04 November 2011

Paper love: Japanese Katazome-shi

Katazome-shi means, literally, stencil-dyed papers (also referred to as Wazome). Based on traditional kimono-printing techniques, these beautifully patterned papers were developed in the 20th century. Producing these special papers is extremely time-consuming and a true art.

Katagami, the Japanese art of making paper stencils, is utilized to cut the pattern from persimmon-dyed kozo (a plant used to make Japanese tissue). The paper is hand cut with a combination of knives and punches and the resulting patterns are often extremely intricate and consequently quite fragile. To stabilize the stencils and prevent them from tearing, a fine silk mesh is attached to the back. The stencil is placed over a sheet of washi (which I always thought was rice paper, but Wikipedia tells me is any traditionally made plant-based paper) and a paste resist is brushed through the stencil to define the pattern.

Wherever the paste sticks to the paper, it will resist, or prevent, any colour that is subsequently applied. Multiple alignments of the stencil are made with different colours of pigment applied at each stage. The pigments are allowed to dry thoroughly and the paste is washed off, allowing the beauty and craftsmanship to be revealed.

This labour-intensive process results in a paper that has timeless appeal, long-lasting vibrant colour and the unmistakable look of a print truly made by hand.

There's a wee bit of Katazome-shi in this little paper pack in the RaineCloud store. Whats your favourite specialty paper? 

Info via The Paper Place. Image credits 1 2 3 (via here), 4

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