Washi Memo Pad

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This card is definitely one of my favorite cards to make. Very simple, and the beauty of washi simply makes the card perfect to send for a special (or any!) occasion. This card was made with one of our spring papers, but I really think cards made with any of the washi patterns would be wonderful!

Have one sheet of our 8 1/2×11″ washi and one of your favorite cardstock (8 1/2 x 11″)), one strand of mizuhiki cord (about 12 inches long) ready. Also, keep your favorite craft tools of double stick tape, glue dots, scissors, and paper cutter handy.

TIP: Picking up similar colors silk screened on the washi for your cardstock and mizuhiki cord is a GREAT way to coordinate colors for the card. I chose ivory cardstock, but I also could’ve picked a light peach, light olive or even a navy….it would all still “work”, but give a different effect.

Card #1 – love the simplicity – the beauty of washi says it all….
  • To start, cut the washi lengthwise, 5 1/4” x 10 1/2”
  • Cut the cardstock lengthwise, 5 1/2” x 11”
  • Tri fold the cardstock, leaving about 1” margin
  • Take the unfolded straight edge of the washi, and adhere to the inside flap of the cardstock, leaving about 1/4” margin.
  • Wrap washi around the cardstock

Ta Da~! All done!

Hope you liked making this card! If you don’t mind, post your creation on our FB posting – I would love to see them!

Send one of your creations to a family member, friend, teacher or acquaintance to let them know you are thinking about them….how special to connect or re-connect in this way….!

“Talk” to you again soon!

I hope you are all doing well… Although we are in some unprecedented times, I know we can all ride this one out together… I hope you have found something fun to do while staying at home…whether it be your favorite craft or playing an instrument, cooking or baking, reading and watching movies….anything to make you smile.

Just before the March Carson show, our spring washi papers arrived from Japan. Most of the time, I barely have time to play with any of the papers that come in but this shipment is definitely an exception….I’ve had a lot of time and fun to play around with the new papers. Inspired from one my favorite Japanese handmade card companies, Monku House, I made several cards…

I am drawn to simple designs….straight lines and a simple accent. I feel like the beauty of washi should speak for itself. I pick up the colors of the silk screened designs for the background card stock and accents. I almost always layer with metallic gold since so many of the washi papers are also silk screened with gold or silver.

Here are some photos of what I made recently…hope you like them…the designs are simple, and quick to make (which is ideal for me!)

An iPhone holder made from an old cassette tape case…..I covered the outside panels too…

Stay healthy and safe, everybody…. keep crafting- you deserve to smile!!!

This past trip to Tokyo was quite short, so I wasn’t sure if I would be able to visit stores in Tokyo. I did manage to go to my all time favorite, ITOYA, in Ginza and also check out SEKAIDO, a first visit for me.

I think I wrote about ITOYA in a previous blog, but here are my recent purchases from the store…. I always get some of the most beautiful handmade cards using washi at ITOYA, made mostly by a company called Monku House. I think I showed these on the Hanko FB page also….

I just love how they arrange the washi – very simple lines but so elegant….. They embellish with one main element (crane, fan, etc) and use mizuhiki cords to complete the card design. ITOYA is always a must visit for me each time I go – they change their product line to reflect the seasons, and companies that create with washi make it a point to get in and display their products at this store.

The other store that I went to, is called SEKAIDO, in Shinjuku. This is truly a full supply art store, catering to all different types of artists.

If craft supplies is what you are looking for, the selection is limited, but if you are in the market for paint supplies, other fine arts supplies, and writing supplies (calligraphy) SEKAIDO is a jackpot. I managed to peruse the aisles for couple of hours, just to see what was available. Good thing I didn’t need any art supplies….phew….

I really wanted to visit another store called OZUWASHI in Nihonbashi but I just couldn’t squeeze in a visit. This store is suppose to be a washi landmark….they have one hour washi making classes (need to sign up) for about $5. Definitely next time…. If you are in Tokyo and are looking for washi, I hear this is the place to check out….

Just a quick blog this time around….hope you enjoyed it.

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….


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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A trip to Tokyo is always a treat, whether be it for work or pleasure, but this particular recent trip was extra special for me…. The power of the internet enabled me to find craft classes that just so happened to coincide with the dates of my visit… The first class was an intro to metallic leafing technique called “HAKU.” It was a gold/silver leafing class, where the sheets of metallic leafs are sifted to add embellishment or to create artwork.

