Drying boards outside of the Hasegawa Washi Kobo–Hasegawa’s papermill.
Written by Satoshi Hasegawa with translation by Yuki Katayama
Satoshi Hasegawa is known for making some of the world’s most coveted Japanese conservation papers, the Shoinshi and Usu-Gami series (formerly named Hon Mino and Usu Mino papers), made of 100% Nasu Kozo cooked with soda ash and dried on 150 year old wooden drying boards made from the horse chestnut tree. Here, Hasegawa-san reflects on his shifted practice of papermaking.
Due to a record-breaking warm winter, many parts of Japan have been
experiencing a decrease in the amount of snow compared to past years. Having
lived in Yamagata until I graduated high school at 18, I feel that the past three
winters have had considerably less snow compared to forty years ago. The
climate in Yamagata and Gifu Prefecture (where I previously lived) is very
different. Yamagata is along the coast of the Sea of Japan whereas Gifu is near
the Pacific Ocean. Gifu Prefecture is blessed with sunny days in the winter,
suitable for papermaking and papermakers who utilize the natural sun when
board-drying their papers.
In that sense, papermaking in Yamagata seems a bit
irrational because of the climate difference and lack of resources nearby but I
try to adapt my papermaking methods to the new environment, and not the
other way around. Yamagata is known for the drastic change in weather
conditions, with extremely cold winters and scorching summers. Gifu has
plentiful access to natural water and not many regulations for water drainage
whereas water preservation and drainage is quite strict in a rice-producing
region like Yamagata.
There are still many obstacles to reach a comfortable, sustainable level of papermaking in Yamagata but I find value in the journey to achieve my ideal papermaking studio. Tsuruoka, the city I live in, is a part of the UNESCO Creative Cities network and has been recognized as a Creative City of Gastronomy.
The city has great interest in all agricultural or farm products made locally in Tsuruoka and I’ve slowly started to become conscious of the possible connections between food culture and washi. Being in a city that is so strongly tied to food culture on a global scale, I’m considering the new potential for washi and Japanese papermaking in conjunction with gastronomy. Of course my main focus will always be making washi, but being that food is such an approachable and familiar theme for everyone, it will be interesting what future collaborations we can come up with.
We’re looking back at work by Laura Viñas this month. Through her work Viñas explores the psychological reality about self-contextualization and memory. Painting Tengucho 5g and 9g papers with watercolors, Viñas transforms the seemingly delicate sheets into powerful haunting images of landscapes alluding to the Pampa region of South America– a vast expanse of low-lying flat fields that unfurl in every direction that you look towards the horizon. Viñas work asks us to look into the image on the surface of the Tengucho paper and once there to try to look past it and get lost in the illusory expanse, and to consider the space behind the paper as part of what’s directly confronting us in each painting or installation.
In the words of the artist:
My subject matter deals with the perception of landscape in order to create new places. These new places are a mental construction, and in them the object of my work is embedded: time deposits, memory and distance. At the same time, it allows me to research into the concealed and enigmatic side of these objects. I choose my materials with precision: thin rice papers, watercolors and photography.Furthermore, I restrict the color palette, the vanishing points, and materials in order to fully develop my creativity and concentration. I manipulate nature and light as an abstraction, to generate a mirror where the viewer finds himself. –Laura Viñas’ artist statement
This month we are excited to introduce Deffner & Johann, German distributor of Hiromi Paper’s conservation papers, materials, and more. Deffner & Johann’s dedication to product innovation has made them a great partner in promoting special papers and materials across Europe.
In 2015, Deffner & Johann presented a video on “Parchment Restoration” with paper restorer Maren Dümmler, using washi from Hiromi Paper.
“Deffner & Johann is a leading supplier of materials, tools and equipment for conservation & restoration, care of historical monuments and for those practising traditional craft techniques. We also supply design solutions for fitting out workshops and studios. In over 135 years of its history, the company has made a name for itself far beyond the borders of German speaking countries as a specialist wholesaler of products for use in all aspects of the conservation of cultural goods.
