One of the most wonderful things about washi paper is its combination of strength and delicacy.  The mulberry, hemp, and other fibers that it’s made from make it like fabric—it can be molded, sculpted, folded, wrapped and manipulated like fabric, without losing its wonderful color and shape.

At the same time, there is nothing as fine, as delicate, as washi.  That’s why it’s used by so many interior designers for lighting.  It is always translucent, and light passes through it with a soft glow.

SeaSpiral Washi and Copper Wire Pendant

My latest experiments in jewelry are inspired by these qualities of washi.  Patterned washi is made by superimposing a gossamer thin color/pattern layer over a slightly heavier fiber layer.  I’ve been developing a new method to separate these two layers, and then **ever so delicately** transferring the color layer onto a wire structure, to make a kind of stained glass piece.  My first finished piece is called “SeaSpiral”—it’s inspired by the colors of the rocky sand of the Oregon coast.I love that it’s translucent like stained glass.

Light shining through washi stained glass

There is only one kind of washi paper that can be used for this technique–chirimen washi, which is the most fabric like of all washi.    I also love to use the tissue-like Unryu washi as well, but that is always in solid colors.  The cool thing about chirimen washi is that it comes in amazing patterns.

Some examples of chirimen washi

Looks like I need to pick up more of this on my next trip to Japan!

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