But even before I get into the class, I MUST share pictures of this amazing store, PIGMENT…..I’ve never seen anything like this. I felt like I walked into a museum as well as a retail store. It was designed by a famous Japanese architect , Kengo Kuma, and it is a store that primarily sells Japanese pigment used in traditional Japanese paintings. The store offers other product lines (like metallic leafs) and workshops. Some classes are offered in English as well, at an additional cost.

The hundreds of bottles of pigment along the wall is sight to see…! It was simply stunning. And, I have to say the bamboo ceiling gives the store a traditional Japanese feel, despite the modern displays.

The workshop took place in an open classroom, right in the store. Customers were curious with our projects and seemed to want to learn the technique as well. It simply was so much fun. We used a “sunako tsu tsu” which is a type of sifter, made of bamboo. We also used the traditional adhesive, and handmade Japanese brushes. My teacher has her doctorate from Kyoto University in Japanese Arts, so she was able to share a lot of history and technique in the short two hours that we had. We learned how to handle the delicate sheets of leaf, how to work with the glue and brush, and three leafing techniques. Needless to say, time passed way to quickly. We probably could’ve stayed there all afternoon….

The last picture is that of the project, courtesy of PIGMENT. I hope to participate in more classes in the future and if you ever have a chance, check this store out if you visit Tokyo. Their website is Pigment.Tokyo…..

More postings about my recent trip to Tokyo to come soon…. !

I made some thank you cards with washi borders…. I had a little time so I played with some resin crafts and found that it works really well with washi paper. I used some silicon molds, a few other elements and created some accents that I thought would go well with the washi cards…. it was so much fun! And…. I definitely need more time to create!

I had a chance to play with some Mizuhiki recently, and found that variations can be created with core or basic knots/designs. This is the awaji design, which is as basic as it gets, but by tugging one of the loops and spreading the cords a little, it gives the basic knot a fancy variation – So much fun!-

Awaji musubi….

Variations of top loop of awaji musubi…..

Variations of left loop ….

My wonderful supplier in Japan sent me some amazing samples of mizuhiki embellishments….they worked with a mizuhiki artisan to create these elements that could be adhered to a notecard. I’m still working on pricing, but we’re hoping they can join our line of products.

I can only work basic knots, so I truly appreciate the art form of these elements and the expertise of the artisans.

Mizuhiki is a Japanese paper cord / craft dated back to the 7th century. It is a strong, thin twine made from ‘washi’, which is made from the inner bark of the kozo, gampi and mitsumata bushes. The cord was used in various ways, from securing the hair in a Japanese samurai topknot, to ornamental uses for gifts. The original colors were only red and white but there are hundreds of shades and textures today. There are mizuhiki ‘sculptures’ in Japan which are beyond amazing. Most artwork is made for celebrations.

For our purposes, however, we introduced it as an accent or accessory to a handmade card. Pretty amazing craft…..

This picture is from one of my favorite Japanese mizuhiki books written by Nana Kikuta.

Here are my attempts at mizuhiki knotting…..I definitely need a lot more practice!

The cherry blossom trees in Japan are world famous and magnificent in more ways than one. They are such an integral part of the Japanese culture and each year, we get to experience the significance of these blossoms while viewing, tasting, and celebrating… My family and I were lucky enough to go during spring break this year and caught the tail end of the cherry blossom season which arrived one week early…. Here are a few pics of how ‘sakura’ (cherry blossoms) are infused and woven into the everyday lives of the Japanese…..

From the top : Sakura branches and torii (gate of a shrine) as part of a hotel lobby decoration, Sakura drink, Sakura soft ice cream, and the blossoms as part of a landscape of a national treasure…

Needless to say, the blossoms are stunnng. Products in the stores feature everything and anything pink and Sakura shaped…one can only feel that spring has arrived when these blossoms embrace you.

In our business, cherry blossoms appear on so many of our washi papers…. the craftsmen who design and silkscreen the papers are inspired by seasonal symbols like the sakura. Here are a few packets and a card that I found at one of my favorite stationery stores in Tokyo – ITOYA.

LOVE those cherry blossoms!!

These cards use the length of the washi paper we sell, and it folds and overlaps (but leaves 1/2″ from the edge).  The top corner is folded back in an angle, and I layered with gold paper to add a dimension to the folded edge. Accent with a mizuhiki half knot….

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