Rembrandt’s Etchings and Echizen Paper

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Sugihara-san and Fukui paper makers attended the opening of the much anticipated exhibition: Rembrandt’s Etchings and Japanese Echizen paper at the Rembrandt House Museum!

The exhibition will be open to the public until September 20th, 2015.

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The Rembrandt House which once was his home is now a historical monument and museum, commemorating Rembrandt’s life and work located in Amsterdam. He lived and worked in this house from 1639 to 1658. Although the interior has been reconstructed since then, the overall architecture remains the same as it was in his time.

IMG_3889 Continue reading “Rembrandt’s Etchings and Echizen Paper”

Japanese papermaking as UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage

On November 27th, UNESCO officially registered “Washi: handmade Japanese papermaking and techniques” into the ‘Intangible Cultural Heritage’. The specific types of washi that were recognized were: Sekishu Banshi (Shimane prefecture), Hon Mino-shi (Gifu) and Hosokawa-shi (Saitama).

376399_266922766747850_539337155_n(Original Japanese article can be found here)

What is significant about these three types of washi?

1) Made with 100% kozo

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Japanese papers (washi) are primarily made using kozo, gampi or mitsumata fibers. Other materials such as wood pulp and hemp are used, to create different textures of washi. The three papers that were chosen for UNESCO only use kozo, which has longer fibers, which creates a beautiful and strong paper.

2) Using only domestic materials

Nowadays, many papermakers rely on foreign-grown kozo (Philippines, Thailand, China, etc) because of the availability and low cost. Though these foreign-grown kozo fibers are similar to those grown domestically, there are issues of them leaving flecks of oils within the finished paper; lowering the overall quality of the papers.

Sekishu uses kozo grown locally, Hon-Mino-shi uses the highest quality Nasu kozo and Hosokawa-shi uses local or Kochi kozo.

The continuing decrease of kozo farmers is another existing concern. They can be cultivated, but the return of income is so much lower compared to other industries. There have been efforts to cultivate Japanese kozo on foreign land using planting stock, but the quality of course will not be the same.

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3) Whitens over time

Usually, chemical additives are used in papermaking to bleach the fibers to create a whiter paper. However, the three selected regions do not add any chemicals during their process, which makes the paper become whiter and whiter over time.

Papers that have been chlorine bleached are a pure bright white color in the beginning, but after being exposed to sunlight over time, the ultra-violet rays turn the papers yellow.

4) Water

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The quality of water is also an important element in papermaking. The kozo fibers are usually immersed in water to wash away dirt and impurities, or “chiri”. This is why all papermaking regions have close access to natural water.

5) Nagashizuki method

The three selected regions all use the traditional Japanese papermaking method of nagashizuki. Contrary to the tamezuki method where the water is simply drained from the papermaking screen, nagashizuki is done by moving the mold, creating a weave of fibers.

6) Wet strength

It is said that handmade papers are much stronger to water compared to machinemade papers. Papers that have been carefully dried in the sun are especially resistant to falling apart in water.

It is fantastic news that washi and the techniques have been recognized internationally by UNESCO, and would hope that Japanese papermaking and related industries will attract more attention from this.

Artist Feature: Jalal Poehlman of Poehlman Press

Poehlman Press
Phone: 213.344.9692

I had the pleasure of visiting Poehlman Press, a fine-art printing studio in Downtown Los Angeles. Jalal Poehlman, artist and founder of Poehlman Press, works closely with each individual for every printing job. His clientele ranges from artists around the world, galleries, photographers, exclusive hotels, casinos, and more, many of which continuously come back for multiple projects. Some of his favorite projects include photographer Hannah Collins for the Ford Foundation and John Baldessari in 2002. Jalal showed me around his printing studio and a few of his wonderful prints. He also shared some insight on printing with paper and profiles. This led into a collaboration project we are working on with Jalal to print on washi for people to see at our retail location. Here is a little Q&A with Jalal Poehlman on printing:

How did you get into the profession of printing?

