Making Japanese Traditional Paper

This is both a DIY and a photoshop experiment for me. I went to Shikoku and saw how traditional paper is made and how the technique has progressed since ancient times. Then made some paper the traditional way! Perhaps my designs weren’t all totally “traditional” but I must say I enjoyed it. I also enjoyed doing some photo manipulation of the products.

The method used to make the paper is simple. First you choose a size, you are given a wooden frame of that size with a mesh cover. You dip this frame into a vat of pulp and water, and lift straight up. Water goes through the mesh while the paper pulp is caught on it and, surprisingly, makes a pretty even coating with no interference.
You tap the frame to get out more water, then move on to the decoration phase.  I laid some leaves over two of my frames, I used dye on one, and laid colored paper on the other.

If you want to have a solid object like a leaf on the paper, you add a bit more pulp after putting it on.  This way it is “inside” the finished paper and doesn’t fall off.

After decorating, the pulp is pressed flat to push out more water and give it a solid feeling.  (up until this point it really just feels like slimey tissue paper floating in water)

Once enough water has been pushed out, the frame can be turned over on a flat surface and the damp “paper” will come off in one piece.  The paper is further pressed on a huge hot iron surface, and the rest of the water evaporates as it is further flattened.

Remove your finished paper from the iron’s surface, and you have a traditional washi paper!

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