Category : Paper

Book Arts Guide to Vermont Open Studio Weekend

Handmade journal by Elissa CampbellWelcome to your Book Arts cheat sheet for Spring Open Studio Weekend 2018!

As I mentioned in my previous postVermont Open Studio Weekend (May 26 & 27) is rapidly approaching. As a book artist, it’s important to me to support other folks working in the field and that’s why I dedicate a blog post just to them. There are five book artsy studios participating (besides mine) this spring.

I created the Google map at the bottom of this post which includes all of the studios to help you plan your travels. I wish I could say that the book arts studios are close to each other, but sadly, they’re not.

I’ll be referring to studios by both name and number – the number refers to a listing in the gold Spring Event and Resource Guide. The colors of the studio numbers in this post match the colored markers in the Google map. By the way, I’m studio #160.

There are several ways to get your hands on a map:

I tried to find the most direct route between the studios so you could avoid backtracking. This route starts at the northernmost studio and travels counterclockwise. Here we go!

The first studio is #5, Meta Strick – she does it all. Oh my goodness, her calligraphy! She does wonderful mixed media work, including dolls that have a book component. She has a great philosophy that you can make anything into a book – it should come as no surprise to you that she’s a teacher.

Next stop is studio #37, Shelburne Pond Studios, where you’ll find Jill Abilock of Six Loons Studio. She creates one-of-a-kind work that is really inspirational. And really structurally complex (I don’t know how she does how she does). Her compelling storytelling and creative voice are enhanced by her innovative combinations of materials and structure.

#66 is Carolyn Shattuck, a seasoned printmaker and bookmaker. She often cuts up scrap monotypes and uses the pieces in her handmade books. For her, the book arts have been the focus of a body of work combining drawing and print assemblage techniques in three dimensional form. Many of her books include pop-up elements to set the scene for her deeply personal storytelling.

Last stop on the tour is studio #159 – Kelly McMahon of May Day Studio. Kelly is both a letterpress printer and a bookbinder. She carves many of her designs in linoleum for her beautiful gift wraps (which are totally frame-able). She was lucky enough to intern at the San Francisco Center for the Book, so you know she’s got skills. Kelly’s studio is about 1.6 miles from mine.

If you make it to central Vermont this weekend (if you visit me, you’ll be in the right place), you’ll get a bonus – head over to Studio Place Arts (#161) in Barre, VT to view the exhibit Beyond Words: Artworks by the Book Arts Guild of Vermont. Yep, it’s a whole collection of book work in one place! I have a piece in the exhibit, so you definitely should check it out.

If you go to any of the studios, please share your experiences in the comments below. And if you have pictures, I’d love to see them…you can even do a guest post on my blog!

A Bookbinder’s Black Friday

A Bookbinders Black Friday - logo

Yeah, so it’s Black Friday.

In Montpelier, where I live, they’ve dubbed it Flannel Friday – much more appropriate to the Vermont lifestyle. You show up to local shops wearing flannel and kablammo! You get a discount on your purchase. There’s also a Cider Monday, which is supposed to be the Cyber Monday alternative. Love.

We hosted Thanksgiving this year with a total of 23 people and 3 dogs – it was nuts. A happy and awesome kind of nuts, but nuts nonetheless.

Even though I am totally exhausted, there’s no time for rest – I have a craft show that opens tomorrow, the fabulous Women’s Festival of Crafts. If you happen to be in the vicinity of Burlington, VT tomorrow or Sunday, come on by my booth and say hi!

That said, there are quite a few bookbinding-related online sales going on today (and some beyond that). Check ’em out:

From now through 11/27 at midnight GMT, Vintage Paper Co. is offering 25% off all products listed on this page of their website. Use code bf at checkout to get the discount.

John Neal Bookseller is going bananas with all the deals.

  • Get free standard shipping (within the U.S.) on orders of $100.00 or more. Use code BF17FS at checkout for the discount from now through 11:59 p.m. on 11/25.
  • Get 10% to 50% off Black Friday Sale items from now through 6:00 p.m. on 12/1 (a full week!) – save on some of their most popular books and supplies.
  • All Londonderry thread is 20% off, including individual spools, sets, and lacing thread.
  • Two great bookbinding books by Don Etherington are on sale. Bookbinding & Conservation: A Sixty-year Odyssey of Art and Craft is priced at $24.95 and Don Etherington: Design Bindings, A Retrospective is priced at $19.95.

