A couple weeks ago I had the opportunity to go to a talk about Japanese paper at the local art store. Nancy from the Japanese Paper Place shared her love of Japanese paper and wealth of knowledge with us in a most pleasant evening!
In the body of the talk Nancy showed slides of her latest trip to Japan. She visited a few different paper makers and took pictures of the many parts of the process. The paper she "followed" is made from kozo, a plant that is grown in Japan as a crop (with paper making in mind) and is completely renewable. The paper making process is quite involved: growing, harvesting, steaming, stripping (of bark!), soaking, cooking, pounding, picking (out stray bits) and finally dipping the screen into the vat of pulp to create a sheet of paper.
Some of the interesting qualities I learned about quality Japanese paper is that the thinnest paper is usually the best quality- although it has a similar weight to tissue paper this paper can stand up to quite heavy use. Also great paper is still great when wet.
forgot didn't even think to take my camera so I wasn't able to take pictures of the many pieces of art Nancy had displayed. My favourite piece was a small drawstring bag made out of chiyogami paper. The paper had been treated with komyaku (a sealer) and sewn like fabric!
I was so excited to get a sample pack of paper to bring home to play with! Nancy gave suggestions on how each paper could be used, drawing, painting, batik, crumpling, printing, sewing, etc.
If you're interested to learn more head over to the Japanese Paper Place website, they have lots of information and inspiration there!