Category : Paper

Trip to Itoya, Tokyo

Welcome to the first of many blog posts documenting my recent trip to Japan. Warning – most of these posts will be long and image-heavy. I took over 1,000 pictures while I was there!

The first paper-related stop on my trip was a store in Tokyo – Itoya. It’s considered one of the best (if not the best) stationery stores in the city. The location I went to is their flagship store and is located in the Ginza district. Ginza = very upscale shopping area (a.k.a. fancy schmancy). 

Thankfully, the store was easy to find – the sign greets you with a ginormous red paper clip.

Store sign outside of Itoya Tokyo

I decided to start the visit off by checking out their current exhibit – Paper & Technique – The World of Katazome and Handmade Washi. Featured work included handmade washi by artist Chiaki Morita and Katazome by artist Kimiko Shiga.

The exhibit was on the 7th floor of the building, so up the escalator I went (and went and went). Most of the exhibit signs were in Japanese (no surprise there). Since I had background knowledge of the making of paper and Katazome, it was easy enough for me to understand the displays.

Right by the Katazome display was a small sign with information about the process (click on the image to enlarge). My husband was happy to see (and read) it.

Katazome exhibit sign at Itoya Tokyo

I appreciated being able to feel Katazome samples at various stages in the process. It’s not often that you get to put your hands on something.

Overall, the exhibit offered a nice introduction to the Katazome and washi-making processes. It’s perfect for folks who are new to this kind of work.

Katazome papers on display at Itoya Tokyo

The majority of the 7th floor at Itoya is focused on fine paper. I assumed that this meant decorative paper, but I was wrong – it’s paper intended for design and designers. When you enter the area, you’re greeted by an amazing wall of paper samples.

Wall of paper samples at Itoya Tokyo

As soon as I laid my eyes on the wall, my brain immediately went to How much would it cost to get one of each? Unfortunately, since this was my first paper store, I had to pace myself with purchases – there was so much more paper to be seen (and bought).

Each little section in the wall contains multiple samples of each paper that you can take out and feel (and smell, if you’re into that). 

Wall of paper samples at Itoya Tokyo

You can also check out available papers by flipping through their petite library of sample books. I want a little wood bookshelf for my sample books!

Paper sample books at Itoya Tokyo

Paper sample book at Itoya Tokyo

And there was yet another area of sample books that were larger. These were organized by color and texture – there were names on them like “crispy” and “moist”.

Once you made your paper choices, you had to bring them to the Paper Concierge. Yep, that’s a thing and I want that job. The concierge took my six samples (yes, only six) and pulled full size sheets from the wooden shelves that ran from floor to ceiling. I want those shelves.

Paper shelves at Itoya Tokyo

My first three acquisitions were a light brown/kraft color and the patterns are ever-so-slightly embossed on the surface. These sheets measure approximately 15.5″ x 21.375″ (grain long). They refer to this as yotsugiri size, approximately 540 mm x 390 mm.

Embossed patterned kraft paper

Embossed patterned kraft paper

Embossed patterned kraft paper

The next sheet was a white paper with embedded red threads – it measures approximately 21.5″ x 15.5″ (grain short). Later on in my trip, I found out that this paper is manufactured in Echizen, one of our future travel stops.

White paper with embedded red threads

Then came a bright orange paper with light orange polka dots, measuring approximately 21.375″ x 15.5″ (grain short). This paper brought me back to my days working at Paper Source. We sold it in the mid-nineties and it was called “dotted washi”. LOVE the orange.

Orange dotted washi

The last sheet was a very subtle peach-colored paper with flowery-bursty patterns on it, measuring approximately 21.375″ x 15.5″ (grain short).

Peach-colored paper with white flowers

After I paid for the paper, I went up another escalator to the 8th floor, which was named “Craft”. Then I saw it – a big wall, full of Chiyogami and other Japanese papers. The papers were wrapped around flat cardboard cores in a manner similar to bolts of fabric. None of them were covered in plastic (free range!) – you could touch them as you pleased.

Shelf of Chiyogami papers at Itoya Tokyo

Shelf of Chiyogami papers at Itoya Tokyo

After some exploration, I decided on this lovely pale green sheet of Chiyogami with rabbits and frogs (I loves me some frogs). It measures approximately 37″ x 25.5″ (grain short).

Chiyogami paper with frogs and rabbits

Chiyogami paper with frogs and rabbits

I also bought the first of several Shibori papers encountered on my trip. Each measures 19.375″ x 25″ (grain long).