Pergamena, producer of stunning fine leathers and parchment, is offering free UPS Ground shipping on all orders over $100.00 Use coupon code FR33SHIPPING at checkout to get the discount.

As part of their holiday sale, Oak Knoll Books is offering 40% off select titles from their website. This sale is going on now through November 27th and no special code is needed – the discount will automatically be applied to the cost of these books.

Arnold Grummer is offering a 10% discount on all paper essentials, such as supplies, fibers, and presses. Use code DIYPAPER (not to be confused with DIAPER) at checkout to get the discount.

Now through midnight EST, Paper Mojo is offering 25% off storewide. Use code use code BF2017X at checkout to get the discount. Time to stock up on handmade and decorative papers!

Paper Source is offering free shipping on all orders over $50.00 – no code is needed.

From now through 11/30, The Paper Mill Store is offering 10% off orders of $250.00 or more with code 250SALE and 15% off orders of $500.00 or more with code 500SALE.

Paper-Papers is offering 60% off the already discounted price of products in their Sale and Clearance categories. Use coupon code floor at checkout to get the discount.

If you’ve got a bookbinding book on your wish list, you’re in luck! Amazon (yep, that Amazon) is offering $5.00 off print book purchases of $20.00 or more. From now until 11/26 at 2:59 a.m. EST, use code GIFTBOOK17 at checkout to get the discount. Note: Offer only applies to products sold and shipped by Amazon.com.

And if Cyber Monday is more your thing:

On 11/27 Mechling Bookbindery is offering 40% off all instructional DVD series and 40% off your choice of leather. Free shipping is available for orders over $250.00.

By the way, don’t forget Giving Tuesday! There are tons of worthy organizations out there that would love your support. Here are some of my favorites:

Happy shopping and/or donating!

Dream job – G. F Smith’s Paper Consultants

As is my way, I was in the midst of an unfocused internet browse when I encountered the G.F. Smith website. Originating in London, the company has been supplying creative industries with paper for over 130 years. To say that they’re just a paper distributor is simply not okay.

Check out their Founding Legacy

G.F. Smith Founding Legacy

Damn, I like these guys.

And damn, I wish I could work for them – they’ve got Paper Consultants on staff. Check out the description of this dream job below:

G.F. Smith Paper Consultant job description

Dreamy.

If you live in England and happen to be in the neighborhood of either London or Hull, you can make a Paper Appointment. Actually, you must make a Paper Appointment.

And report back.

With pictures.

Visit to Chena River Marblers

This weekend I was fortunate enough to be able to do something I’ve wanted to do for a while – attend Chena River Marblers‘ open studio.

In the past, I always had something else going on during the event, but it worked out well this time around. I had to be in MA to see my niece and nephew in a performance of The Nutcracker and Amherst was just a shortish drive from there.

The studio is located in a residential area, so I got to experience what some folks must go through when they visit my studio – even though there was a sign outside the door, I felt a bit strange going into someone’s home.

Chena River Marblers studio

I peeked in the window to confirm that I was in the right place, which of course I was. I opened the doors and was immediately met by so.much.paper…

Hand-marbled papers by Chena River Marblers

…and silk scarves and neckties…Hand-marbled scarves by Chena River Marblers

…and handmade books.

Handmade books by Chena River Marblers

Handmade books by Chena River Marblers

As I walked through the hall with what I can only assume was a gaping-wide mouth, I finally made it to the main part of the studio. I was greeted by the very sweet Regina St. John, one half of the marbling dynamic duo.

Inside of Chena River Marblers studio

She and her husband Dan have been marbling for over 30 years and they’ve got the stash to prove it. Holy crap, those flat files. Regina told me that they built those themselves.

Custom built paper flat files

Custom built paper flat files

I love being able to see the equipment that artists use to create their work. Tools = cool.

Paper marbling combs

Paper marbling whisks

I vowed after returning from my vacation to Japan that I would not buy any more paper this year. After all, I came back with over 50 sheets.

Yeah, that didn’t stick.

I started a pile, which changed rapidly as I made my way around the studio. Ooohhh…this paper is the best one! No, this one is! I can’t leave this one here!

Hand-marbled papers by Chena River Marblers

I finally settled on 8 sheets, which exceeded my budget by just a smidge (a miracle). It was totally worth it.

Here’s what I bought:

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Marbled paper by Chena River Marblers

Right? Right? This paper is so flipping gorgeous! I want to put it on the floor and roll around on it. I want to write it love letters. I want to hug it and squeeze it and call it George.

