My love affair with Japanese papers is nearly lifelong going back to when I first saw Frank Lloyd Wright’s collection of Japanese art many decades ago. It also stems from the concept of wabi-sabi (侘寂), or accepting, if not delighting in imperfection, something which was essential to me when I was a painter and sculptor. It’s ironic that years ago, when I first visited Hiromi Paper Inc. in search of Japanese papers to try with inkjet printing, I used printers loaded with custom grayscale inks, and used exotic workflows and drivers in quest of the perfect digital fiber-based “silver” prints, no wabi-sabi allowed. It took years for commercial printers and papers to evolve, but now we have the ability to make beautiful archival fiber-based BW and color photographic prints. But in spite of all of these “perfect” prints that I produce on a daily basis, I still crave wabi-sabi.
Recently I’ve been working on printing work from three different series of art (Moving Meditation, Take the No. 9, and Collision of Moments) that both formally and conceptually called out for Japanese papers that partner with the images to make them more than just photographic prints. I’ve tested more than 30 different Hiromi papers at this point including both machine and handmade papers made from a variety of fibers both inkjet coated and uncoated. The papers range from tissue thin to more substantial washi. Currently I’m printing in both color and grayscale using Colorbyte Software’s Imageprint Black RIP with a Canon imagePROGRAF PRO-1000 17-inch printer.
In this article we focus on prints from my Collision of Moments series which are color. The images are light-painted time exposures that I began to experiment with about two decades ago. They involve collaborating with movement artists (yogis, modern dancers, belly dancers, or artist’s models) who move through space for up to 10 seconds. During their movement I hold the shutter open and watch, triggering several flash heads placed around the room to punctuate moments, glimpses of mindfulness, in a stream of movement. The process is very rich and I’m forever grateful to my collaborators for their experimental spirit.
An essential aspect of this project, and also of my love for photography, photographic printing, tea, and all things Japanese is a now more than 20 year friendship with Antonis Ricos. I trust Antonis’s eyes (and brain) more than any other human to evaluate a print both technically and artistically. He’s been more than generous to pour over my print samples, evaluating the papers, profiles, and most of all the wabi-sabi to give you a glimpse into what you can expect from inkjet printing on Japanese washi. He has also beautifully photographed the samples to demonstrate all of these features and provided detailed observations on what he sees. See his comments as well as demonstrative photographs here.
There is still much to do in the project including selecting the final paper for each series and fine-tuning profiles and images, but the journey so far has been most rewarding, and I look forward to showing these once we are again free to roam the planet.
Above, the Yoshino river, with its pebbled edges, flows elegantly through Nara, where our Uda Gami and Nara Natural Dyed paper series are made. (pic: Yukako Ando)
Every two years, Hiromi Paper staff lead a tour through Japan visiting papermakers, toolmakers, and conservationists to gain further understanding of the world of Washi. The tour is heavily focused on conservation, thus we visit mostly the artisans who are producing papers used for conservation and restoration. As usual, the tour began in Kyoto, then traveled on a chartered bus through Japan visiting prefectures like Kochi, Shimane, Fukui, Gifu, and Nara. Participants stay in nearby accommodations and eat what is locally available. During the tour the artisans show how they are making the papers that many of our customers have come to know so well. Here, HPI staff Yuka presents what she saw and what she heard during this year’s tour.
Washi was not made in the summer because the tororoaoi (neri) would lose its viscosity…
In a lightly air-conditioned traditional Japanese house, with the back and forth motion of rocking the suketa (papermaking mould), traditional handmade Japanese paper is made.
The light that shines through the studio windows are ever so warm and subtle, glistening on the water surface. The well water is cold to the touch. Inside the vat are the soft kozo fibers, floating in a solution of tororoaoi and water. The papermaking studios are quiet and calming, and draws us in.
Contrary to the stillness of the studio, the scorching sun continues to heat up the outdoors, with an uncontrollable amount of sweat rushing out. This year’s Hiromi Paper Washi Tour took place in the lingering summer heat, for seven days in the beginning of September. We visited six regions, twelve studios, and four paper museums.
The hot summertime is an ideal time for papermakers to accept visitors, due to the lack of papermaking work (papermaking is primarily done in the cold months), but the participants and Hiromi Paper staff felt as if we were all on a summer camp, battling the heat and humidity, unique to Japanese summers.
Upon visiting six different regions and twelve studios, I realized that there were various styles in papermaking. The preparation work, materials used, how the suketa (papermaking screen/mould) is moved, how the papers are dried, are all a bit different depending on the region. Due to this slight variation, it’s not possible to simply group “washi” into one category.
Each papermaker or region’s unique papermaking style has been passed down for generations and will be passed onto future generations as well.
