Washi paper: Japanese handcraft
March 22, 2011 § 2 Comments
In Fukui prefecture of Japan, where I have lived for almost two years now, there is a paper village called Echizen. In Echizen paper village, there are many artisans who make the various kinds of traditional Japanese paper called washi. I have gone there many times since I first came to Japan to make paper and also to learn how to use the paper to make other things, last class we learned how to make books!
Washi is a great product, as it uses fewer chemicals than other methods of paper making, but in order to prevent bacteria from decomposing the paper fibers, it is usually done with very cold water. Traditionally it was a way for farmers to make money during the winter time. The most common plant fiber used is Kozo. This plant grows very quickly and can be harvested annually. After being processed and some colour added, this is what the fiber looks like:
Then, to make the paper, the pulp is mixed with water and usually neri (a kind of binding agent from tororo plant). The mix is poured out onto a screen. To even out the paper, the screen is usually shaken. Then it is air or sun dried.
Above is a picture of two pieces of mine drying in the spring sunshine.
In Fukui Prefecture, the Echizen Paper Village is well known for it`s washi making. Many artisans live there and make paper year-round.
My friend, Rina, has been working there since 2000. She does washi classes and tries to promote washi paper making in Japan and internationally. This is her website: http://www.echizenwashi.jp/english/index.php. To the right is a picture of her with her sensei. He likes to visit her classes and make sure things are going well. Her site has information on classes in the area, and local artisans. I hope to participate in at least one more washi class before I leave this summer.