An Examination of the Legacy and Archives of the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition, a book by Hans Baumann

This month, we hear from artist Hans Baumann who was commissioned by The ONWARD Project to research the archives of the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition, eventually binding the found knowledge into a single edition handmade art book.

This project – titled “An Examination of the Legacy and Archives of the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition” – is the culmination of an approximately 18-month period in 2019 and 2020 studying the archives of the Rainbow Bridge-Monument Valley Expedition (RBMVE). It was commissioned by The ONWARD Project, a nonprofit that (in their own words) “inspires new understandings of history and place in the American Southwest.”

In addition to the material held by The ONWARD Project, I had the opportunity to visit the RBMVE archives at UCLA, as well as archaeological sites in Tsegi Canyon – specifically Bat Woman House and Twin Caves.

The project is structured around my interactions with these data and places in the present day, and I use the format of a handmade art book to attempt to contextualize the legacy of the Expedition from my (contemporary) perspective as an artist with a deep interest in the land.

In an attempt to make this document of interest to the specialist, I include transcribed interviews with various academics, archaeologists and media specialists and use our exchanges to guide my historical inquiry.

All materials for this project – paper, inks, binding, clay – are archival quality. This was my initial criteria for any material selection, as it is critical that this book be durable and have a viable trajectory (as an object) into the future. It is intended to communicate with generations beyond our own. Beyond this, I wanted the book to evoke the subject matter that it addresses.

Not only did I want it to feel “of” the archive, I wanted it to combine the colors and textures of Tsegi Canyon, as well as the grand transit of time that the book’s text addresses. The book’s enclosure is a ceramic slipcase and I went through an extended process of experimenting with various additives and finishes such that the ceramic feels somewhere between red Navajo sandstone and the many fractured and eroded potsherds found throughout the Canyon.

The book is bound in a post and screw style with nickel hardware and uses an undyed, half linen, half cotton book cloth, and the endsheets use an Amate paper made by Otomi craftsmen in Central Mexico.

detail of Amate paper (pinto)
sheep’s wool drying in the Tsegi Canyon

This paper was chosen because its ivory and walnut tones call to mind the stacks of undyed sheep’s wool that can be seen drying on racks outside homes in Tsegi Canyon. This is a very specific and personal memory, but also a visual reference point that many others will have if they have been to the Canyon during shearing season.

The interior pages of the book use two types of paper. An acetate film is used when overlays are needed. Otherwise, I use a pure white Asuka paper from Japan.

I spent several weeks finding this paper, as I wanted to use something that would hold an image well but also be a pleasure to touch and to turn. Every archival quality Western paper that I encountered failed to meet all of these criteria, and I eventually chose this midweight washi paper for its distinct paper grain, its unobtrusive but pleasant texture and its ability to accept printed images with no bleeding or image degradation.

Hans’s book in its slab box slip case

I would like to give special thanks to the Littlesalt and Austin families for allowing me to visit Tsegi Canyon. I would also like to thank Elizabeth Kahn, Madi Fair, Allison Fischer Olson, Ron Maldonado and Marydee and Chris Donnan for their time and assistance with the research component of this project, and to Prof. Snead, Eric Hanson and Andy Christenson for time and consideration throughout the interview process. Thanks to Joel Freeman for his assistance throughout the project. Additional thanks to Wendy Teeter and Sedonna Goeman-Shulsky for their generosity, patience and expertise as I explored the RBMVE archives at UCLA.

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: 

Jon Shimizu: Book project using Asuka inkjet papers

Art student Jon Shimizu shared with us his experience printing on the inkjet Asuka papers for his book project, and how much he loved working with them. Below is Jon’s artist statement. Thank you, Jon!

(We always appreciate any feedback about the papers, so please let us know!)

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Continue reading “Jon Shimizu: Book project using Asuka inkjet papers”

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”

Rembrandt’s Etchings and Echizen Paper

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Sugihara-san and Fukui paper makers attended the opening of the much anticipated exhibition: Rembrandt’s Etchings and Japanese Echizen paper at the Rembrandt House Museum!

The exhibition will be open to the public until September 20th, 2015.

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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.

IMG_3889 Continue reading “Rembrandt’s Etchings and Echizen Paper”

Rembrandt and Gampi by Bruce Meade

Rembrandt and Gampi  Written By: Bruce Meade rembrandt 1 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”

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.

From Japan: All-Japan Handmade Washi Association

50 Years of the All-Japan Handmade Washi Association

by Satoshi Hasegawa/Translated by Yuki Katayama

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Mino papermaker Satoshi Hasegawa in his early years

The All Japan Handmade Washi Association is an organization constructed of Japanese papermakers from around the country. Established in 1963, this group has acted as a prime spot for information exchange for 50 years. Though our activities and members have decreased since establishment, the association is still striving to preserve handmade washi.

Back in March, we all gathered to look back on the past 50 years. We were surprised to realize that many of the past records and documents had not been organized or even stored, so there was almost no records of the first 25 years of association activity. There was one individual we came across while organizing data that caught my attention. From the documents I could tell that he was a very devout ‘washi-lover’, who put much effort into succeeding the washi traditions to further generations.

He also greatly contributed to Hon Mino paper being chosen as an Important Intangible Cultural Asset, stating that “We must make (Hon Mino) an Intangible Cultural Asset, before we lose the paper forever”.

I feel that these countless efforts from past individuals is one of the main reasons handmade washi has survived for all these years.

Handmade washi has been proposed to UNESCO for their Intangible Cultural Heritage candidate as “Traditional Japanese washi”, but there are many existing problems in washi production and well as succeeding the traditions.

I wonder what the dedicated, washi-loving individual would say about the current situation of handmade washi. Though I can never meet him, I can’t help but want to exchange thoughts and ideas with him.

From Hiromi Paper:
Like Hasegawa-san, we at Hiromi Paper are also concerned about the decrease in papermakers that are able to make high-quality washi. We hope that we can be of help to those Japanese papermakers and preserve their traditions.

Thank you, Hasegawa-san, for always sending us your lovely and wonderful Mino papers!
See them here: HP-01 Hon Mino, HP-02 Usu Mino, HP-04 Usu Mino Thin, HP-05 Chochin, HM-54 Usu Mino Thinnest.