Washi Memo Pad

Traditional Japanese Paper Layering

Posted on: January 8, 2020

The other class that I took in Tokyo was a traditional Japanese paper layering class. The Japanese name for this craft is OCHO (pronounced with a long O) TSUGIGAMI (paper layering/joining). We created two greeting cards in this class.

This technique is almost 1000 years old and was started by the aristocracy during the middle of the Heian period (12th century). The Heian period is known to be equated to the “Renaissance period” of Japan, and the aristocrats supported the arts which flourished during this time period. The history and detailed background of this art is available in English via this link below – I hope you will have a chance to check it out….

http://jpclassic.art.coocan.jp/menu051.html

The class was mixed with people of varying experience – totally new (like me), to students who studied for years. The teacher, Mrs. Iwanabe, had decades of craft under her belt, and also belonged to the OCHO TSUGIGAMI KENKYUU KAI (Research Association). I learned so much from Mrs. Iwanabe and she also gave me a history lesson of the art, which certainly enabled me to appreciate it more.

Here are some pics of the class and project….

The kit included patterns (traced onto vellum), sheets of KARAKAMI washi (pearl pattern on white washi paper), solid sheets and patterned washi paper, and cardstock.

We ‘punched’ holes using the handpick (ME-UCHI) along the solid lines and created a perforation on the paper. The pieces were then gently torn, along the perforation. This was done purposely to expose the fibers of the washi paper, instead of having a clean cut (like with scissors or razor).

More punching/perforation with the various pieces……

Here are some of the pieces “torn” out…..next is layering with an adhesive….

I brushed some adhesive (thin layer of wet glue that dries transparent) onto the pieces and arranged and layered according to the pattern…. The layered sheet became the inside of the card…. The Japanese would then brush calligraphy on the layered sheet (invitation, poem, etc. etc.)….

Some of these pics are from a book which show craftwork using this technique. Pretty impressive and stunning…..

In this picture, I’m experimenting with silkscreened, decorative washi paper that we all love to use for card making…..I wonder how it will translate….?

Needless to say, this was such an invaluable experience for me. I’m trying to see how we could adopt this technique here in the U.S….. I’m working with my suppliers to see if we could import the special papers used in OCHO TSUGIGAMI, and adapt it to handmade card-making…. Stay tuned!!!!

Hope you enjoyed this post!

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