Obviously, the visit was amazing.

FYI – They hold their open studio every December, so you’ve got a year to make arrangements to attend the next one. 🙂

A Bookbinder’s Black Friday

Ah, the splendor of Black Friday.

This year I have decided to keep a low profile shopping-wise. After I bought all of that paper in Japan, I have no good reason to buy anything else for the rest of the year.

Instead, I will be spending my day completing a bunch of unfinished books that have been sitting in my studio for the past week. Then I’ll engage in the oh-so-fun tradition of Let’s Pack up the Van for a Craft Show.

For those of you inclined to shop today, there are a bunch of bookbinding-related online sales going on today (and through the weekend).

Rolls of bookcloth

Check ’em out:

Hiromi Paper has moved their famous Annual Sale so that it starts on Black Friday. From 11/25 through 12/31 (yep, the end of the year), you can get paper with discounts between 25% – 80%.

Through 11/29, Paper-Papers is offering 50% off the already discounted price of products in their Clearance section. Use coupon code clearweek at checkout to get the discount.

As part of their holiday sale, Oak Knoll Books is offering free shipping on all domestic orders of $50.00 or more. No special code is needed – shipping will automatically be removed from the total.

From now until midnight on 11/28, Paper Mojo is offering 20% off storewide. Use code BF2016X at checkout to get the discount. Time to stock up on handmade and decorative papers!

John Neal Bookseller is offering free standard shipping within the U.S. on all orders of $100 or more, now through 11:59 p.m. on 11/26. Use code BF16FS at checkout for the discount. In addition, from now through 6:00 p.m. on 12/2, they’re offering 20% to 30% off a selection of items, including spools and sets of Londonderry thread.

From 11/25 through 11/27, Paper Connection International is offering 10% off all internet orders. Use coupon code CYBER10 to get the discount.

Pergamena, producer of stunning fine leathers and parchment, is offering 20% off everything in their online store and free shipping. From 11/25 through 11/28, use code 20%OFF at checkout to get the discount.

From now through 11/28, Arnold Grummer is offering a 10% discount on all regular and sale priced items. Use code CW10 at checkout to get the discount.

On 11/25, Paper Source is offering 50% off seasonal colors (Spruce and Poinsettia) of items in their Paper Bar (including large sheets of text and cover weight papers). All other paper colors are discounted as follows: Buy 5 packs get 10% off; buy 10 packs, get 20% off; buy 25 packs get 30% off.

If you’ve got a bookbinding book on your wish list, you’re in luck! Amazon (yep, that Amazon) is offering $10.00 off book purchases of $25.00 or more. From now until 11/28 at 2:59 a.m. EST, use code HOLIDAYBOOK at checkout to get the discount. Note: Offer only applies to products sold and shipped by Amazon.com.

And if you’re more into Cyber Monday:

On 11/28 Mechling Bookbindery is offering 50% off and free standard shipping on all bookbinder’s instructional DVDs. You can also get 50% off both premium goatskin and premium heavy grain black goatskin

The Paper Place is offering all Chiyogami at 20% off. No coupon code is needed – the discount will be applied automatically at checkout.

Happy shopping!

Trip to Ryozo Paper, Echizen

My trip to Echizen almost ended in paper tragedy – at first, we were unable to get into a papermaking studio.

When we arrived at Papyrus House, we were given a map that listed a number of studios. When I asked which studio they recommended for a visit, we were told that the studios were closed because everyone was working.

We were baffled. Why list studios on a map if they weren’t open to the public? Then the realization sunk in – I traveled to Japan and wouldn’t be able to visit any studios. I was not happy.

The hubby and I called up our host and asked for help. He hopped in his car and zipped on over. He looked at the map and whipped out his phone. Within five minutes, we were on our bikes heading towards the Ryozo Paper studio.

We arrived at a nondescript building in what looked like a residential neighborhood.

Ryozo papermaking facility

I wasn’t sure that we were in the right place until I saw a small sign with a piece of handmade paper on it. Confirmed.

Sign on front of the Ryozo papermaking facility

We entered the studio and were warmly greeted by the studio’s owner, Ryozo Yanase. The studio was not at all like I was expecting – it was quite an operation.

On the sides of the room, there were three women at separate vats pulling sheets of paper. The screens were attached to ropes that hung from the ceiling, which I assume helps to relieve some of the weight when pulling sheets.

