I’ve been working with Japanese washi paper since 1985, when I lived in a little Japanese mountain town and stumbled upon a washi paper store run by an elderly man and his wife, both accomplished traditional paper artists. They took pity on the hapless young foreigner constantly haunting their store, and kindly invited me to learn the techniques of Japanese paper arts. I’ve been hooked ever since! I went on to get a Ph.D. in cultural anthropology of Japan, and have a long career as a professor of Japan Studies. But that whole time I continued doing my Japanese paper art, both for 5 years in Japan, and in Hawai’i, Illinois, and Oregon.
I have made my own paper using traditional Japanese techniques, and I’ve made cards, postcards, chigiri-e art (where you gently tear gossamer thin unryu tissue paper into pieces and combine to make flowers images), kiri-e art (where you precision cut washi paper into sillhouette designs), origami, three dimensional doll-making, and many other Japanese crafts.
But my main love is the paper itself, and my frustration was always in how to make this gorgeous stuff available to people to enjoy on a daily basis—it’s too beautiful to just keep in a closet, or on a wall! That’s when I came up with the idea of making jewelry!
A lot of talented folks out there use chiyogami (patterned) washi behind glass or resin to make pretty, simple pendants. That is fun! But what I love about washi is its combination of strengh and delicacy—it can be sculpted into any shape, wire wrapped, embellished, but always keeps its gossamer-like delicacy.
That’s the inspiration behind Paper Demon Jewelry! And now we’re branching out into recycled paper too!
I spend every day thinking about new ways to use paper, creating, thinking, and enjoying life with my wonderful partner and two kids and rabbit in lovely, crafty, artsy, unique Eugene, Oregon.