THE YOUNG GENERATION ALSO HARD AT WORK
IN BETWEEN THE OLD AND YOUNG GENERATION ARE: Hiroyoshi Chinzei of Hidaka Washi, Kiyoko Urabe making Usu Mino paper, Masayuki Fukunishi of Uda-gami, Uekubo san of Hon Misu gami, and Norimasa Abe making Izumo Mingei paper.
I don’t want to reveal what the subtle differences in papermaking styles are just yet, but perhaps you’d like to consider finding out for yourself on the next Washi Tour…?
Supported by the presence of beautiful mountains and natural water, there is great significance and depth in the traditions of papermaking, passed down from generations past. To meet the people that make the papers and to learn about the backstory is helpful in becoming one step closer to washi. I am grateful to all of the papermakers and craftsmen that I met throughout the tour, and wish them all the best in their future endeavors.
Washi Tour Route: Tosa Washi Museum / Hamada Washi (handmade Tengucho) / Hidaka
Washi (machine-made Tengucho) / Mr. Yamaomto (Japanese papermaking tool maker) /
SHIMANE: Abe Eishiro Memorial Hall / Shinichiro and Norimasa Abe (Izumo Mingei
papermaker) / Otaki Shrine (Paper shrine) / Iwano Paper Mill (large-sie handmade papermaker)/ Yamaki Seishi (Gampi papermaker) / Ichibei Iwano (National Living Treasure) / Igarashi Paper Mill (large-size handmade papermaker) / Kiyoko Urabe (Usu Mino papermaker) / Mino Washi Museum / Masayuki Fukunishi (Yoshino Uda-gami papermaker) / Ryoji Uekubo (Hon Misu papermaker) / Mr. Sekichi of Bokusendo (Conservation studio)
For more information about our Biannual Washi Tour, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
ALL IMAGES ARE COPYRIGHT HIROMI PAPER, INC. For use of images you can inquire at email@example.com. All photos taken by Yukako Ando.
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.
Thin 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.
Tengujo/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.
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.
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.
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.
We had the pleasure of visiting the studio of lighting designer and artist, John Wigmore. He combines the elements of sculpture, painting, and installation with Japanese papers for his lighting installations for both show rooms and personal clients. This time, we were able to ask a couple of questions and learn more about John and his work.
Q: Can you tell us a little about your artist background and company?
A: I graduated from UCSC with a BA in Art Studio and mainly concentrated on painting and sculpture. I got interested in natural materials and found that I enjoyed working with paper in my sculptures. I was looking at a lot of James Turrell and Robert Irwin at the time in the early 90’s and began making my light sculptures in NYC from Okawara paper combined with a heavyweight watercolor paper.
Rembrandt and Gampi Written By: Bruce Meade The news got to Rembrandt quickly. The first trade ships from Japan had just dropped anchor in Amsterdam harbor. And among the exotic treasures in their holds was rumored to be a rare, beautiful paper. Luminescent, incredibly lightweight, yet more than strong enough to hold a printer’s ink. Rembrandt hurried through a maze of alleyways to the shop of the paper merchant. The artist arrived just as the new sheets from Japan were being carefully stacked on wooden shelves. “Gampi”, stated the merchant. “Made from the bark of a shrub that grows only in the wild. Quite expensive.” Continue reading “Rembrandt and Gampi by Bruce Meade”
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.
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.
Thank you again for showing us around, Angeles Press!
This July, Blue Line Gallery (916 783-4117), a key community art gallery and resource in Northern California will feature a collage making use of paper from Hiromi Paper, Inc.
The member show begins July 20 and extends to August at the gallery’s location in downtown Roseville.
The gallery’s CEO, Julie Hirota, and the Director of Gallery Operations, Aleksander Bohnak, have made every effort to include a diversity of materials in the selections for this summer’s show. Along with the member show and community events, the gallery stages shows on specific themes that challenges and inspires art viewers. One example has been the recent show featuring art utilizing imaginative human figures.
Bill Laws‘ collages, including his work Boxed Leaves which is featured in this summer’s show, encompass a diversity of collage styles. From the political montage, to found material works to the recent style of subtle colors and shapes represented by Boxed Leaves, Bill’s work extends through twenty years of concentration in the collage medium.
We create things inspired by joy, fun experiences and positive vibes. We create our art with our hands out of passion for the craft and expression. – Candy & Graham.
Look out for our paper in this exhibition with live acoustic performances by Graham and the Driftwood Caravan happening this Saturday at The OC Mart Mix! Come out to experience some awe-inspiring photographs from Graham Day and Candy Mako which are lacquered and wood backed. You can also take a look at their work on their etsy page. Hope to see everyone out there and best of luck Graham and Candy!