Shibori paper

Shibori paper

After I finished paper shopping (and did a happy dance), I checked out the rest of the store. They had a small selection of bookbinding tools, including tips for a Japanese screw punch. I was psyched to discover two tip sizes that I didn’t already have – 1.2 mm and 1.8 mm. They are now mine.

Japanese screw punch tips

Overall, Itoya was a nice first stop on my completely unrealistic book arts/paper arts tour through Japan. As a bonus, they had an area where my husband could sit, chill, and monkey with his phone while I shopped. That’s a win.

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

  • Address: 2-7-15,Ginza Chuo-ku,Tokyo (Google Map)
  • Phone: 03-3561-8311
  • Public transportation: 5 minute walk from the Ginza subway station on the Ginza line

Total sheets of paper purchased to date: 9


Shelves of handmade papers at Kamiji Kakimoto, Kyoto

So I just got back from Japan yesterday.

Sorry that I wasn’t more up front about the timing of my trip. I’m one of those people who isn’t comfortable revealing travel plans online, especially when my house is being left unoccupied. It’s tough for me to exist in that intersection of social media and safety.

I spent a lot of my trip fighting the urge to post pictures on Instagram.

That said, I have so much to share with you.

I loved Japan. It’s that simple. The place is magical. The people are beyond friendly (and polite and kind and generous).

I’ve got at least a dozen blog posts cued up. This is going to be an extensive blog journey.

At this point, I have to admit that I suck at history. I wish I were one of those people who remembers the specifics of how things happened and why. The fact is that when it comes to some of the details about my trip, I going to have to do research.

What I can say is that I’m great at remembering how things felt. I really hope to convey the sense of excitement and how full my heart was when visiting Japan. The love I now have for this country runs deep.

So let’s start here – my itinerary of craziness.

Yeah, that list was completely unrealistic (but I already knew that). My poor husband spent way too much time sitting on chairs, looking at his phone while I shopped. To tip the scales, he did rope me into one especially evil hike, so I consider us even.

Here’s the recap of what did happen:




My blog posts will be written in the order in which we visited each location (Tokyo > Echizen > Kyoto).

By the way, if you’re interested in having your own Japanese experience, feel free to contact me about any of the places I’ve been. I’m more than happy to give you the specifics of where we slept, what we ate, and who we met. My itinerary is totally accessible, I have no secrets.

Welcome to my adventure!


Kyoto shrine

Holy crap, I’m going to Japan this summer.

Perhaps you’ve taken a look at my Book Arts/Paper Arts in Japan spreadsheet, which to date includes over 70 resources. And I’m sure that I haven’t even scratched the surface.

There’s no way I’m going to see all of those places, as much as I’d like to. The fact remains that I’m taking this trip with my hubby and we need to do some non-paper things too. 

I’m a good wife.

So what’s the plan? Here’s what it’s looking like so far:


  • Tokyu Hands: This is the mother of all craft stores.
  • Kinokuniya: Because for some reason, having nine Japanese bookbinding books isn’t enough.
  • Parco Book Center: Backup plan for if I can’t find enough books at Kinokuniya.
  • Masumi: This place has supplies for the conservation of scrolls. They use fabric-backed cloth for mounting, which I believe is essentially bookcloth. Holy Moses, look at this picture and tell me you wouldn’t blow some serious cash there.
  • Paper Nao: They hand-paint papers here. Awesome.
  • Isetatsu: This place is supposed to have a phenomenal selection of Chiyogami.
  • Kyukyodo: Yep, another paper store.
  • Itoya: Annnndddd…another paper store. But they also have an exhibit – Paper & Technique – The World of Katazome and Handmade Washi.
  • TAKEO: More paper.
  • Misuzudo Bindery: I am dying to see a Japanese bookbinder’s workspace.
  • Kihara: This store sells library supplies and tools.
  • Sekaido: This is supposed to be a phenomenal place to get art supplies.
  • Paper Museum: Exhibitions focusing on the historical and cultural significance of paper.



Am I dragging my husband around a lot? Yes.

Is he going to want to tear out his hair after visiting the umpteenth paper store? Probably.

I’m aware that my list for Tokyo is completely unrealistic considering that we’ll only be there for three days. If I do manage to get to all of those places, I’ll likely end up in an emergency room somewhere.

Is that going to stop me from going washi wild? No way.

