Monday, May 23, 2011

Japanese Papermaking

This year, I was very fortunate to receive a grant from the Ontario Arts Council to take a four day papermaking workshop at Kozo Studio taught by Akemi.

Before this workshop, I never knew there was a difference between Japanese style papermaking vs. Western style papermaking. Except for the mold and deckle, I thought the techniques involved are the same.

After Akemi saw my light sculptures,
she recommended I take her Japanese style papermaking workshop. Japanese style papermaking are made from harvesting plant fibers (we used kozo fibers), resulting in a thin, strong, and translucent paper much more suitable for my sculptures.

Here's a brief overview of my four day intensive workshop. All photos are courtesy of Kozo Studio.

After cooking kozo fibers in a soda ash solution for several hours, the fibers are rinsed and cleaned.

Bark is picked out by hand, the fibers are hand beaten with a wooden stick.

After hand beating the kozo fibers, we ran it through a machine called the Nagintat beater for a few minutes to "comb" the fibers.

Cover off showing the blades of the Nagintat beater. Very different from the Hollander beater.

First try at papermaking with a tiny mold and su.

Carefully removing the su from the freshly made paper.

This time with a larger mold and su. The su is actually a bamboo place mat with a sheet of window netting sewn on top of it.

The su is remove from the mold and brought over to the couching table.

Slowly removing the su from the freshly made paper.

After pressing all the water out with a car jack, the sheet of paper easily peels away from the cloth.

The paper is brushed onto drying board to dry overnight.

In Japan, fibers are harvested from kozo, mitsumata, and gampi trees. Since these trees are not native in Canada, I'm going to experiment and harvest fibers from trees found within by backyard. So far I've made paper with forsythia and hollyhock. Currently my husband just chopped down our garden hedges and a few maple trees...I can't wait to see how these fibers will turn out (or if it's even possible)!

UPDATE: I've since created functional art light sculptures with maple leaves, apple tree leaves and milkweed which are available at my shop.

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