Hello everyone.  Welcome to Paper Demon, my blog about Japan-inspired wearable art.  I am a jewelry artist who works mostly in Japanese traditional handmade mulberry paper, or “washi.”    My jewelry and art are all about  transforming the large sheets of washi that I get from papermakers in Japan,  into tiny jewels that sparkle and gleam and flutter on the body.

Origami Leaf Earrings

I’ve been collecting Japanese washi and working with washi since my first trip to Japan in 1985, when I lived in a small town that was blessed with an old and esteemed washi shop, WashiYakata Shimayu.  It was run by a man and wife who were accomplished paper artists.  They were kind and generous enough to share their love of washi and their art with the young curious foreigner who lurked endlessly at their shop.   There is nothing like a real, old-fashioned washi shop. The mind-blowing colors, the feel–smooth, rough, knobby, fibrous, silk-like, tissuey–of the different kinds of washi, and above all, the indescribable smell… these fascinated me then and fascinate me still.

Washi Pendants

I first learned to make traditional three-dimensional paper dolls, with their layers upon layers of washi kimono, their flamboyant obi, and their exotic hairstyles.

One of my earliest washi creations, from 1986

But now, I want to share the appeal of washi with a wider world. I want to make its extraordinary colors and tantalizing patterns, that somehow mysteriously combine the ancient with the ultra-modern, wearable in an easy and accessible way.

By experimenting with various weights of paper and acrylic sealer, I found a way to transform paper into lasting, durable jewelry.

I’ll soon be posting photos of my work–origami earrings in the shape of cranes, flowers, leaves, and butterflies, and glass and paper pendants.  All accented with swarovski crystal and pearls.

I also do artwork–three dimensional mounted origami masks based on traditional Japanese masks from theater and folklore–that are mounted in shadow boxes or Japanese mounting boards.

Lion Dance Mask

What I love most is bringing a modern aesthetic to this most traditional of materials.  I find the colors that work best with current trends–right now, for example, browns and aquas, purples and lime greens–and highlight the highly stylized, geometric, often assymetrical patterns of washi, to create jewelry that instantly attracts the eye.

Geometric patterns in washi jewelry

I look forward to sharing my love of washi and my different experiments in washi jewelry and art with all of you.  I also look forward to sharing about my annual trips to Japan and excursions to the temple flea markets and antique shows there.   Stay tuned! Thanks for reading.