Collision of Moments: A Photographer’s Encounter with Japanese Washi

Written by Robert Morrison

Gaze of Orpheus, 2019, Artist’s Proof 
Fine art digital print on Handmade Gampi Paper 
Movement collaborator: Emma Kury

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.  

Robert Morrison Bricked, 2018, Artist’s Proof 
Fine art digital print on Handmade Izumo Mingei Gampi Paper.  Movement collaborator: Corah

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.

Mindful Flight, 2019, Artist’s Proof  
Fine art digital print on MM-20W Gampi Paper.  
Movement collaborator: Marley Hornewer

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.

The Circle, 2004, Artist’s Proof  
Fine art digital print on Inkjet Coated kozo and pulp machine-made paper (IJ-48W) Movement collaborator: Shahina 
Detail Photo: Antonis Ricos

To see more of my work please visit studiotheia.com or follow me on Instagram (@studiotheia) or Flickr (@studiotheia) to see what I’m looking at recently.

Laura Viñas revisited

 

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Lejania by Laura Viñas. Watercolor on Tengucho paper.

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.

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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

Take a look at more of Laura’s work here: 

Artist Feature: Sal Taylor Kidd on Mohachi Paper

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Salted paper printing on Mohachi

ORIGINS – Sal Taylor Kidd

On view until May 14th

Gallery 169

169 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402

Originally from the UK, photographer and artist Sal Taylor Kydd has lived all over the world, before settling in Los Angeles. Formerly an editor, Sal has been developing her photography for the last six years, both as an editorial and a fine art photographer. Sal will be showing her work from her series “Just When I Thought I Had You” at Gallery 169 in Santa Monica. Check out her amazing prints done on our Mohachi paper.

“Origins” artist statement:                                                                 

Growing up in a small town in England, I had a childhood that was in many ways typical of its time. In the 1970s children led relatively unfettered lives and were free to explore the world with a large degree of independence. In my work photographing my children and family, I find myself revisiting my childhood through their experience, playing by rivers and ponds in the summer, idling the days away, discovering a real connection with nature. Every year we spend our summers on a small island off the coast of Maine. It has become a touchstone for us as a family, a place for us to connect with nature and with each other. For my children these are times of growth and exploration that are strongly tied to a sense of place, of roots and authenticity.

This series is entitled “Origins” because through these images I am attempting to understand what defines that sense of connection and understanding of where we come from, what ties us to a place and tethers us to what has come before?                                                                       

The processes I have used in this series is Salted Paper printing, in which I use a combination of antiquarian and contemporary technologies. I use a digital camera to capture my images, but then I create a physical negative from the digital file, which is then printed in a contact frame, using the same techniques pioneered by British photographer Henry Fox Talbot in the 1800s.                                                                      12806115_10153955822389948_2613101145682938713_n

With these processes, the element of time is not inconsequential, it takes time to make a print, a process that gives opportunity for discovery and serendipity. You coat your paper, you expose it to the sun, you wait. It is a contemplative and mindful undertaking. In each of the steps, from sizing the paper, to exposing the negative and developing the print, there is a tangible connection with nature and the natural elements brought into the print, which again mirrors the content of my work. The artistry of “making” a photograph becomes itself an act of becoming and invention.

 

From Japan: Hiroya Yamashita from Yamaji Paper mill in Fukui

In our quest for the most color fast kozo paper, Hiromi Paper has collaborated with Echizen papermaker, Hiroya Yamashita, to create the Hiroya color series. Here are some questions we had for Hiroya about the new color series:
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Paper profile: Weight, Size, Material, Sizing, and Cooked with?
50% Kozo, 35% Pulp, 15% Manila Hemp
67 gsm
With sizing
Cooked with caustic soda

How did you get into papermaking?
I started papermaking about 13 years ago, when I was 23 years old. The mill is my family business, so it was a smooth transition into the world of papermaking.

Can you tell us the process of developing this paper?
The base of Hiroya Paper is a handmade paper that we had originally been making at the mill, with a mixture of local-grown kozo, pulp and Manila hemp. I felt that it was important to use as much local ingredients as possible, since I knew this paper was going to be used internationally.

What do you find yourself doing when not making paper?
I love cycling, playing golf, and of course eating myself full of sushi!