As an art student in the 90s, I became interested in ways to output digitally created artwork. After reading Walter Benjamin’s 1936 essay, “The Work of Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproducibility”, I became fascinated by the potential of reaching a larger and more diverse audience through digital and mechanical reproduction. At that time, there was only one type of printer that came close to producing similar image quality of a traditionally exposed color photograph. That printer was the venerable IRIS inkjet printer, which had the unique advantage of the ability to make those prints on a large variety of art papers, including washi. Very few people had done the engineering necessary to convert these $126,000 complex and finicky pre-press proofing systems to produce fine art. One of those pioneers is a man named Jack Duganne who is the owner and master print maker at Duganne Ateliers in Santa Monica. After leaving graduate school and landing in Los Angeles I asked around about who was doing the best digital printmaking in Los Angeles and I was told a number of times that it was Jack Duganne. Because I could not otherwise afford to learn and use the technology I needed in order to produce my artwork I knocked on Jack’s door and asked him for a job. Jack is a great teacher and lovely human being and 15 years later and with much thanks to him here I am.

What are some differences with printing on washi compared to other paper?

Washi papers offer much more variety of texture, weight, tone and color as compared to other papers and especially to other fine art quality inkjet papers. Washi papers also tend to be much stronger than western cotton papers and like gampi for example, can remain strong as a very thin and translucent material.

Lastly, do you have any advice or tips with printing on washi for people?

Ideally when printing fine art and photography, custom profiling including sophisticated ink-limiting and linearisation should be performed for each ink/paper/resolution combination. When that is done, the maximum imaging potential of each paper is achieved. I use professional profiling hardware and software as well as a third party RIP to maximize print quality and accuracy.

Short of the professional approach, I have a few tips for printing washi on a high quality inkjet printer such as offered by HP, Canon, and Epson. Generally, the brighter white the paper is, the better color and contrast you will be able to achieve. Ironically, the dominant inkjet printer technology is Japanese and I have never seen a washi printing preset in any print drivers. Perhaps that is because of the huge variety of hand and machine made washi papers available. The paper settings in your print driver among other things controls the amount of ink that is allowed to go onto the paper. Coated washi papers can accept more ink than uncoated papers, they will give the best results. Experiment with fine art paper settings when using coated washi paper. When using uncoated papers, I’ve found that picking a plain paper setting often works best. When an image doesn’t come out as brilliantly as we want sometimes the first instinct is to lay down more ink. Quite often we are overloading the paper giving us muddy looking prints. Better results may be obtained from laying down less ink.
Thank You, Jalal!

From Japan: All-Japan Handmade Washi Association

50 Years of the All-Japan Handmade Washi Association

by Satoshi Hasegawa/Translated by Yuki Katayama

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Mino papermaker Satoshi Hasegawa in his early years

The All Japan Handmade Washi Association is an organization constructed of Japanese papermakers from around the country. Established in 1963, this group has acted as a prime spot for information exchange for 50 years. Though our activities and members have decreased since establishment, the association is still striving to preserve handmade washi.

Back in March, we all gathered to look back on the past 50 years. We were surprised to realize that many of the past records and documents had not been organized or even stored, so there was almost no records of the first 25 years of association activity. There was one individual we came across while organizing data that caught my attention. From the documents I could tell that he was a very devout ‘washi-lover’, who put much effort into succeeding the washi traditions to further generations.

He also greatly contributed to Hon Mino paper being chosen as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset, stating that “We must make (Hon Mino) an Intangible Cultural Asset, before we lose the paper forever”.

I feel that these countless efforts from past individuals is one of the main reasons handmade washi has survived for all these years.

Handmade washi has been proposed to UNESCO for their Intangible Cultural Heritage candidate as “Traditional Japanese washi”, but there are many existing problems in washi production and well as succeeding the traditions.

I wonder what the dedicated, washi-loving individual would say about the current situation of handmade washi. Though I can never meet him, I can’t help but want to exchange thoughts and ideas with him.

