Anne Mckenzie Botanic Calligraphy

Mitsumata paper

Japanese Paper


The handmade paper that I use is made from the unbleached fibres of Mitsumata and Kozo.  Mitsumata has shorter fibres is smooth and dense and has a natural colour and responsiveness to light that I adore.  Kozo or Mulberry has been grown for making paper and fabric.  I think that the paper is something between paper and cloth, it is light, strong, translucent and is said to last for hundreds of years.  The paper is usually named for the region of origin. 


The fibres are cooked in lime, soda ash or wood ash to smooth the edges and to neutralise the ph.  Paper makers dip screened, meshed or finely stratted bamboo frames - the su (which is in itself a work of art woven from extrememly thinly cut bamboo) - into a mixture of pure water, kozo fibres and forming medium made from hibiscus root ( tororo-aoi) or hydrangea extract (noriusugi).  The su is lifted and moved  horizontally from side to side, up and down to filter out the excess water.  This process is repeated multiple times to create layers of fibres. When enough layers of now meshed fibres are created the washi is layed carefully on boards and dried  in the sun.  Paper made in this way is known as 'Heritage Washi' owing to the 1400 year old practice and the specialist skills of paper making families.


Mitsumata paper, pigment paint

Historic Mitsumata made by the grandparents of Kashikieshi Paper in Kochi

Seichosen Paper (Kozo), acrylic paint

Seichosen is unsized and is very absorbent giving colour a beautiful glowing dimensionality.  The paper has a slight texture of wood from the drying boards.  These papers have been produced by three generations of one family in Kochi.

Hosokawa Heritage Paper, acrylic paint

Hosokawa  has been designated as a UNESCO Intangible Cultural Traditional Property.  It is dried on stainless steel, is highly absorbant and is very strong.

Yuumashi Paper, pigment paint

Yuumashi is a fairly thick paper made from Kozo and Hemp.  It is full of character and absorbs colour while maintaining sharp lines.  

Pigments, Leaves and Red Acer Banner on Mitsumata Paper

I am curious about pigments and intend to expand my knowledge through using them as much as possible.  The picture above shows how true to life the colours are.   I like the earthy associations which fit very well with the botanic subjects and the organic nature of the papers.

Photography by