Woman creating sheet of handmade paper in Japan at Ryozo paper

Two of the women created solid base sheets. After a sheet had been formed, the screen was carried over to a slow-moving conveyor belt and the sheet was transferred to it.

Woman transferring sheet of handmade paper to a conveyor belt in Japan at Ryozo paper

The third woman made paper on what looked like a silk screen with a floral pattern. She’d scoop up pulp with the screen and the pulp would settle wherever the pattern was located. Where the screen was solid, the watery pulp would just wash off the screen. The result was more like small, individual pieces of paper than a sheet – the flowers weren’t connected in any way.

The artisan laid her work on top of each base sheet that traveled down the conveyor belt.

Woman transferring sheet of handmade paper to a conveyor belt in Japan at Ryozo paper

Handmade sheet of paper on conveyor belt in Japan at Ryozo paper

At the end of the conveyor belt, the sheet would get pulled under a ginormous metal roller. The water would get squeezed out of the sheet and it would get super flat.

Handmade sheet of paper on conveyor belt in Japan at Ryozo paper

The sheet would stick to the roller when it came out the other side and it was carried up to man on a platform near the top of the roller. He’d peel off the sheets and add them to an ever-growing pile.

Man pulling sheet of paper off giant metal roller at Ryozo paper

Wait, why am I explaining all of this in words when I can just show you the video I took? Warning: This is hypnotizing.

After breaking from the spell of watching paper being made, I took some time to look around the studio. Sheets of paper hung from the ceiling and in front of windows. It was lovely.

Sheet of handmade paper hanging from the ceiling at Ryozo paper

Sheet of handmade lace paper hanging from the ceiling at Ryozo paper

Sheet of handmade lace paper hanging from the ceiling at Ryozo paper

Sheet of handmade lace paper hanging in front of a window at Ryozo paper

Sheet of handmade lace paper hanging in front of a window at Ryozo paper

The wood supports (keta) for the screens (su) were also hung from the ceiling. The keta is a double-hinged frame made of Japanese cypress that holds the screen when a sheet is pulled.

Keta (part of the sugeta) hanging from the ceiling at Ryozo paper

Thank goodness for technology! We were able to communicate with the artist by using Google Translate on our phone. He used his iPad to do the same. I usually feel like technology creates distance between people, but in this case, it definitely brought us together.

He said that he’d been making paper for 25 years and that they produce 800 sheets of paper each day. There were buckets of pulp everywhere.

Plastic buckets full of red paper pulp

Plastic buckets full of purple and mixed paper pulp

There were buckets of wet hibiscus root (neri), a gooey substance that’s added to pulp to aid with fiber dispersion. It also helps slow down water drainage during the sheet forming process, which gives the maker more time to form an even sheet.

Plastic bucket with hibiscus root

At the end of our visit, we gave Yanase a gift of maple candy and thanked him for his hospitality. He returned the gesture by giving me a lovely sheet of lace paper – totally unexpected. The paper is so dreamy

The pattern is called uzumaki, which is the Japanese word for spiral. It measures 23.875″ x 35.75″ (grain short).

Handmade lace paper by Ryozo paper

Handmade lace paper by Ryozo paper

Best.visit.ever.

If you’re interested in checking out the facility for yourself, here are the details:

  • Address: 10-1 Otaki cho, Echizen-shi, Fukui Prefecture (Google Map)
  • Phone: 0778-42-1155 (I highly recommend that you call them in advance. Don’t wing it like I did.)
  • Public transportation: Take a train to JR Takefu Station. After exiting the train, you’ll see the bus stop (sheltered area). Take the Fuku-Tetsu bus for the Nanetsu line (heading towards Akasaka) – it’s about a 20 minute ride. Get off at the Washi-no-Sato stop. Assuming that you’re now at Papyrus House, you’ve got a 10 minute walk to get to Ryozo Paper. Here’s a Google Map that can help get you there.

Total sheets of paper purchased to date: 44 (although I did get a sheet of paper at Ryozo, I didn’t buy it so it doesn’t count)

Trip to Papyrus House, Echizen

We started our Echizen paper journey at Papyrus House. It’s kind of a mush of an information center, store, workshop space, and exhibit hall. The building exterior is nondescript and doesn’t come close to indicating what’s inside. You could just walk right by it and never realize it was there.

Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

But holy crap – the interior. Just inside the entrance was this fantastic wall piece composed of folded origami cranes.