Tyvek Craig

Many moons ago, I worked at CERF+ (it was called CERF back then). During my time there, Craig Nutt came on board as the director of programs. After nearly ten years with the organization, Craig recently retired from his position to return to work in his furniture studio. By the way, you must click on his name and check out his furniture – it’s fabulous.

I was contacted by Cornelia Carey, CERF+’s executive director, to create a commemorative book for Craig. As I mentioned in this post, individual pages were sent to 100 people to create a piece for inclusion in the book. Participants had two months to complete their work, after which the pages were collected and given to me for binding.

Now that the book has been presented to Craig, I can show you what I’ve been up to! Today’s post focuses my page – yep, I got to make one too!

For my design, I posterized a photo of Craig in Photoshop Elements to reduce it to three shades. I created a rectangular border around his head, adding text to it in white.

As I mentioned in this post, I painted three sheets of Tyvek for the project. I started with the medium shade of grey, which was the base of my piece. I attached a sheet of CODA cold-mount double release adhesive to the Tyvek and scored the back liner with an X-Acto knife. I then taped the Tyvek to the back of my template.

White Tyvek with double-sided adhesive sheet mounted on the back, taped to a sheet of paper

My first task was to cut out all of the light grey areas.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Once that was done, I peeled off the adhesive liner on the back.

Cut Tyvek with adhesive on the back

I took the light grey sheet of Tyvek and stuck it to the back of the medium grey sheet.

Layers of colored Tyvek stuck together

I then cut out the areas around Craig’s head, leaving tabs at the top and bottom. When assembled, the text border would overlap the tabs.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

On to the next layer!

I attached a sheet of adhesive to the black piece of Tyvek and scored the back liner with an X-Acto knife. I taped the Tyvek to the back of another copy of my template. I started work on the letters.

Cutting letters out of Tyvek

Cutting through the layers of paper, Tyvek, and adhesive was tough when it came to the letters. I really, really hate the letter S now. It’s EVIL. Thankfully, the Tyvek didn’t come out all chewed up like the paper template.

Cutting letters out of Tyvek

Once all of the letters were cut (it took a lloonnngggg time), I trimmed the edges of the border.

Cutting letters out of Tyvek

At this point, all I had left were the details – the dark areas on Craig’s face. I slapped adhesive on more black Tyvek and got to work.

The small bits really made the portrait come to life. This piece…

Cut Tyvek hair

…was hair.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Then more hair…

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

…and a mustache.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Don’t forget the eyebrows…

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

…and eyeballs.

Cutting portrait out of Tyvek

Finally, it was time to assemble the pieces. I trimmed the tabs on Craig’s head and peeled off the adhesive liner. I used another copy of the template to help me place his head in the right spot.

Cut Tyvek portrait adhered to a piece of paper

Once the head was in place, I slowly attached the border, making sure that it was straight and overlapped the tabs in the right places.

Adding cut text border to cut Tyvek portrait

And then BAM! It was done.

Cut Tyvek portrait of Craig Nutt

Then I stared at it for a long time. I couldn’t believe it was finished!

A couple of days later, I wrote a message to Craig on the bottom of the piece and signed it.

Cut Tyvek portrait of Craig Nutt

I feel like this post is making it sound like this project was easy peasy. It wasn’t. Unfortunately, I didn’t do a good job of tracking my time on this project but trust me – it took hours.

Would I do it again? Absolutely! Cutting Tyvek is really fun and it’s easier to work with than paper – it doesn’t tear as easily.

Some tips for cutting Tyvek:

  • Change that X-Acto blade. Often. It makes a huge difference.
  • Weights can be your best friend. They help keep the paper from slipping while you work.
  • If you find yourself getting frustrated – walk away from it and take a break. You will make more mistakes if you’re agitated when you work.
  • Don’t rush it – slow and steady is the way to go.

My next post will focus on the construction of Craig’s book – stay tuned!

(Another) Trip to Langdell Paper

The last stop on my recent 24 hour book arts tour was The Paper Room (a.k.a. Richard Langdell) in Lebanon, NH.

If you’ve followed my work for a while, you probably already know that I’ve been working with Richard’s paper forever. I just love it. It looks good, it feels good, I just want to hug it.

Richard made paper for 20 years when he lived in Vermont. He sold his business in 2010 to Whitney Korstange and Hilary Smith, founders of Maple Street Paper Company, and it was relocated to Michigan. Sadly, it appears as though the dream didn’t last long for Whitney and Hilary – their website says that they are currently closed and are actively looking for a buyer.

