how to wet mount (using rice paste)

What is rice paste?

Also known as sokui, rice paste is an environmentally friendly Japanese starch glue. Its main ingredients are rice starch and water. It is non-toxic and acid free. When applied, sokui dries clear in about an hour. However, it will slightly yellow over a long period of time. 

Although this instruction sheet specifically focuses on making paste from rice starch, other starch paste options include tapioca starch paste (yamato paste), corn starch paste (nori paste), wheat paste, bracken paste (made from bracken root), and bran paste (derived from seaweed).

Sokui is commonly used in Japanese book binding because it works well with thin and delicate papers. We will be using it for adhering photographs to other surfaces, such as walls for exhibitions.

You can buy tubes of pre-mixed paste, or you can easily make yourself at home using either sticky rice, or rice starch. Below, you will find instructions for both methods as well as an instruction sheet on how to mount photographs to the wall using your sokui (rice paste).

What You’ll Need

Rice Paste (using sticky/sushi rice)

  • 1/4 cup of sticky/sushi rice
  • 3/4 cup of water
  • Pot with a lid
  • Stove
  • Fork (for mixing)

Rice Paste (using rice starch)

  • Rice Starch (you can purchase this from Wyndham)
  • Water (instructions called for distilled but tap water worked for me)
  • Stove and double boiler OR microwave and bowl
  • Fork (for mixing)
  • Paint brush

Directions for Mixing (using sticky rice)

start video at 0:56

Directions for Mixing (for rice starch)

  • Place 3 tablespoons of rice starch powder into 1 cup of boiling water
  • Stir briskly with wire whisk until smooth. If there are lumps left, pour hot mixture through strainer and discard the lumps
  • Cool before using – the paste will thicken as it cools

The recipe will produce a paste that is about the consistency of heavy cream or yogurt. For thicker paste, use 4 tablespoons of rice starch; for thinner paste, use 2 tablespoons.

These directions are sourced from McClain’s Printmaking Supplies.

Applying the Paste

Once you have your rice paste, here is an instruction sheet on how to attach and remove your print from the wall by Sean Caulfield from the University of Alberta.