Origami artwork at Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

Artwork composed of origami cranes at Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

And then there were these insane pieces hanging from the ceiling – all of them included tons of origami pieces.

Folded paper sculptures at Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

Folded paper sculptures at Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

There was a display that showed the papermaking process and all of the little figures were made of paper.

Papermaking display at Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

Papermaking display at Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

If you feel inspired to create while at Papyrus House, you’re in luck – they’ve got a studio where you can take a quick papermaking workshop.

And if you feel inspired to shop, you’re also in luck – Washidokoro Echizen offers a wide variety of products (fans, books, cards), all made from Japanese paper. 

Gift shop at Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

Yep – they also sell sheets of paper, many of which were made locally. So.much.paper.

Paper shelves at Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

Paper shelves at Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

Most of the rolled paper you see in the image below cost just ¥100 (less than $1.00 USD)! This is the part where you picture me doing a happy dance.

Rolls of paper at Papyrus House in Echizen, Japan

So some shopping happened.

This sheet of Chiyogami with Samurai dudes was just too fabulous to pass up. It measures 28.25″ x 25.5″ (grain short).

Chiyogami paper with Samurai
Next I selected a few machine-made sheets with different designs. These papers don’t look printed. They seem to have two layers – the bottom sheet is a solid color, while the top sheet is a patterned, light color. I think that the pattern in the top layer is created like a watermark. All of the sheets measure 21.625″ x 31.5″ (grain long).

Machine-made Japanese paper with pink flowers

Machine-made Japanese paper with yellow flowers

Machine-made Japanese paper with blue flowers

The next paper was another machine-made sheet. It’s soft and has a crinkled texture. I’m pretty sure that this sheet is also made from two layers of paper. It measures 21.875″ x 31.5″ (grain long)

Japanese machine-made crinkled paper with peach and cream circles

The next two papers are machine-made and have lovely shiny fibers floating on the surface. This yellow sheet measures 21.875″ x 31.875″ (grain long).

Yellow Japanese machine-made paper with stripes and fibers

Interestingly, the purple sheet isn’t the same size – it measures 21.625″ x 31.75″ (grain long).

Purple Japanese machine-made paper with stripes and fibersThis next sheet is probably my favorite from today – it’s a handmade wood-grained lace paper. It is simply gorgeous – thin, delicate, and floaty. It measures 23.875″ x 35.75″ (grain short).

If you’d like to see how it’s made, check out Awigami Factory’s video. The process is really fascinating.

Japanese wood-grained tissue paper

Japanese wood-grained tissue paper

The next two papers are machine-made papers. They’re crinkled and reversible, which is awesome. Both sheets measure 31″ x 21.625″ (grain long).

Blue and orange reversible Japanese machine-made crinkled paper

Purple and yellow reversible Japanese machine-made crinkled paper

Then came two more crinkled sheets, but each has the same color on both sides.. The brown sheet measures 21.75″ x 32.125″ (grain long). It’s kinda chocolaty.
Brown Japanese crinkled paper

The purple sheet measures 22″ x 31.5″ (grain long).

Purple Japanese solid crinkled paperThe next two sheets are also machine-made, crinkled, and reversible. I love the crisscross pattern of the lines. The patterned side of the paper also has little iridescent flecks on it. Both sheets measure 21.625″ x 31.75″ (grain long).

Green reversible Japanese machine-made crinkled paper with lines

Blue reversible Japanese machine-made crinkled paper with lines

And the last sheet of the day – a brown Katazome paper, screen-printed with assorted symbols. It measures 24.875″ x 38″ (grain short).

Brown Japanese screen printed paper with symbols

If you’d like to check out the place for yourself, here’s the scoop:

  • Address: 8-44 Shinzaike-cho, Echizen City, Fukui (Google Map)
  • Phone: 0778-42-1363
  • Public Transportation: Take a train to JR Takefu Station. After exiting the train, you’ll see the bus stop (sheltered area). Take the Fuku-Tetsu bus for the Nanetsu line (heading towards Akasaka) – it’s about a 20 minute ride. Get off at the Washi-no-Sato stop. Click here to access a map of the area.

Total sheets of paper purchased to date: 44

The awesomeness of Echizen

I’m just going to say it – I love Echizen.

View of Echizen, Japan

Yet it has been really hard for me to write this post. I think it’s because the place is just beyond words. Visiting this papermaking village (Washi no Sato) was the absolute highlight of my trip to Japan. 