Even though the Langdell legacy is not likely to continue, we can rejoice in the fact that Richard still has an inventory of an estimated 10,000 sheets of paper.

The walls of his small studio are fully lined with tall shelves that look like this:

Handmade papers by Richard Langdell

So.much.paper. And it never stops being awesome. You can’t help but paw at it.

Handmade papers by Richard Langdell

Handmade papers by Richard Langdell

I have a pretty serious stash of his paper at the moment, so I didn’t get much this time around. I did buy a few sheets of a cream-colored paper with leaf inclusions and a turquoise paper with baby’s breath for a custom order.

Handmade papers by Richard Langdell

If you’re interested in buying some of Richard’s paper for yourself, then get thee to his Etsy shop! And if you have $12,000.00 kicking around (and lots of storage space), don’t miss this deal – 6,000 sheets of handmade paper for $2.00 a sheet!

Totally worth it.

A Bookbinder’s Black Friday

Another year, another Black Friday.

There is no big box shopping for me this year. My plan is to go into downtown Montpelier for Flannel Friday, our snuggly local version of this shopping day.

If you love making books like I do, then you might be interested in the fantastic online sales that are happening today (and throughout the weekend):


As part of their November sale, Oak Knoll Books is offering 20% off a selection of their books about bookbinding. No special code is needed – just click on the link and the discount is already applied to the book prices.

Pergamena, producer of stunning fine leathers and parchment, is offering 50% on all sheep parchment, full skins, and cut sheets. From 11/27 through 11/30, use code PERGSHEEP50 to get the discount.

Starting at midnight on 11/27 and ending at 11:59 p.m. on 11/28, John Neal, Bookseller is offering free standard shipping within the U.S. on all orders of $100 or more. Use code freeship at checkout for the discount.

From now until 11/30, Paper Mojo is offering discounts that increase with higher spending. Here’s the scoop: 15% 0ff $50.00 or more (code 15BF50), 20% off $75.00 or more (code 20BF75), and 25% off $100.00 or more (code 25BF100). Time to stock up on handmade and decorative papers!

Oh – there’s another paper place with discounts – it’s, uh, The Paper Place! Now through 11/30, they’re offering 20% off your purchase of $100.00 or more. Use code STOCKUP at checkout to get the discount. They’re sure to have something you like – they stock over 2,000 papers!

Cloth Paper Scissors is offering 50% storewide from now through Monday, November 30th until 11:59 p.m. Mountain time. This includes both paper and digital issues of their book arts magazine Pages. No code needed for the discount – just go directly to their website and shop!

On 11/27 you can get 40% off any one item at Impress Cards & Crafts. If you’re into twine (I sure am), you should check out their selection. They also have a good selection of papercrafting tools. Use code blackfriday2015 to get the discount.

And then there’s Paper Source – the origin of my bookbinding powers. As I’ve mentioned before, I learned how to make books while working there during my grad school days. Now through 11/30, get free standard shipping on online orders over $50.00 with code SHIP50.

Volcano Arts has a selection of overstock and clearance items marked 50% off – no code is needed, just visit their sale page and prices are as marked.

From now through 12/31/15, Arnold Grummer is offering a 20% discount on all paper and book presses. And on top of that, you can save an additional 10% by using code SHOPSMALL10. The coupon can be used on sale items and is good through Sunday, November 29th.

And if you’re more into Cyber Monday, on 11/30 Mechling Bookbindery is offering 50% of all leather, $20.00 off your purchase of $100.00 or more, and 40% of all books, DVDs, and CDs.

Happy shopping!

Worktable Wednesday

We’re attending a Bar Mitzvah this weekend and I decided to make a card to mark the occasion. I did a bit of Googling until I found this awesome origami Star of David tutorial. I’d just follow the video – it can’t be too difficult, right?

That 15 minute video turned into 45 minutes of pauses and rewinds. And there might have been some swearing.

I think that part of the problem was that my paper was too thick, but I was determined to use it anyway because it was pretty.

Thankfully, it only took two sheets of paper before I got it right. I think it turned out pretty well! I wanted to keep it for myself.

Origami star of David card

Origami star of David card

By the way, that card was in the press for several hours and it still wouldn’t get flatter than that. Yeah, my paper was way too thick.

