Restoration of Paul Jacoulet Prints

Restoration of Paul Jacoulet Prints
March 15, 2013 Robyn Buntin of Honolulu

Conservator Frankie Saucedo has become an expert in handling Paul Jacoulet prints due to the high demand of restoration work on these difficult and fragile woodblock prints.  Mica, bronze, gold, ground pearl, embossing, and numerous colors make this type of print especially challenging if not impossible for conservators without specialized training.  Luckily, Frankie’s experiences at the Honolulu Museum of Art as well as working on Jacoulets from private collections has earned him a level of expertise that is hard to find.  Take a look at these dramatic Before-and-After photos to see what’s possible!
Curious about Paul Jacoulet? Click here to see more of his works
Do you have one that you’d like restored? Call us at 808.523.5913 or Email us at

Acid-burned and foxed with mold


De-acidified, foxing removed, and paper reconditioned to restore suppleness.  The mica blue background and subtle colors remained intact.

There are several things to keep in mind if you’ve got a Paul Jacoulet (or other woodblock prints) to restore:

  • Do you know that Jacoulets are some of the most sophisticated woodblock prints ever produced?  Some prints took up to 300 individual impressions of nearly 60 blocks, carved on both sides to create!
  • Conservation and restoration is best handled as soon as possible.  If you notice mold spots (foxing) appearing on your artwork, have it treated immediately.  It will not only save your artwork, it’ll save your wallet from a bigger bill if left untreated.
    A recent analogy that we liked was this: leaving foxing untreated is like leaving bird poop on your car 
  • conservation is limited to the base materials.  Jacoulet used wonderful paper but even this type has its limits.  Get it treated before it gets to the “potato chip” stage.  Acid is what turns paper brown and brittle.  When it gets so brittle that it feels like a potato chip, the extent of restoration can be limited since the paper itself can’t handle much treatment.
  • A funny story told to me by the late and great Richard (Gerry) Miles who wrote the book, “The Prints of Paul Jacoulet”: Paul’s prints were produced during some of the hardest times in Japanese daily life [post-WWII] when essentials such as rice and clothing were precious.  Even then, Jacoulet was such a perfectionist that if the paper had an imperfection in it, he would use it as a liner in his chicken coops!
  • If your artwork was framed in Japan or other parts of Asia, take a closer look because that’s a red flag!  Asian framers have been slow to adopt acid-free and archival standards of handling artwork.  Even some of the best framers continue to use plywood and cardboard behind artwork which leads to a not-so-slow acid death.  Getting your Japanese frame refitted with acid-free materials is very economical, fast, and will save you a lot of headaches in the future!
  • Margins matter – Jacoulet prints and most other Japanese prints are valued based on rarity, condition, and size (among other factors).  Having margins which have not been cut, folded or stained can seriously affect the value of your artwork.
  • Prevent fading by using ultra-violet filtering Plexiglas or museum glass.  The value of Paul Jacoulet prints and other woodblocks can be severely diminished if it’s been faded.  We prefer the UV Plexiglas in clear or non-glare since it is lighter than glass and will not shatter in the same way that glass does.  Also, if you’re a traveler or someone who tends to move around a lot, the Plexiglas will allow for safer transport and peace of mind.  Plexi has come a long way and looks beautiful.  Stop by our framing department to check it out.
  • Colors tend to appear brighter after conservation and restoration because the yellow/brown acid color has been removed.  Observe the brighter blue and red in the Jacoulet print below.

Have questions about your Paul Jacoulet print or other artwork that needs restoration?  Email us or call us at 808.523.5913 and we’d be happy to chat with you!