When I think of my time there, I get overwhelmed by warm fuzzies and my brain turns to mush. And then I get sad. I wonder if I’ll ever get to go back there. I feel a loss for having not having been there longer. I long for the warmth and kindness of the people I met there.

I first became aware of Echizen back in the early 90’s when I worked at Paper Source (back when they actually sold paper). The store carried a variety of papers from the area, but at the time, I didn’t understand that Echizen was a place. I might have thought that it was a brand name (embarrassing). It was later on that I realized that it was an actual location in Japan.

When I started doing research for our trip to Japan and rediscovered Echizen, I knew in my gut that I had to go there. The official village website offers the following as an introduction to the area:

There are now about 70 factories that use either handmade, industrial, or processing methods, with about 500 people working in Washi related jobs in the Imadate area “Goka”.

 

Goka” is called by five villages of the town, Oizu, Iwamoto, Shinzaike, Sadatomo and Otaki, in all together. This area have been producing Japanese paper since 6th century and constitute “Echizen Washi no Sato”.

 

There used to be lots of paper villages every where in Japan, but it is very unusual to see an area like Echizen only making paper through all the year, whereas the others used to make paper only in winter when they didn’t produce rice. As a result, Echizen is one of the largest handmade paper industries in Japan along with Tosa in Kochi and Mino in Gifu Prefectures. 

Echizen, Japan

It amazes me that Echizen played such a vital role in the history of Japanese paper. Its reputation as the producer of fine, high quality paper is well-deserved. Echizen washi was used for printing both the first paper currency in Japan and official court documents. It is believed that Rembrandt used Echizen washi for his etchings.

According to The Association for the Promotion of Traditional Craft Industries, the area has 26 government recognized Master Craftsmen. On top of that, a number of artisans in Echizen have been certified as Living National Treasures.

So yeah, the place is fantastic.

Aside from papermakers, the village offers several paper-related destinations:

We were lucky enough to be able to visit each of these places, except for the Paper and Culture Museum (me = sad). I’ll share those experiences in future blog posts.

Everywhere you go in Echizen, you can see the influence of paper on the community. We had lunch at a restaurant and handmade paper was all over the place.

Handmade paper wall hanging

Handmade paper wall hanging

Suminagashi and lace paper under glass

And the postal service in Echizen is in on the paper fun too. If you go to the Okamoto post office and ask for fukei-in, the postmaster will hand stamp your letter with a special postmark – it includes an image of the Okamoto Otaki Shrine and a woman making paper. I’m still kicking myself for not sending myself a postcard.

We were lucky enough to have access to bicycles during our stay, so it was easy for us to get around.

Elissa Campbell on a bicycle in Echizen

Yep, I rode around with my paper tube on my back. Getting paper home safely was a priority!

As we rode our bikes, we became more and more aware of what was going on inside the buildings we passed. Sometimes we’d hear the whirring of machinery coming from a building that looked like a residence. Other times things were out in the open.

Paper warehouse

Paper warehouse

Paper warehouse

I know that we didn’t even scratch the surface of what there is to learn about Echizen and its rich papermaking history. If I ever return to Japan (fingers crossed), I’d love to go back there.

I’d like to take this opportunity to give a shout out to photographer Katz Hata, our Echizen host and guide. He was beyond awesome. It was embarrassing just how many times we got lost and he came to our rescue (FYI – Google Maps is not much help in this part of Japan). Without him, we wouldn’t have had such a rich experience.

So, now you want to visit Echizen, right? Go – you won’t regret it.

Here’s the scoop:

  • Address: Google Map
  • Phone: 0778-24-0655 (tourist information about Echizen)
  • Public Transportation: Take a train to JR Takefu Station. After exiting the train, you’ll see the bus stop (sheltered area). Take the Fuku-Tetsu bus for the Nanetsu line (heading towards Akasaka) – it’s about a 20 minute ride. Get off at the Washi-no-Sato stop.

Total sheets of paper purchased to date: 29 (trust me, that number’s going up)

T.W. Wood Art Camp

I was honored to be asked to speak to the campers at the T.W. Wood Art Camp yesterday. The camp is held every year at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in Montpelier, VT and lasts for two weeks.

This was my second visit to the camp – I talked to the campers about my work back in 2011.

