Wonderful Washi


This fall I’ve been inspired by Mura-zome washi.  There are hundreds of varieties of Japanese washi paper, and each and every one has its own beauty.

But, I have a particular weakness for mura-zome.  Mura-zome is a traditional tie-dye paper in colors that are mind-blowingly vibrant and, to my eye, modern.

It has a cloth-like look and a stained glass look and a look that is all its own.  Here is a screen shot of a few colors from the online shop Kura-washi.com:

 

The beauty of mura-zome washi

 

I started the fall entranced by fiery oranges.

 

Mura-zome paper art pendant

 

But I’ve recently moved on to greens, in this new piece, “Modern Medieval Medallion.”

 

Modern medieval medallion choker on copper

 

I adore the cloudy mystery of the green encircled by copper.  I could see Merlin wearing this, or better yet Morgan La Fay!

My challenge as a jewelry maker is remembering that sometimes my materials can speak for themselves.  I can get so caught up in the challenge of folding something fabulous or winding wire into interesting shapes that sometimes I forget that just showing the paper is all that’s really necessary.

I finally remembered that this week, and decided to try a few simple styles with my most beautiful chiyogami in simple basic frames.

The frames came from Fusion Beads, my favorite source for collage and resin blanks.  I tried antiqued silver and brass for this project, because I think the aged look sets off the organic, exotic feel of the Japanese paper beautifully.

The paper is my best and favorite–in glorious shades of teal and turquoise, orange and yellow, and iridescent silver and gold (a one of a kind paper that i’ve never seen outside the shop in Asakusabashi where i found it last summer).

The biggest challenge is, for me, always the resin.  I know there are loads of crafters out there making all kinds of gorgeous things with resin, but for me, it’s torture.  I make 4 things before 1 works.  It’s a nightmare.  But then, when it works, it’s gorgeous!  What to do?  it’s a conundrum.

Well, at least til I found Magic Glos, a UV-curing resin.  One part, so no mixing, and a 30 minute cure under a UV light (or sunlight) instead of 3 miserable days with resin.  For ADHD jewelry makers like me, this is a godsend.  Here it is on brass.  What do you think?

You love giving gifts, but you hate wrapping gifts.  I get that.  Wrapping gifts is stressful.

That’s where I come in.  I wrap your gifts for you.  I send you hand-folded Japanese jewelry boxes, hand-folded Japanese gift boxes, and hand-folded Japanese gift bags.  All created using traditional origami box folds, and all made from eye-poppingly gorgeous imported Japanese chiyogami paper.  Lacquered jewelry boxes also available.

The PDJ Hand-Folded Origami Gift Bag with Japanese Bead Zipper Pull Extra

Two of the sizes available--2 inch and 4.5 inch

The flat box--6 inches; other sizes available.

And all complete with coordinating ribbons and handles, and optional Japanese imported cute doo-dads for customization.  Custom size orders also gladly accepted!

The PDJ Heirloom Gift Bag is like enclosing your gift in another one of a kind gift.   I start with heirloom quality chiyogami paper.  Each of these papers comes with a story.  All chiyogami papers are replete with history and symbolism.  This paper in the photo, for example, is the Hinadan Pattern.  It is the pattern traditionally used to decorate the doll display for the Girls’ Day Celebration in Japan.  This pattern has been used and loved by Japanese girls and women since the 18th century.

With optional zipper pull from imported Japanese bead

The bag shown is 4 inches high.  (Custom size orders gladly accepted ) .  It’s finished with metal eyelets and handles of imported mizuhiki cord from Japan, in your choice of colors.  The one pictured here is sparkly red.  Green, white, silver and gold also available!

Inside view

If you want, you can add on an optional zipper-pull or pendant dangle made from an imported Japanese bead like this one, embossed with a glorious chrysanthemum pattern.  Goldfish, fabric beads, geisha hair dangles and other one of a kind items are available.

You need these.  You really do.  You want to impress her.  Christmas is coming.  Do you really want to wrap all those gifts?

(Special Introductory Pre-Christmas Price:  $4 for small boxes, $6 for heirloom gift bag; $4 for regular gift bag)

Fall, now THAT is a season of inspiration.

It’s my birthday season, for one thing.   I share a birthday with Joan Jett (yay!) and Andrea Boccelli (yikes!)  and Thomas Felton (cool! [he’s the diabolical Draco Malfoy on Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone!])

Being a Virgo on the cusp of Libra makes for a slightly schizoid combination of the fiery and the anal–pretty useful for a jewelry-maker!  I wonder how that works out for Joan Jett?   I’m not seeing a lot of Virgo there…

But I love Fall for a whole bunch of other reasons too.  Sure, Spring has its adorable pink blossoms, and Summer has its gardens in wild profusion…. (and Winter has its icy glitter…. or, in Oregon, its sodden gloom, which I suppose is inspiring in its way [we shall soon find out…])….