Our customers include well known museums at home and abroad, public and private archives, restoration & conservation studios, trades and crafts workshops and discerning artists as well as universities and research institutions specialising in conservation training. We refine our range continually in close consultation with our customers. This co-operation drives us forward and forms a substantial part of our company’s philosophy.”
The exhibition will be open to the public until September 20th, 2015.
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.
This is an especially interesting collaboration for Hiromi Paper as well, because when Jennifer had been searching for a local bookbinder, we were the ones that first recommended George at The Fire Monkey; whom we’ve had a close relationship with for many years. We are so glad this collaboration worked out, and together they created such a wonderful book!
Five rolls of Okawara paper were ordered from Hiromi for the project, and the scrolls are now completed and are being taken to Bermuda next week for unveiling and exhibition there at the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute on Thursday 20th September at 6.00pm.
The Sargasso Sea flows around the island of Bermuda in the Atlantic and is host to a wide variety of endemic and endangered sea species. The scrolls have been made to raise awareness for both Pyramid Atlantic and the Sargasso Sea Alliance – which is striving to protect the Sargasso Sea and its associated marine species under international law.
The idea was conceived by 2 board members of Pyramid Atlantic, Marti Ittner and Jenny Freestone. Artists from around the world were approached and ask to submit drawings of some of the marine species that live in, or make use of, the Sargasso Sea. The scrolls comprise a set of 3 panels of Okawara paper, each 2’6′ wide by 8′ high
Under the direction of Gretchen Schermerhorn, Artistic Director at Pyramid Atlantic, photographic images of the sargassum weed have been digitally printed on gold on each panel. The artists’ drawings have been converted to digital images, and screenprinted onto the panels. The scrolls are in an edition of 5. Six portfolios, each containing containing a full set of each marine species (on Okawara) are also under production.
If interested in purchasing or for further information, please contact Pyramid Atlantic!
This series of three-color silkscreen prints is all about color interaction. We played with the transparency of the inks, which creates numerous colors as they overlap. The ink absorbs beautifully onto the handmade Japanese paper, made in the province of Echizen, giving the prints a warmth very characteristic of this paper.
This series of one-color silkscreen prints was inspired by the paintings of Mark Rothko, in which big color fields interact with each other. The prints are on a beautiful Japanese style Bhutan Paper, made with 100% Mitsumata fibers, acid-free and unsized. These prints are pure in the way that they are all about the color and the paper. The absence of shapes allows us to experience the beauty of the isolated color. These prints evoke a feeling of Zen that is very calming in any space.
Last night, Hiromi Paper staff and LACMA conservator Soko Furuhata gave an encore lecture on Washi and Youshi: Japanese and Western Paperat LACMA. It was definitely a broad topic, and we found we just have too much to say in one hour! But, somehow we got our presentation down to three basics: History of Japanese Paper (Washi), Video clips on papermaking (you really have to see the movements), and Hiromi Paper collaborations between western artists and washi papermakers. We end on a sort of serious note on Hiromi Paper’s mission in continuing to support washi papermakers, but we truly felt the support and encouragement from the audience afterward. We are so grateful for this! LACMA conservator Soko Furuhata also gave her very interesting presentation on western handmade papers and how LACMA uses Japanese paper in their conservation projects. Thank you Soko and the LACMA councils for making this night possible!
Our next stop in Fukui was to visit National Living Treasure, Mr. Ichibei Iwano.
The ninth generation in his family, Mr. Iwano is the maker of the Kizuki Hosho, a high quality 100% Japanese Kozo paper, now mainly used for woodblock printing or calligraphy. His papermaking processes are done by hand, with help from his wife and son. In his late-seventies, Mr. Iwano still takes time to do chiritori, with his own hands, to make sure all or most impurities do not show up on his finished papers.