T.W. Wood Art Camp sign

My visit had two purposes – to talk about my work in the book arts and discuss my recent trip to Japan. I brought a selection of books to share, including artist’s books and models of Japanese bindings. I also brought several sheets of paper that I purchased in Japan – my intention was to teach them about washi and its creative applications (Chiyogami, Shibori, Katazome-shi, etc.).

I set up my display and waited for the kids to arrive…

Display of handmade books and paper at T.W. Wood Art Camp

Display of handmade books and paper at T.W. Wood Art Camp

…and then they were there!

I really value the opportunity to educate others about the book arts and to me, it’s especially meaningful to talk to children. It’s so important for them to understand the value of the arts and I appreciate that I get to play a small part in that learning experience.

I started by talking about the first book I ever made when I was in the 2nd grade – The Dog Who Couldn’t Bark. I’m not sure why, but the kids latched on to the story and kept asking if I would read the book to them. At the end of my talk, I held an impromptu story time.

Elissa Campbell talking about handmade books at T.W. Wood Art Camp

The kids asked lots of questions, which I loved. They just don’t hold back, like adults often do. I invited the kids to come up to my display and get a closer look at my work. They quickly swarmed around me and the table – it was a total mob scene, but in a good way.

When they left, here’s what was left of my display:

Display of handmade books and paper at T.W. Wood Art Camp

It may not look like it, but the kids were very respectful of my work when handling it.

Many thanks to the very awesome Martha Fitch for inviting me to speak. Not only is she the T.W. Wood Art Camp Director, but she’s also the Executive Director of the Vermont Crafts Council. The woman is a rock star.

Trip to Isetatsu, Tokyo

Isetatsu was our last paper-related stop in Tokyo, which was good because day three was so.very.long. And I’m pretty sure that my husband was over it. We found the petite shop nestled on a small street – if you didn’t know it was there, you would totally walk by it.

Exterior of Isetatsu, Tokyo

I wanted to know more about Isetatsu, so I got my Nancy Drew on. I discovered that it was established during the Edo period, approximately 150 years ago (wowza). The owners are fifth generation printmakers and they are the only folks still making Edo-style Chiyogami, which is woodblock-printed.

Before today, I’m not sure if I knew that Chiyogami papers were originally block printed. Chiyogami, as I knew it, was screen printed. World = rocked.

The papers in the store were really beautiful and I had never seen ones like these before. I found a section of the store that had smaller sheets and I just fell in love with them. The sign by these papers said that they were machine-printed, but they didn’t look that way. After some back and forth communication with the sales clerk (with translation help from both of our devices), we simultaneously realized that the machine in question was a letterpress. 

I’ve never considered a letterpress as a machine. I’ve always seen it as a mechanical extension of the artist’s hand. Is that weird?

After some deliberation, I picked nine sheets to take home with me. I didn’t know it at the time, but all of those papers were created by the artists at Isetatsu. I came to that conclusion after I found this book: Isetatsu Collection: Traditional Patterns on Japanese Wood-Print Paper by Kaori Saito (ISBN: 4894447703). The book includes images of papers that are among the ones I purchased.

The colors are really vibrant and I love the patterns. The base paper doesn’t feel like any washi I’ve encountered, it’s really smooth. The sheets all measure 10.625″ x 15.5″ (grain long). This size is known as oonishiki-han (27 cm x 38 cm) and is the most common size of Chiyogami.

Blue letterpressed paper with flowers

Pink letterpressed paper with pink flowers and folded cranes

Peach letterpressed paper with red flowers

Green letterpressed paper with white flowers and polka dots

Red letterpressed paper with silver flowers

Blue letterpressed paper with white and yellow flowers

Purple letterpressed paper with white and pink flowers

Green letterpressed paper with flowers

Orange letterpressed paper with flowers

Each sheet has text on its edge – I’m wondering if it establishes Isetatsu as the maker and/or identifies the design.

Orange letterpressed paper with flowers with Japanese writing on the edge

Unfortunately, the sales clerk wouldn’t let me take pictures inside the store (I always ask first). Flickr to the rescue! Check out these pictures by hanakisoi to see the inside of Isetatsu:

To learn more about Isetatsu, read this article from The Japan Times by Yuko Naito: Block-printed Paper Beauty.

If you’re itching to see the shop for yourself, here’s how to get there:

  • Address: 2-18-9 Yanaka, Taito-ku, Tokyo (Google Map)
  • Phone: 03-3823-1453
  • Public Transportation: Sendagi Station (Chiyoda line), exit 1

Total sheets of paper purchased to date: 29

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