does take practice to get a feel for exactly when to remove it from the heat. Kept in the refrigerator paste will remain good about three days, but I generally make a fresh batch each day.