Anne Mckenzie Botanic Calligraphic Art


Why I love Japanese Paper

An explanation of the different papers that I have worked with.



Most of the paper I use is made from the unbleached fibres of Kozo bark.  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 mm thin 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.



Dry Brush on Seichosen Paper

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.

Seichosen paper showing layered brushtrokes and detailed painting

2 sheets of Hansarashi Kozo in front of a piece of Seichosen paper

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

Hosokawa Paper showing fibres

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

Yuumashi Paper showing sharp and flowing calligraphic lines

This piece of Kozo Shi was made by Elaine Cooper in Bristol.  Elaine has learned traditional papermaking in Japan.

Washi Artist Elaine Cooper made this Kozo Shi Paper