Studio Visit: Twigs Fabrics and Wallpaper

Founded in 1973, Twigs Fabrics and Wallpaper specializes in handmade textiles and wallpapers inspired by 18th and 19th century decor. Founder, owner and creative mastermind Arthur Athas embarked on this path in Boston where he was still attending art school. Twigs’ first major project was in 1977, commissioned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art to reproduce “The Monuments of Paris” wallpaper (originally made in early 1800s). The museum requested a panoramic wallpaper to use in their exhibition room, taking a team of artists two years to produce the drawings and over a thousand silkscreens to finish the printing. After many years of working on numerous large scale projects (even at the White House!), Arthur and his partner Rick decided to scale down to a two-person team in their production studio in Culver City.

“The Monuments of Paris” promotional material

About ten years ago, Arthur began using rolls of Japanese papers for his wallpapers, because of their durability and their texture that adds to Twigs’ handmade feel. By using a paper that is a blend of kozo and cotton/hemp, the paper is strong enough to withstand multiple layers of silkscreen, hand-painting and dyes. Noticeably, there are no machines in the Twigs studio, because no part of their process requires them. The papers or fabrics are laid out on their long tables, where all of the printing, painting and dyeing magic happens. Even the dyes are made by hand in the outdoor patio area, carefully concocted by Rick’s visual senses and 27 years of experience.

Wall paper hand painted on Japanese paper

Though struggling to adjust to the ever changing tastes and interests in the decor/design realm, Arthur has never let his artistic vision be blurred. He still keeps an aged poster of the Villa Foscari – La Malcontenta (villa near Venice, Italy) on his studio wall, as a constant reminder of what had initially sparked him to start this now niche business. Behind Twigs’ continued success in such a unique market is Arthur’s unwavering vision and passion for art and all things beautiful.

Hand painted wallpaper on Japanese paper

Hiromi Paper, Inc. 30th Anniversary: Chigiri-e

Our 30th Anniversary Reception and Workshop Extravaganza is fast approaching! The second of our FOUR workshop stations that we’ll reveal today is Chigiri-e. The Japanese art form of Chigiri-e is now well over 1,000 years old dating back to the Heian Period. Chigiri-e neared death in the 1800s but the creation of Tengujo/Tengucho provided a new way of approaching the method. In Japanese chigiru roughly translates to “tear” and e translates to “image”, “picture”, or “painting” thus Chigiri-e can be roughly translated as “torn picture”. More accurately though, Chigiri-e is, an image made of thin pieces of Japanese paper torn and shredded and then affixed to a stiffer surface, such as board or thick paper stock, and adhered with PVA, Funori, Fueki-kun nori, or Jin Shofu.

chigiri-eThin layers of Washi (Japanese paper) allow the artist to build depth, perspective, and value in the image. Skilled Chigiri-e artists can achieve a sophistication reminiscent of watercolor paintings, however, it can be an art form suitable for all ages–from children to older communities. All of the different kinds of Washi (Japanese papers) possess many characteristics that lend themselves well to different techniques.

IMG_1722Tengujo/Tengucho, Color Kozo, and Color Gampi, for instance, can be used to layer on color and value due to it’s highly translucent nature. It can be used to quickly and subtly cover large swaths of space with color or texture.

Amate Swirl


The fibers of Kinwashi, Unryu, and Amate Swirl can be easily dissected from their surfaces to create gestures that resemble branches, stems, flower stamen, hair, etc.

While there are traditional shikishi boards used to house the Chigiri-e, any sort of paper will suffice as the base, depending on the needs and desires of the artist. Papers like our Black, White, and Natural Shikishi, Bhutan Stationery, Amate Solid, and Yucatan make excellent bases, though the latter 3 diverge a bit from tradition.




Now available in store only is the Cavepaper Scrap Pack ($9.00) which comes filled with ends and bits of Cavepaper’s experiments and left overs, often one-of-a-kind pieces. These are helpful in adding unusual textures and patterns to your Chigiri-e.

Studio Visit: J.J. L’Heureux

Bergy Bit Paintings on Nepalese Paper
Artist’s Statement by J. J. L’Heureux

“I am an abstract painter. I often use landscape as the inspiration for my work. The road from the physical environment to the inspiration on the canvas attempts to convey my enthusiasm and attraction to a place, its wildlife and selected aspects of the actual physical scenery.

Antarctica is remote, vast, windy and cold. Yet it is the most pristine place in all regards. It contains life in the most amazing forms and adaptations including penguins (birds that do not fly), birds that fly, seals, whales and in few places a handful of plants. While it is a place dominated by white on white there are colors in this setting of ice and snow that most people would be surprised to see.

Few people have had the privilege to travel to any part of this continent. There is a complex process underway among the many nations working in Antarctica of expanding the imagery of Antarctica into our shared cultural inventory of word, picture, music and scientific discovery.

Since my first visit thirteen years ago I have been building my own visual vocabulary. Bergy Bits is my first series of ice paintings. I have a photographic series that captures the colors and life in the snow and ice landscape. It is my intention to use different disciplines to capture my varied responses to this most wondrous place.

Close up look at Bergy Bits by J.J.

I have been to the Southern Ocean 13 times, the last in March 2013 when I was able to fly into the Taylor Dry Valley and study the Canada Glacier, one for the only “moving without movement” glaciers as it stays in approximately the same place because as it moves slowly forward it evaporates at the front inthe extremely windy, dry and extra cold air. It is my intention to find additional venues to explore different parts of this vast and inspiring place. The art will follow.

By definition Bergy Bits are large chunks of glacier ice or a very small iceberg floating in the sea. They are generally spawned from disintegrating icebergs and glaciers.”