Please leave a few words for our readers if you have any:
I’m always open for new suggestions or opinions on what kind of papers overseas customers want! Please let us papermakers know, and we will try our best to fulfill those requests!

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How were the colors of Hiroya Paper developed?
In order to achieve better, long-lasting colors, I outsourced to a different company for their assistance to dye the papers after the papers were formed.
 
What is the significance of the coloring?
The pigments used are what were traditionally used to dye kimono textiles, and are much less likely to fade over time.

How are the colors applied to the papers?
The colors are screen-printed onto the papers, all by hand.

Elinor Cotait: Photographs on Asuka paper

Brazil-based artist Elinor Cotait has been using the Asuka inkjet coated paper for her beautiful imagery. I had the pleasure of meeting her a few months ago when she visited our store, all the way from Brazil. We began to talk about her works on Asuka paper, and I loved how her subtle photographic images looked on the Asuka paper!

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Árvores 2, 2014

A few words from Elinor:
“In 2012, visiting friends in LA, I spent some time at Bergamot Station Art Center and then discovered Hiromi Paper, where I found myself in an entire new word of possibilities. At the time, I was working in a series of photographs characterized by soft forms and pastel colors. My idea was to share through it a very abstract, subtle view of the landscape. However, I tried all kind of papers to print and never achieves what I had in mind.

That is when I found coated washi paper at Hiromi Paper. Not only one kind or size, but several! I brought some options home [to Brazil] and in the very first trial I finally saw something that was real only in my mind becoming real on paper too.

Nowadays, I am a member of Hiromi Paper, and four series of my photos are based on their washi paper. Currently I am working on a photo book that hopefully will be printed on washi paper too.”

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Árvores 1, 2014

Continue reading “Elinor Cotait: Photographs on Asuka 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.

Hidaka Washi’s Chinzei-san: IIC Hong Kong Memo 2014

香港、香港、香港。

Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong.

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飲茶とブルース・リー。そして100万ドルの夜景の街。

Dim sum and Bruce Lee. And the town of Million-dollar Night View.

そんな世界有数の観光都市で、2年に一度のIICの学会が行われるという。この貴重な情報元はもちろんヒロミペーパーの寛美さんである。あれは去年の初夏のことだ。「ウチは来年のAICサンフランシスコとIIC香港に出展するから、そのブースの一角でよろしければ御社もメーカーとして参加してはどうでしょう?」と、初対面の対話もそこそこに大変有難いオファーを頂いたのが、つい先日のようだ。二つ返事で「是非お願いします。」と即答し、大変貴重なAICサンフランシスコでの体験を活かし、より良い典具帖紙のプレゼンテーションを行う為、香港に向かった。現地の空港ロビーで寛美さん、越前和紙の五十嵐さんと合流し、いざ出発. エアポート・エクスプレスという空港から香港島を約30分で結ぶ高速鉄道に乗り込み、なんだかんだと喋ってる間に香港駅に到着。ホテルからの迎えのバスに乗り込み、チェックイン。その後ホテルにサンタモニカと日高村から事前に輸送していた資材を受け取り、タクシーにて会場のシティセンターへ。会場の設営時間ギリギリまで3人で汗だくになりながら、設営。その後香港海防博物館にてウエルカムレセプション。様々な国から参加された方々との交流を楽しんだ。

In such a world leading tourist city, it is said that the IIC Congress is held once in two years. Of course, the origin of this information is Ms. Hiromi of Hiromi Paper. That was the early summer of the last year. “Why don’t you join us in our booth at AIC San Francisco and IIC Hong Kong next year.” Although that was the first time for us to have some business conversations, she gave us such a wonderful offer to our company. “YES, please let us join your booth.” I answered immediately. After our first joint presentation success in AIC San Francisco, we headed to Hong Kong in order to do a better presentation. Hiromi, Ms. Igarashi, and I joined together at the Hong Kong International airport, and headed to Hong Kong Island. It took us about half an hour to get to the Hong Kong station by high speed railway called “Airport Express”. We took a hotel shuttle bus to our hotel to check in and pick up our paper materials. As soon as we got the stuff, we jumped back to the Hong Kong City Hall where the congress was held. We built and set our booth until they closed the exhibition room. Then, we moved to the Hong Kong Museum of Coastal Defence to join the welcome reception, and enjoyed conversations with visitors from all over the world.