GBW Standards of Excellence Seminar

GBW Seminar 2015 logoThe Guild of Book Workers recently opened up registration for their annual Seminar on Standards of Excellence in Hand Bookbinding. The conference is held in a different location every year and offers presentations by masters in the field of book and paper arts. In addition, the event includes tours of nearby binderies, libraries, and other book arts-related businesses.

This year the seminar is being held in Cleveland, Ohio (U.S.) on October 15 – 17.

This year’s presentations look great – here’s the lineup (from the GBW website):

The Devil is in the Details with Christina Amato:

Creating miniature books, which are generally defined as being under three inches in any dimension, presents a number of challenges as well as creative opportunities. For this presentation, Christina will be demonstrating and discussing making miniature books, with a focus on edition work and dealing with content. Choosing an appropriate binding structure, materials, and tools will be discussed, as well as general tips and tricks.

The Meeting Guard: Its Use Historically and Its Use in Fine Binding, Conservation and Artist Books with Bill Minter:

The binding of certain books can be a challenge: in some cases, the text paper might be too thick or stiff for the book to function properly; in diaries and record books, the writer wants the pages to lay perfectly flat; and in scrapbooks or albums, mounted materials might hinder the opening. These and other challenges can be addressed with a “meeting guard” binding structure.

In this presentation, we will be looking at historical bindings that use the meeting guard and explore its place in artist books and conservation binding. The demonstration will include making meeting guards and sewing them for use on a number of books. The emphasis will be to produce a fully functional book that meets our standards and provides the reader with a book that is user-friendly.

The Paper Has Been Shipped! with Andrea Peterson:

Andrea would like to take you behind the scenes as papermaker and designer by leading you through the process of creating speciality papers for bookbinders. We will be entertaining the possibilties of handmade papers and why a binder would be of any interest. You will see the process of stenciled and watermarked papers as well as more simple paper styles. Andrea will be presenting the components that are most important to handmade paper and binder as they move forward to create amazing works.

Registration is open now through September 29th and they only have space for 150 people. I attended the seminar in 2011 when they held it in Boston – it was fantastic and I highly recommend that you attend if you have the opportunity.

Can’t make it? Live vicariously through handouts from previous year’s presentations.

How Chiyogami is made

When I show my work at craft shows, I use a number of signs in my booth to give folks information about one thing or another. I have a selection of books that are made with Chiyogami paper (a.k.a. Yuzen), which is silk screened by hand in Japan and I have a small sign that talks a bit about that process.

Too bad I don’t have room to show a video in my booth. Thanks to Pinterest, I just found a wonderful video produced by the Japanese Paper Place that shows Chiyogami as it’s made. The video makes the process look easy, but I’m not fooled. I know that’s hard work.


For those of you who can’t see the embedded YouTube video, here’s the link.

A Bookbinder’s Black Friday

Bookbinder's Black Friday image

I used to have more of a stomach for Black Friday shopping. I would totally get up at an entirely unfriendly hour to take advantage of some wacky deal that seemed too good to pass up. Now I’d much rather sleep in.

If you’re at all like me, perhaps you would rather take advantage of the online deals (when not shopping locally). Luckily, there are some sales that may be of interest to you bookbinders out there (no waking up early!):

Arnold Grummer‘s is offering Black Friday discounts on presses and papermaking supplies.  All presses are 20% off! From now through 11/30/14, you can save an additional 13% on your order by using code BFSAVE13.

Paper-Papers is offering 50% off clearance items now through 12/1/14 with code clear121. In addition, they’re offering 10% off everything on their site through end of year – no code is required to get the discount.

Cloth Paper Scissors is offering 50% storewide from now until Wednesday, December 3rd until 11:59 p.m. Mountain time. This sale includes books, DVDs, and magazines. No need for a code – just go directly to their website and shop!

As I’ve mentioned many times before, I learned how to make books while working at Paper Source during my grad school days. I have lots of love for this store and what’s not to love about free shipping on online orders over $50.00? Now through December 1st, use code THANKS50 at checkout to get the discount.

Paper Mojo is one of my favorite paper sources – they have a great selection and the prices are reasonable. From now until 12:00 midnight EST on December 1st, Paper Mojo is letting you choose your own deal. You can either take 20% off your entire purchase with code BLACK2014 or you can get free domestic ground shipping on your $60+ order and get a free scrap pack with code FRIDAY2014.

Happy shopping!

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