From Hiromi Paper:
Like Hasegawa-san, we at Hiromi Paper are also concerned about the decrease in papermakers that are able to make high-quality washi. We hope that we can be of help to those Japanese papermakers and preserve their traditions.

Thank you, Hasegawa-san, for always sending us your lovely and wonderful Mino papers!
See them here: HP-01 Hon Mino, HP-02 Usu Mino, HP-04 Usu Mino Thin, HP-05 Chochin, HM-54 Usu Mino Thinnest.

Wayne Montecalvo at International Encaustic Conference

Artist Wayne Montecalvo will be giving a demo at the the International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, MA, combining digital color separation and silkscreen printing.Vague_Impression_

He will also be teaching his technique at a workshop after the conference at the Truro Center for the Arts at Castle Hill.
Wayne has developed a unique method of using color separated images that are screen printed on separate sheets of Tengucho.
The individual colors are then layered with wax to complete the image.

For more information see the link below and look for the workshop titled “Digital color separation and encaustic workshop”.

https://www.castlehill.org/post-conference.html

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Hiromi Paper will not be at this conference, but we hope all that attend will be able to see how Wayne uses the Japanese papers for his encaustic work!

Be sure to sign up for the workshop, seats are going fast!

A Visit to Angeles Press

Toby Michel and Mary Michel

Angeles Press

www.angelespress.com

Toby Michel with some prints on Niyodo White.
Toby Michel with some prints on Niyodo White.

A couple of days ago, Yuki and I had the pleasure to visit the studio of Angeles Press, which was only a 5 minute car ride away from Hiromi Paper! We were immediately greeted with prints done on our paper such as Niyodo White, as pictured above, and on the KM-03 Surface Gampi White, which was deemed as a favorite, and can be seen below.

Photography, editing, and printing by Mary Michel.
Photography, editing, and printing by Mary Michel on KM-03.

Angeles Press has been around for over 30 years and is now focusing in the digital field. Mary and Toby work intimately with clients on their projects to meet their every needs, whether it is for just a single print or editions. It was amazing to be able to experience how they transform images, some were even taken by smart phone’s, in to physical art work. We were able to work with them on printing with various Japanese and Bhutanese paper’s, which is just a sliver of what they are capable of printing on.

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Painting by Victoria Sutherland, printed on Asuka 150g 17"x22".
Painting by Victoria Sutherland, printed on Asuka 150g 17″x22″.
From Victoria Sutherland. Printed on HP-61 Okawara Small.
From Victoria Sutherland. Printed on HP-61 Okawara Small.
Image taken by Trisha O'Keefe, "White Egret". Print on top with an Epson paper, bottom with MM-23 Shirakabe.
Image taken by Trisha O’Keefe, “White Egret”. Print on top with an Epson paper, bottom with MM-23 Shirakabe.

 

Thank you again for showing us around, Angeles Press!

 

Kozo bark party in Kochi

Stripping of Kozo Bark…

The time of the year has come again where the people of Ino-machi gather for the annual stripping of kozo bark.
The past blog post can be found here.

Many thanks to Mr. Hiroyoshi Chinzei, who provided us with wonderful photos!

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Kozo appears!

Continue reading “Kozo bark party in Kochi”

Johan’s Washi Expedition 2013 part 1

At the beginning of 2013, we were contacted by Johan Solberg (of Norway) in regards to experiencing papermaking in Japan. Having traveled in Japan and studied a basic Japanese language course, Hiromi decided to connect him with the papermakers of Kochi to start with in October 2013. The following is his very first report!

Washi expedition to Kōchi prefecture 2013, Part 1

My name is Johan Solberg and I work with traditional bookbinding, both with book restoration and new bindings. I grew up in Norway and I am currently running a bookbindery in a city called Halden close to Oslo.