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 レセプション会場にて本番前のリラックスタイム。Relax time at reception.

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翌朝。事前のブースチェックと最終調整の為、少し早めにホテルを出発。ラフな運転で有名な(?)バスにて会場に到着。

In the next morning, we left our hotel a little early to check our booth. We safely arrived at the city hall by taking the infamous “rough” bus.

準備を終え、会場の他出店業者さんへの挨拶をひと通り済ませる頃に学会は休憩時間に突入。会場に人が雪崩れ込むや否や、ヒロミペーパーのブースは黒山の人だかり。ブースに人が入りきれず、三人はサンプル出しや、対応に大わらわ。

ヒロミペーパーが提案する修復用の和紙とグッズは会場でも別格の注目度!

After we finished setting up and making rounds to the other exhibitors, refreshment time has come. As soon as people rushed into the exhibitor’s room, our booth was filled with so many people that even we could not answer every one of them.

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 寛美さんは日本からこられた懐かしい方々との嬉しい再会も!

Hiromi met some old friends from Japan!

そんな大変忙しい4日間を過ごし、様々な国の方々とのコミュニケーションを楽しみ、和紙に関する貴重なご意見を伺う事ができた。この経験を活かし、今後はより分かりやすく、魅力的な展示を行いたいと思う所存だ。ヒロミペーパーさんには、このような素晴らしく、貴重な経験をさせて頂き、本当に感謝しています。有難うございました。今回吸収したリクエストや、情報を次回の地元ロスアンゼルス大会にて昇華させたいと思ってます。

After a busy 4 days, we enjoyed conversations with many customers from all over the world, and received valuable suggestions about Japanese Paper. Taking advantage of this experience, I intend to give more appealing and clarified presentations at future conferences. Finally, I thank Hiromi Paper for giving me such a wonderful opportunity. I will work harder at the next Los Angels Congress in 2016.

Thank you to Chinzei-san of Hidaka Washi for the IIC 2014 update! It sounded like an amazing conference, we look forward to 2016!

Larry Bell: custom-made papers

Last week, we delivered special ordered papers to artist Larry Bell, and saw his new studio space!

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Larry, with his new work on red Japanese papers

These thick papers were dyed especially for Larry, by a papermaker in Fukui, Japan.

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His beautiful new studio space!

Feel free to contact us about custom sizes or colors of papers!

Pam Posey: “Ungrounded”

Pam Posey
@ Craig Krull Gallery

March 1 – April 5, 2014

Pam Posey is a Los Angeles-based artist whose paintings draw from and reinterpret nature.
Her recent solo exhibition at Craig Krull Gallery features a large scale linoleum print on Kawashi paper.

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“Traced and Remembered” Linoleum prints on Kawashi

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Pam Posey became interested in stones while making paintings of the plants that were growing out of little holes in her driveway. Her gaze was soon diverted to the concrete itself and the realization that it was composed of millions of tiny stones. She began to see stones as molecules that were everywhere, and understood that each stone contained the history of its own creation. This led to a series of small stone paintings. Then, in the summer of 2012, Posey spent 5 weeks at the Nes Artists Residence in Iceland, and then returned again in March of 2013. It was there that she began the Stone Dislocation project. In her travels, Posey transports stones, carrying a white quartz rock from a Greek island to a black lava field in Iceland. Her exhibition at Craig Krull Gallery contains the evidence of her geologic displacements in the form paintings and hand-drawn maps. Posey revels in the Zen irony of an act so purposeful, yet so purposeless. She is echoing Michael Heizer’s Double Negative, but on a smaller, and at the same time more global, scale. In addition to displacement and replacement, her small gestures are also about re-contextualization and the wonder created when finding something out of its place. (Craig Krull Gallery, 2014)

Stripping of Kozo Bark Workshop

On January 18, 2012, a mini workshop of kozo bark stripping was taken place at Tosa Washi Kogeimura (Arts and Crafts Village) in Ino Machi of Kochi Prefecture.

Kozo is the main fiber used to make washi; the bark that is used in 70% of washi made today. These kozo trees are cut down every winter to make the fibers and soon after, the plant will grow new buds, sprouting vibrant green leaves in the summertime, and will again be ready to harvest by next winter. This is one of the reasons that washi is considered to be eco-friendly.

Continue reading “Stripping of Kozo Bark Workshop”