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.

The Paper Demon is taking a brief break from her blog to finish the 125 necklaces that have to be shipped off  in the next week.    She’ll be back in a day or so with Part Two of her Japanese Paper, In Toronto? series on The Paper Place.

But meanwhile, she just discovered this wonderful origami artist, Lotus Tree Crafts, and wants to share!  Lotus Tree Crafts does beautiful things with origami, making amazing glass ornaments with tiny cranes inside.

Lotus Tree Crafts' Origami Crane Ornament

How cool!  What a perfect Christmas item!   Be sure and visit her store on Etsy and her blog.

I’ve been thinking about branching out (so to speak!) into a new direction—origami flower bouquets and origami flower garlands.  Maybe even origami flower cupcake toppers!  There are hundreds of gorgeous Japanese origami flower folds (my favorite right now is jasmine), and in beautiful solid colored washi or even scrapbook paper, these could make amazing room decor.

I spent the last couple days experimenting.  Here are my first photos.  Please comment and tell me what you think!

Origami Flower Bouquet in Pearlized Washi

origami jasmine flower fold

The pearl sheen made these challenging to photograph!

Every jewelry-designer’s dream: to be the featured designer in the spectacular international jewelry blog, The Beading Gem’s Journal!

And lo, it has become reality for The Paper Demon!

The Paper Demon "On the Newsstands"!

How thrilling!

Just discovered the work of Bela Borsodi, an artist who constructs animals and people out of discarded and repurposed clothes and accessories.

Bela Borsodi face

Wow–that’s all I can say!   Check out this cool blogpost on his work! 

A lot of people think of origami as a children’s craft, making little frogs and cranes, something to do at school.

Robert Lang's Stars and Stripes Opus 500

But it is so very, very much more.  I didn’t realize how much more until I happened to see the film “Between the Folds” on PBS last year.  This film is a work of genius, about the work of origami geniuses.  If you ever stumble upon it on PBS, stop what you’re doing and watch it.  It will blow your mind.

work by Giang Dinh

This film is not really about showing origami pieces.  It’s about exploring the artistic vision and obsession of paper folding, and the deep convergence of art and science in the work of the new origami artists all over the world (England, Israel, the US. and

elsewhere).  Japan is hardly in the film at all!!

Here’s the official synopsis of the film:  “GREEN FUSE FILMS’ award–winning documentary Between the Folds (Check out the cool PBS Independent Lens site for more great info!) chronicles the stories of ten fine artists and intrepid theoretical scientists who have abandoned careers and scoffed at hard–earned graduate degrees—all to forge unconventional lives as modern–day paperfolders.

Pangolin, by Eric Joisel

As they converge on the unlikely medium of origami, these artists and scientists reinterpret the world in paper, and bring forth a bold mix of sensibilities towards art, expressiveness, creativity and meaning. And, together these offbeat and provocative minds demonstrate the innumerable ways that art and science come to bear as we struggle to understand and honor the world around us—as artists, scientists, creators, collaborators, preservers, and simply curious beings.”Luminously photographed“, with a “haunting” original score featuring the Budapest Symphony Orchestra, the film paints an arresting portrait of the mysterious creative threads that bind us all–fusing science and sculpture, form and function, ancient and new.

Face, by Giang Dinh

I’ve included a few pieces by a few of the artists featured in the film; they are all folded from ONE SHEET of paper.  But really, this is a film about people, not paper, and philosophy, not folds.

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!

Obviously, I love Japanese handmade paper!  At this point, you probably know that!  But, I also really care about the world.  And if I recycle paper in my office, then why shouldn’t I recycle paper in my jewelry?   A lot of artists and makers are rethinking their materials (you can find some of them at, and more and more trying to work in green, eco-friendly materials.

I haven’t found any sources for recycled washi yet (!!) but I recently scored a huge box of paper twist from our local Eugene craft exchange center, for a donation of a couple bucks.  I brought it home and gave it a Paper Demon makeover!  It makes the most gorgeous jewelry!

"SweetLife"--My Recycled Paper Jewelry Lariat Necklace

The flowers are accented with scraps of sparkly Japanese mizuhiki cord (as the flower stamens) from the studio, and hang on a cool crinkly pleather cord!  Vegan Jewelry rocks!  Hemp cord looks good too.

SweetLife can be tied or draped in a myriad of different ways

UPDATE:  SweetLife made it to Etsy Front Page on June 12!!!

Find SweetLife at

Now it’s got matching earrings and cocktail rings as well!

What I love most about this recycled paper twist material is that age has faded the paper in parts, giving the finished product the most wonderful subtle variations in color tone.  And of course, that I’m giving neglected old paper a lovely new lease on life!

I recently discovered the paper jewelry art of Ana Hagopian.  It blew my mind, and changed the whole landscape of the paper jewelry ‘enterprise’ for me.

Some of the paper jewelry art of Ana Hagopian

This stuff is not about pretty little origami earrings, as nice as those are.  This is wearable sculptural art that draws out the integral qualities of handmade paper (I think she makes her own, but it seems similar to Japanese washi in fiber texture) and explores the limits of paper worn on the body.

There are so many technical issues involved in getting paper to make those berry shapes, for instance, and hold that shape while being worn on a warm body,that I can’t even begin to comprehend how she does it.  But her work inspired me to go back to a project I’ve been playing with for a couple months, which is abstract shape paper jewelry.

"GlowWings" -an experiment in sculptural washi paper jewelry

I started exploring a few ideas this week, and am pleased with the results. I like how the spidery fibers of the washi are echoed by the delicacy of each individual vintage burnished copper and gold embroidery filament.

The quality of paper that I like, even more than the colors, is the translucency.  I’m drawn to making jewelry as thin and gossamer-like as possible–the challenge is, keeping it wearable!  The irony is not lost on me that I, who sleeps and showers in the same pair of earrings for weeks on end, am the one dedicated to fragility as beauty.