Washi is essential to my repair and restoration work, and I also appreciate the aesthetics of washi. Therefore I wanted to gain a deeper understanding about washi, how it’s made, and also to learn more about Japanese culture. Hiromi Katayama of Hiromi Paper Inc, along with her contacts in Kōchi, made it possible for me to travel to Ino-chō, Kochi to get a first hand experience of washi making. I am really grateful for this possibility.

My journey first went from Stockholm, Sweden to Tokyo. It was an 18-hour flight. Next I journeyed further with shinkansen and regular train from Tokyo to Ino-chō, Kochi. I was met by Tsuyoshi Ageta at the station in Ino-chō. We went directly to the house in which I was going to live. When I came in to the house, I was really overwhelmed. A welcome party was held for me! We had a great night with a lot of good food and conversations.DSCF2637

I was very jet-lagged and I needed a few days to recover. On the following Tuesday of my arrival, Ageta-san drove me on a tour around the area. The surrounding nature is absolutely stunning. Steep foothills covered in dense green forest. We started on a road that followed the clear waters of Niyodo river. Tosawashikougeimura was our first stop. At this place I was introduced to the way the fibers are cleaned to perfection after they have been cooked (Chiritori).

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We continued our drive passing farmlands and traditional Japanese wooden houses until we reached Tengujoushi Kyoudousagyoujo. Here we met Mrs. Mie Hamada who was making baskets used for koubori. Mrs. Hamada also showed us different sheets of papers, which had been beautifully decorated in various colors.

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Our next stop was the Paper Museum in Ino. I got an exclusive tour around the museum by Ageta-san and Tomoko Hosokawa who spoke perfect English. So I learned a lot and got se see traditional equipment for washi making and also books and items made of washi.

After the Paper Museum, Kochi Perfectural Paper Technology Center was the next place on our list. Masaaki Ariyoshi gave me a splendid tour around the facilities and explained me in detail the process of washi and I got to look at different types of fibres. Ageta-san showed me the collection of washi samples from the whole of Japan. That really gave me an idea of the complexity of the craft.

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Our next stop was in Tosa city at the paper mill of Kensho Ishimoto.
Here I got to observe the drying process, as well as looking around in the interiors of this traditional paper mill.

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Our final stop of this tour was the paper mill of Takeo Ishimoto. Tsuyako Yokogawa (in the picture) was making large sheets of paper. It was amazing to watch her skilled movements of the suketa. I even got to try, but it was extremely difficult, and the result became a lump of fibres.

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Before we went back to Ino, we drove on a narrow road heading up the hillside. At the end of the road surrounded by green forest was Kiyotaki-ji Temple. This was the first temple that I have visited on Shikoku, and I really hope to go visit others as well.

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I learned a lot that day, and I got to see the washi making process from different perspectives. It was also a very good introduction to the area.

The next day I started working as an intern at Takaoka-Ushi Co., Ltd. Communication is of course challenging, because of my very limited Japanese, but my coworkers are very patient and I really feel included.

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My first task at the paper mill was to remove dark spots from the kozo fibers (Chiritori). The work requires a lot of patience and concentration. It feels good to participate in the washi production.

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Celebrate Hiromi Paper’s 25th Anniversary with Us!

Date: September 28th, 2013 (Saturday)
Time: 6.30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Hiromi Paper, Bergamot Station.
2525 Michigan Ave, Suite G-9
Santa Monica, CA 90404

25 years ago Hiromi Paper opened to serve a connection between Japanese paper-makers and artists around the world. This year we will be celebrating our quarter century anniversary and we would love to have you join in on our festivities! An evening reception will take place right at Bergamot Station, where our retail store is located. We will also be joined by paper-makers from Kochi and Fukui, Japan. Stop by for some drinks, grub, and to mingle with fellow paper/art lovers and makers! There will also be a special 25% discount off all items in-store on the day of the reception party.

Please RSVP by calling or emailing.

Apron

Check out our new aprons, which we will be selling for $15.00! Contact us for more information.

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