This Japanese print on traditional washi paper is attributed to Utagawa Kunisada (1786-1865). In his own time, Kunisada’s renown surpassed that of his peers Hiroshige and Hokusai.
The print shows some mottling and water damage at the bottom, and the inks and pigments have faded. Frame design for this piece required a sensitivity to these matters: an ornate frame, or one that simply looked too new, would create a visual dissonance and distract the eye from the piece’s muted palette.
In order to quiet the shine of the silver bevel on the double-mat, we created several distress marks that gently echo the brushwork of the tree limbs. We also toned the silver with a black pigment. The silk mat also looked too new when on the art, so it was removed and given a wash of thinned shellac before being placed back under the UV protective glass.
The frame itself was made using Cambia Maple: regular eastern maple slowly baked by the lumber processor at nearly 300 degrees. This method changes the structure of the wood, stabilizing the cell walls, making them resistant to moisture, and caramelizing the latent sugars. The result is a wood color somewhere between cherry and walnut: it has superior durability and a beautifully aged appearance. The interior of the frame was sealed with aluminum tape to create a protective barrier – preventing the frame itself from causing any further discoloration of the work.
The rounded corners and the diagonal slots for the cross-miter cap splines were cut by hand using a traditional Japanese dozuki pull saw and a set of three chisels made specially for Linden and Leaf by blacksmith, Chutaro Imai, in Niigata, Japan. We routinely use these tools, but it seemed especially appropriate to put them to work on this project.