Washi paper-Great material for pop up cards and craft.

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If you are looking for a material that looks traditional but still luxury with a variety of vivid color to add into your pop up cards, why don’t you take a look at Washi paper, a Japanese traditional paper that feels like cotton. Many origami player knows this type, but in fact, it can be used in other ways.

Washi is generally tougher than ordinary paper made from wood pulp, and is used in many traditional arts. Origami, Shodo, and Ukiyo-ewere all produced using washi. Washi was also used to make various everyday goods like clothes, household goods, and toys as well as vestments and ritual objects for Shinto priests and statues of Buddha. It was even used to make wreaths that were given to winners in the1998 Winter Paralympics. Several kinds of washi, referred to collectively as Japanese tissue, are used in the conservation and mending of books.

1, Origin

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Washi (和紙) is a style of paper that was first made in Japan. Washi is commonly made using fibers from the bark of the gampi tree, themitsumata shrub (Edgeworthia chrysantha), or the paper mulberry, but also can be made using bamboo, hemp, rice, and wheat. The word “washi” comes from wa ‘Japanese’ and shi ‘paper’, and the term is used to describe paper made by hand in the traditional manner. Washi is one of the UNESCO’s Intangible cultural heritage objects.

2, Production process

Washi is produced in a way similar to that of ordinary paper, but fewer chemicals are used. It involves a long and intricate process that is often undertaken in the cold weather of winter, as pure, cold running water is essential to the production of washi. Cold inhibits bacteria, preventing the decomposition of the fibers. Cold also makes the fibers contract, producing a crisp feel to the paper. It is traditionally the winter work of farmers, a task that supplemented a farmer’s income.

Kozo is the most commonly used fiber in making Japanese paper. The kozo branches are boiled and stripped of their outer bark, and then dried. The fibers are then boiled withlye to remove the starch, fat and tannin, and then placed in running water to remove the lye. The fibers are then bleached (either with chemicals or naturally, by placing it in a protected area of a stream) and any remaining impurities in the fibers are picked out by hand. The kozo is laid on a rock or board and beaten.

Wet balls of pulp are mixed in a vat with water (and, in some cases, neri, which is a mucilaginous material made from the roots of the tororo plant) and one of two traditional methods of paper making (nagashi-zuki or tame-zuki) is employed. In both methods, pulp is scooped onto a screen and shaken to spread the fibers evenly. Nagashi-zuki (which uses neri in the vat) produces a thinner paper, while tame-zuki (which does not use neri) produces a thicker paper.

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3, Characteristic

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Warmth. Literally warmer to the touch than Western papers made of woodpulp, washi feels soft and creates a feeling of warmth in the viewer. Its tactile qualities make it wonderful for invitations and books.

Body. Since the fibres are left long and pounded and stretched rather than chopped, washi has a deceptive strength. Pure-fibred washi can even be sewn and was used for armour and kimono-lining in earlier times.

Strength. The length of the fibres and the nature of the raw materials ensure that washi is highly workable when wet. Thus it is excellent for papier maché, and etching in which the paper must be soaked. These long fibres produce a luxurious deckle edge, the rough edge which marks a handmade paper.

Soft translucency. Kozo and mitsumata are naturally translucent fibres, a quality specific to paper from the East. As such, it is used regularly for the transmission of light.

Absorbency. The nature of the fibres creates a ready absorption of inks and dyes. Papers that are “pure fibred” and dyed will result in much denser and more vibrant colour when fabric or watercolour dyes are applied.

Flexibility. Since the fibres position themselves at random, there is no real grain to washi. This gives the paper a resistance to creasing, wrinkling and tearing – and means it can be used more like cloth, for covering books, or boxes etc.

Lightness. Washi weighs much less than other papers of equal thickness. As a paper for books, it can create texts of apparent weightlessness.

Low acidity. Traditionally-made Japanese papers are truly acid-free if they are unbleached and unsized. Examples of printed papers exist in perfect condition in Japan from 1000 years ago. Today, papers from the village of Kurotani are among the finest archival papers.

Decoration. For centuries, colourful designs applied by woodblock or handcut stencils have created vividly characteristic papers, for decorative use. Recently, silkscreened chiyogami (small repeated-patterned paper) is available in an unbelievable range and widely used by craftspeople. Although made by machine, the quality available is about 70% kozo and comes in hundreds of patterns.

These features bring washi advantage in decoration, especially in superfluity product where colorfulness is necessary.

 

4, Application/Usage

Until the early 20th century, the Japanese used washi in applications where wood pulp paper or other materials are currently used. This is partly because washi was cheaper, but also because the unique characteristics of washi made it a better material. The different uses of washi are too numerous to mention, but include the following:

  • Ikebana — the art of flower arrangement, also known as kadō

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  • Katazome — a method of dyeing fabrics using a resist paste

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  • Kitemaking
  • Origami — the art of paper folding

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  • Printmaking

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  • Sculpture
  • Sewing
  • Shibori — several methods of dyeing cloth with a pattern
  • Shodo — the art of calligraphy
  • Sumi-e — the art of Ink wash painting
  • Sumingashi — a form of paper marbling
  • Ukiyo-e — a genre of woodblock prints
  • Washi eggs — covering eggs with washi paper
  • Chigirie  – using Washi for “painting” pictures
  • More than that, pop-up cards which is usually monotone, can make use of this traditional paper to bring an abundance of color and material, make pop up cards more vivid and close to real life
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