We visited J.J.’s studio in late July, to see the Bergy Bits Series she was finishing up on. We were surprised to see how she incorporated the textured Nepalese papers into her work, using the bumpy textures of the papers to portray the coarse surfaces of the actual icebergs in the Southern Ocean. Over some coffee and J.J’s delicious homemade chocolate pudding, we asked her a few questions regarding her work:

Why did you choose to work with the Nepal papers for this series?
I loved the Nepal paper’s texture. I used to create my own bumpy textures on smooth papers, but when I found this Nepalese paper at Hiromi, it saved me a lot of trouble.

Do you go through any special preparations?
I have someone make the special size custom panels for me, then stretch the papers on to them and adhered with PVA glue. Then, I apply gesso before I start with my oil paints. I feel that oil paints have more texture than acrylic, which tends to become ‘flat’.

What is your main inspiration?
Well of course it comes from my expeditions to the South Ocean! Since 2000, I’ve been going every year on these adventures, and have been making art, conducting research and helping people ever since.

How long have you been using papers from Hiromi Paper?
Since Hiromi was at the Marina Del Rey location. She has the best papers, best variety and most availability. No one is disappointed with Hiromi’s Papers!

Check out our Nepal Paper here.

Thank You, J.J.!

A Visit to TreeSpace Studio

TreeSpace Studio

Amy T. Won

Watercolors on Khadi.

It started out as a project to create her wedding invitations, and escalated to more invitation requests from couples. Amy is now taking the time to work on her own art. She has been drawing all her life, and attended school for architecture. During a mission to find paper sources, she was led to us, and we have been big fans ever since the first time she brought in her work! Last week, Yuki and I were more than excited to be able to visit her enchanted studio. Take a look around!

Continue reading “A Visit to TreeSpace Studio”

Behind the Scenes: Vegetable/Fruit Papyrus

Here is a sneak-peek into the studio of Martha & Alfons in Germany, the makers of the beautiful vegetable and fruit papyrus papers!

Thinly sliced radish strips, drying in the sun
Thinly sliced radish strips, drying in the sun
Alfons, preparing the vegetables…

More to come!


Studio Visit: Geraldine Neuwirth

Curtain Call, 2010

New York native artist Geraldine Neuwirth opened up her studio to us and shared some insightful words about the nature of her art.

Geraldine with “Spinning Class”.

This certain piece is around the size of the average human height, measuring at 98″ x 68″. Her work is often framed, making the piece even larger in person, and this is how she would transport them from her studio to her exhibitions. Geraldine regularly showcases in California and New York, just this year she had a POP UP exhibition at 74 Market Street in LA, and the previous year she had a solo show at the Wendt-Gallery in New York.

Geraldine not only works in large sizes, some of her smaller pieces are done on the Shojo-shi paper. These bold, dream-like and intricate shapes are done with an ink media, sometimes mixed with pastel, and often intermingled with more shapes added on by collage.

The combination of shapes and colors are familiar to Geraldine such as one would be to a “language”. They come to her in their own form of vocabulary and speak to her through influences of the circus and theater. Growing up in New York, Geraldine was no stranger to the theater world, because her father had worked at the Shubert Theatre. One of her two daughters, Irene Neuwirth, is also well known in the business with her designer jewelry.

Her works-in-progress are mounted on the wall as she studies them from afar sensing where to change certain shapes or colors for the final product. Even if a piece has entered the final stage, in the future it has a possibility of changing or being pulled apart to be used in other pieces.

This is another set of mix media work done on our Mohachi 22″x22″. Geraldine often creates a number of pieces that fit together pleasantly, either by color, shape, or size, and show them in groups. She is also working on 3 dimensional constructions as well. Also, you may have noticed by now that Geraldine does not follow the shape of the paper. She likes to create life and energy at the borders, extending her art without limit. When asked she says, “why stop on paper?”.

Another source of her inspiration comes from her transformation through the hardships and changes in her life. Her work is very personal, and the objects and colors call out to certain emotions differently for each individual audience member. Observing her work is really an experiential process, at times you even feel yourself falling into it.

Playground, 2010

Thank you so much for allowing us to visit your studio, Geraldine!

Chigiri-e Session with Washi

This past weekend the Zenshuji Terakoya (Little Tokyo, Los Angeles) had their a chigiri-e session for their little participants. Natural washi paper were used as backdrops for the colorful images created using decorative Japanese paper. The session started with a little introduction and a reading of one Keiko Sena‘s picture books. It certainly looked like a fun event for the kids!

Joseph Francis

Photographer and Designer Joseph Francis works in the visual effects industry in Hollywood. One of his best known early credits was supervising the computer animation for ‘Independence Day’. This weekend he shared with us a bodice he created from our various decorative papers. From the waist down, however, he designed and brought to life on his computer.

Truly enticing! Take a peek at some remarkable shots of his process and a more intimate view of the bodice.

Continue reading “Joseph Francis”

Colorful Tokyo

Greetings from Tokyo!
Fellow HPI staff Joanna and I (Yuki) are now in Tokyo, before our 1-week Washi tour begins next week!

Today, we explored Ginza,  strolling the streets and browsing through multiple stores to see what is trending now in Japan.
What we came across was an item that we both adore….WASHI TAPE. Continue reading “Colorful Tokyo”

Astrid Preston: Small Forest @ SMMoA

On Exhibition
March 21 – March 29
Santa Monica Museum of Art

Week long pop-up studio and benefit art sale of Astrid Preston‘s amazing new works.
Featuring a vibrant collection of paintings of trees and birds on papyrus and wood veneer (paperwood).

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