Back in October 2019, Hiromi made a trip to the papermaking village of San Pablito in Puebla, Mexico to visit the Amate Paper makers. The village is situated on a mountainside, a five hour drive away from Mexico City. There, Efrain Daza and his family produce Amate paper using methods passed down from precolonial times.
Amate paper is an ancient bark paper first produced by the Aztec and Mayan civilizations. Amate was used in these societies for codices and ceremonial cut-outs. Amate paper was threatened with extinction in the mid-1800’s. Efrain’s family, belonging to the Otomi people, have been producing paper for three generations.
Amate paper is made with bark from the Jonote tree, which is first soaked or boiled, and then worked by hand. The intensity of the original dark brown fibers comes from the natural color of the harvested bark. Subtle changes lead to subtle changes in color between each batch. Bleaching and dying are employed to produce papers in a range of colors suitable for painting and drawing, in addition to decorative uses.
While lighter solid color papers provide a stable surface for painters and artisans to build color and image upon, a range of papers use negative space to create subtle patterns that contrast uniform repetition with the natural contours of the raw materials.