But Fall—well, look at the obvious reasons—the breathtaking colors of changing leaves, the crisp mornings, the excitement of new beginnings….

Of course Halloween is the best holiday.  That requires no explanation.

And turtleneck sweaters.  I know Stacy and Clinton said not to wear them.   But what can I do?   Who doesn’t love pulling on that first turtleneck of the season?

But above all, I love the colors.  I love the  the cranberries, the clarets, and the rusts, the firy oranges, the maroons and the fuschias and the olive greens, the saffrons, and the champagnes.  Set off with pops of robins egg blue and turquoise too.

And it so happens that I have in my collection several sheets of rare handmade washi in the deepest, firiest colors…So, my Fall jewelry bursts out in a mad rush of inspiration—in honor of Libra, in the colors of fire.  In honor of Virgo–exceedingly well made 🙂

Blackbird Singing Pendant in Autumn Colors

Spooky Washi and Antiqued Silver Spiderweb

It’s been crazy at Paper Demon Jewelry this past month!   Gift bags, giveaways, promotions, 4 local markets, teaching my first series of Japanese Papercrafting classes at the splendid EMU  Craft Center, and a steady stream of orders on Etsy.  Amidst all that, trying to find time to create and perfect new jewelry designs, and switch our entire operations over to all-green mediums, sealers and finishes.  (I’m excited to post on this cool all-natural specialty fiber hardening product I’ve discovered–Paverpol–that comes from the Netherlands!)

But for tonight, let’s keep it short.  I want to introduce my latest items on Etsy.  I’ve been doing a lot with chiyogami/yuzen paper lately.  Actually, ever since my post on the Japanese Paper Place.  For awhile there I was completely entranced with my stained glass, sculptural, and shoji jewelry, all of which played on the color, translucence, and fiber texture of pure plain washi.

But as I explored the hundreds and hundreds of brilliantly colored patterns of chiyogami/yuzen washi at the Japanese Paper Place, I started to feel that maybe I’d abandoned it prematurely!

Chiyogami/yuzen, by the way, is the colorful patterned Japanese paper that so many Japanese crafts are made from.  Here’s how The Japanese Paper Place defines the term:

These wonderfully decorative patterns on paper, known as Chiyogami, are silkscreened onto machine made sheets of mixed kozo and sulphite.  They are more popularly known as Yuzen in the United States.

Originally, Chiyogami designs were developed in the Edo period as woodblock prints by papermakers during the farming season for use as accessories in the house to enliven the interiors. They were based on the bright kimono textiles which the papermakers from the countryside saw on the fashionable wealthier ladies in the larger cities, especially in Kyoto, where the area known as Yuzen had become famous for its sophisticated techniques for dyeing cloth.

Chiyogami was meant to be cut into pieces and made into paper dolls or pasted on tea tins or small paper boxes; still today the scale of the patterns is reminiscent of these early uses.  And still many of the symbols depicted hearken back to auspicious occasions when fancy kimonos would be worn: cranes for long life; bamboo for flexibility; plum blossoms and pine boughs for beauty and longevity.

The striking pigment colours, careful registration of screens and wide range of designs make these papers ideal for picture mats, books and box making.

The range of Chiyogami patterns is endless, and Japanese designers today are tireless in their development of new fascinating patterns.  These patterns are constantly stocked at The Japanese Paper Place.”

Yuzen patterns are the ones that look most like kimono fabric patterns and contain a lot of gold.  Chiyogami are traditionally more repetitive, with smaller scale repeating patterns that are excellent for utilitarian crafts (ie, wrapping tea canisters).

Here are some chiyogami images, taken from The Japanese Paper Place’s website.  The first block are quite modern patterns; the second block are more traditional (don’t stress about the ‘discontinued’ note–the JPP stocks over 1000 patterns and is constantly cycling in new ones and phasing out old ones, and can order anything a person needs, as I found out this past week!  Thanks Nancy!)

Some modern chiyogami

Some more-traditional chiyogami patterns

How can you not yearn to create with these papers?

I mean, the austere simplicity of kozo washi is a fine thing….  But look at these colors! 

So, to make a very long story (with nice pictures) short….  I am working on chiyogami jewelry this past couple of weeks.  And here it is.  Even Chiyogami Gem Pencils for Back to School!  They’re selling like hotcakes–especially the Chiyogami Gem Bracelet.

