"...Japanese paper gives us a certain feeling of warmth, of calm and repose...Western paper turns away the light, while our paper seems to take it in, to envelop it gently, like the soft surface of a first snowfall. It gives off no sound when it is crumpled or folded, it is quiet and pliant to the touch as the leaf of a tree..." Junichiro Tanizaki - In Praise of Shadows
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.
Photography by www.Yeshen.co.uk