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project was in 1977, commissioned by The Metropolitan Museum of Art to reproduce “The Monuments of Paris” wallpaper (originally made in early 1800s).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.
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.
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.
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!
Just recently, one of our beloved paper makers in Kochi prefecture was featured in an article in the Yomiuri newspaper. (You can see the original article here)
Takaoka Ushi was the first paper makers to ever invent a paper-making machine in 1957; which is still used to this day. It is often said that handmade paper is better in quality than machine made ones, which is accurate, but these machine made papers by Takaoka are of excellent qualities, resembling those of handmade papers. Continue reading “Behind the paper: Takaoka Ushi”
By Yoshiko Shimano Associate Professor, Printmaking University of New Mexico
I was introduced to a roll of Shiramine washi paper over ten years ago and I have used it ever since. This paper has extended my work in many directions and challenges me to create my prints (works on paper) innovatively. The rolls of paper allow me to work large. My over-sized prints are composed by joining together a few or many sections of the Shiramine. This process helps me to create my prints three dimensionally or even four dimensionally. Before I make any matrices (materials to be printed from), I start composing papers, thinking about the overall size, flow of energy, dynamics, physicality and presence of the work based on my concept. I put the sections of blank papers up in place (on a wall or sometime on a floor for a floor installation work.) In my mind, I can see my images, which I haven’t even printed yet. It is a most critical stage in my creation process. If I can see the image, I feel that the work is already successful.
The next stop was to a paper mill that was brand new to Hiromi Paper, Nai Gai Tengucho Paper, Ltd. Owned by two sisters, Nai Gai specializes in machine made Tengucho. Like the Shikoku Wagami machine made Gampi mill, we learned here again that machine made paper still takes a large amount of time to prepare by hand. The kozo fibers are cooked and cleaned by hand. Then, setting Tosa Tengucho apart from everywhere else, a specially made stainless steel basket (koburi) is used in water to separate the fibers and clean them even further.