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There are several reasons for backing the papers-when the paper is too thin to be folded and needs to be strengthened; when increasing the thickness of paper to match the paper size for making a large piece of work. You can also combine different colors for the front and back side of paper depending on the work, such as black and white for a penguin. However, the primary purpose of backing is for the keeping of the shape.
When a backed paper (or thick Western paper) is moistened and folded and fine adjustments are made to complete the shape, after the paper dries, its shape become fixed and will last a long time for display. While moist it is possible to express detailed and delicate structural component of the work, such as rounded surfaces and curved lines.
In the pictures, paper dyed with "paper mulberry" (an Asian plant used to make paper) is backed with a sheet of "paper mulberry" paper, with their grains crossed. Generally, moistened paper stretches in horizontal direction (especially for western papers), so this will minimize the skewness. With paper with little stretch, such as premium hand-strained Japanese papers and pool-strained Japanese papers, the grains may be set in the same direction depending on the purpose.
(Caption for 1) Glue used in backing is made by boiling gluten, adding some aged old glue and heating. After it cools, strain the glue and smooth it with a glue brush. To do it properly, this should be done in a glue basin made of Japanese cypress utilizing its wood grain.
(Caption for 2-4) Moisten the paper using mister or a towel. If the edge of the Japanese paper is thickened, it must be scraped, and any dust or unwanted fiber must be removed. It is highly technical work, but it must be done to make the thickness of the paper even.
(Caption for 5) In most cases, the glue is applied on the back paper with a glue brush. (The paper in the picture is an exception in that the front paper has more tension strength so the glue is being applied to the front paper.) Generally, the glue is applied evenly along the grain of the paper. There are many different methods depending on the paper.
(Caption for 6) Place the front paper (the back paper is being used in the picture) on top and press together using the brush stroke to push out the air bubble.
(Caption for 8) Place a thick paper on top and press in the shape of "*", then stroke evenly so that paper are well cohered.
(Caption for 9) Apply glue on the edge of the paper to affix it to a board. Place a tab on one spot to make it easy to peel.
(Caption for 10) Stand the board upright and let the paper dry. If you do not glue the paper to the board, it will be wrinkled. When dry, peel it from the tab (upper right) and cut the paper for finish.
Translation by Robert Tsuchida; many thanks to Joel Stern for providing it.
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