The Geometric Possibilities of Chiyogami

"All Our Efforts Must Tend Toward Light" inscribed on back

Chiyogami Gem Pencils

Sleek Modern Sterling silver dangle earrings

On a chunky Susan Kazmer Bezel

Chiyogami Gem Bracelet

Do you love paper art jewelry, washi paper beads, and origami jewelry, but hesitate to buy them because you’re afraid they won’t last?   No need to worry, if you buy from Paper Demon Jewelry.   At PDJ our biggest goal, aside from creating *beautiful* jewelry, is to create *lasting* jewelry.

I am hard on my jewelry.  I sleep in it, drop it into the bottom of my purse, squish it into suitcases…  so, I am determined to create and sell only jewelry that stands up to the abuse it would get at my own hands.

Shoji Chokers, New This Week at PDJ on Etsy.

Take the Shoji Chokers, new this week at our Etsy shop.  These are the product of years of experimentation (following on years of jewelry making and washi craft experience) to be as durable as any piece of jewelry you can buy.

The key is the polymer sealer.  It’s waterproof, so it protects the jewelry against the skin on one side, and against the elements on the other.

But since the polymer sealer can’t be applied directly to washi,  there are even more layers of other sealers underneath. It’s taken years to learn which sealers work, and in what order!    And before the sealers can be applied, the metal has to be prepped, and the washi adhered to it.   Our glue comes specially from Germany, and our sealers come from the Netherlands!  The whole process is a closely guarded PDJ trade secret!!

Right now we’re in the process of switching over to all-green sealers.  We’ll let you know how that turns out soon.

The great thing about all these layers is that each one deepens the colors of the washi and draws out its organic, fibery texture in different ways.  They also interact with the metal in interesting ways, sometimes oxidizing it, sometimes lightening it…  all part of the artistic process!

The end result, a lush, saturated, glossy jewel, glowing with color, feather light, and ready for any weather or wear.

Check them out at PDJ.

(I recommend that Paper Demon Jewelry paper art jewelry not be worn in the shower or swimming.  Chlorine, salt water, and things like that are not the friends of any fine jewelry.)

As I remarked earlier, who knew that the best place to buy Japanese paper in the northern hemisphere, outside of Japan, was the city of Toronto? And yet Toronto boasts not one, but two superb resources devoted to Japanese paper: The Japanese Paper Place, discussed in a previous post, and The Paper Place.

Today I want to talk about The Paper Place.  First off, check out this screen shot of it’s gorgeous website!!!

Screenshot, Website of The Paper Place

These people clearly love paper.  They get paper.  They get that for paper lovers it’s about the colors, and the textures and the patterns and the prints.  I love how their header has a kind of Hokusai wave of rainbow washi with its fibers all hanging out.

The Paper Place has been located at the same address for 20 years (887 Queen St. West, across from Trinity Bellwoods Park), but it used to be The Japanese Paper Place, ie, the wholesaler we introduced in our last post.  Apparently, and I’m not totally clear on the details (and folks from both places, you are welcome to comment with some history!) The Japanese Paper Place under founder Nancy Jacobi some years ago decided to devote itself to wholesaling Japanese paper and maintaining a warehouse resource center for conservators and artists, and handed over the retail side of things, along with the storefront, to The Paper Place.

From their mega-colorful washi-centric website, to their blog, to their workshops, to their inspiration page, to their online store, The Paper Place, as far as I can see, is just bubbling over with the sheer joy of Japanese paper.

Screenshot of The Paper Place Online Store

And lest you think it’s all about serious artwork (not that you would—does it look like it’s all about serious artwork?), they even carry those adorable Japanese paper animal balloons (I always buy a jellyfish when I’m in Japan).

Japanese Paper Animal Balloons

I am most taken with three things about The Paper Place.  The first thing is the sheer volume of Japanese papers, and the care with which they are clearly selected.  Take katazome-shi, for example.  Katazome-shi are traditional stenciled patterns of washi made using old kimono dying techniques, and are usually in very broad and bold color schemes and patterns that are very distinct and different from the layers of tiny pink plum blossoms, etc. that one normally sees in Japanese chiyogami.    They can be very hard to find outside of Japan.

Katazome-shi page

The Paper Place has no fewer than 12 pages of katazome-shi patterns, and even a cool page that explains how katazome shi are made (you should check it out).

Second, their blog features all kinds of cool washi-related art like the video of papercutting genius by Maurice Gee that I introduced last time, or for example, these cool washi paper dresses.

dresses made from washi!

And third, hello,  the graphic design?  Genius, sheer genius.  Who does it?  Can I get them to work for me?

There is only one downside to The Paper Place.  I don’t have such a good excuse for “needing” to go to Japan to buy paper anymore.

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