Friday, June 22, 2007

Japanese Paper

Japanese paper comes in a variety of forms, the most typical being chiyogami (yuzen) and katazome.

Yuzen paper is made through a silk screening process and uses more colors. These are some typical examples.

I really like this one. Had I seen it in Japan I definitely would have had to have it.

If I decide I really have to have it, I can buy it at an outrageously marked-up price here.

The paper-making and printing process is incredibly labor intensive.

Yuzen also comes in a distinctive red and black laquered paper.

Here's a pattern I am very fond of. I didn't buy a sheet of it when I had the chance because it smelled terrible - a very strong paint odor. I didn't want the rest of my paper to smell like it. Later I found a box covered with the paper that didn't stink so that's what I brought home.

This Japanese site is an excellent place to buy yuzen online. The prices are the best I've seen. $6 for a 38 x 25 inch sheet. Other online retailers of yuzen charge double or even triple that for a sheet half that size. Shipping costs about $11 for 7-28 day airmail. Jun-gifts also sells souvenirs (postcards, geta, keychains, etc) at really reasonable prices.

While shopping for paper in Japan I quickly realized there was a particular style of paper I liked the most - katazome. The style can easily be recognized by the woodblock-like patterns printed in colors of persimmon, brown, navy, and olive on a creamy white background.

Katazome paper is made in a complicated process using paint applied through stencils. The technique is very similar to batik and has customarily been used to make fabric for kimonos and noren. Instead of using wax to block off places where the dye isn't wanted, katazome makers use a sticky paste made of rice flour. It's spread on the fabric or plain paper over a stencil and allowed to dry or cure. Dye or paint can then be applied and after it has set, the rice paste can be washed off.

I couldn't buy enough of this stuff!

So what can I make with all of this paper?

It's possible to make beads out of paper... but I don't have the know-how to do that - yet. I really like what this artist (Anna Sofia Designs) has done with the paper. I really like that the bracelets are double sided so when you get tired of one side you can turn it over and wear the other side too. I've spent the last few days trying to figure out how I could achieve this look by an easier process.

I love to have interesting switch plates and electrical outlet plates in my house.

Until I saw these, I hadn't thought about using the paper to cover switch plates, but I think it's a fabulous idea. I could easily see a couple of downtown boutiques selling these things!

And of course, there's always the katazome paper covered box. I've made boxes before but always used my own paper to cover them. Before going off to graduate school I made paper out of junk mail and used some of the paper to cover boxes that I also made.

I've thought about making some more boxes, covering them with the katazome, and selling them if I can figure out some short-cut techniques to box making. The way I do it is way too labor intensive to justify selling it at a price people would actually pay.

If I decide to make boxes, the first design I'll try is this one that I saw in a craft store in a Kyoto mall.


Alasdair said...

Man, the possibilities are endless! I would love to see some of the paper you brought back turn into some snazzy things around the house. Plus, I think I have some that I brought back previously. It is hanging around somewhere... I would totally buy your stuff :)

Angela Breidenbach said...

Not only is it beautiful, but I had no idea of the value. Kenshin brought us several types. We are going to learn to make some origami cranes. Because of the significance of cranes meaning peace in Japan, we are going to approach the school he goes to now and see if he can teach the kids to make the cranes. Then we want to send 1,000 cranes to the children of Japan. The number is important to the peace story the children learn because of the Atomic Bomb and the fallout effect still going on 3 generations later. We want to find out if our school will join us in sending the sign of peace and love to the children of Japan. I hope it works out.

Field Notes said...

It takes a lot of time to fold that many cranes, talk about a meditative act! Good luck with that :D at least cranes are eeeeeasy!