Tuesday, 5 June 2012

Why Make Katzome Stencil Paper?

I heard that there was a TV program on Japanese television about making persimmon tannin stencil paper a few nights ago.  Strange.... because I started making persimmon tannin stencil paper a few days ago by coincidence.

The Katagami exhibition has got the wheels turning with a few of us these days. The history and evolution of stencil making has caught our imagination and we want to make the journey south in Japan to Ise to visit the museums and remaining artisans studios.

There are three specific things we want to investigate.

To observe as many steps as possible and ask as many questions as possible about  the actual production of the smoked persimmon tannin paper that takes two years to complete.

There are a variety of stencil cutting techniques and finishing processes to explore. There is an organization that meets on the last Sunday of each month that is dedicated to the preservation of stencil cutting.

To visit museums and take in as many designs and historical information as we can.

The idea of making persimmon tannin stencil paper has crossed my mind over the years. I make paper from the mulberry bark after feeding the leaves to the silkworms. I wonder.....

A new craft shop opened just doors down from the Canadian Embassy where I visited a few days back to get a new passport. They were selling some beautiful Japanese handmade washi paper. I bought a stack and we started the process on Tuesday. I doubt it will be that much of a success, especially since the paper must be smoked with cedar sawdust for ten days...twice. I figure the trip south to investigate this skill will be much more meaningful with a failed attempt behind us than to show up total tourists.

I dug out an ink stone, some charcoal and a ink stone wetter vessel that Tohei had made many years ago. We wrote our names or symbols of our names and persimmon tannined sheets of handmade paper together. The breeze blew gently through the young adult green leaves and we silently prayed to ourselves for success.

So far so good. Even if they don't become stencil paper the paper itself looks great.


  1. onesmallstitch6 June 2012 at 06:13

    looks fantastic - we didn't get to do this! I'll have to come back. Think I'd get arrested if I tried smoking anything! in Oak Bay.

    1. Hi Jean:
      I would have to kidnap the whole group for a year to teach this. That's what you get for living in beautiful Oak Bay! There has to be some salmon smokers not that far from you though!

    2. Hi Neki:
      I messed up and deleted your comment and can't find it anywhere. I am so sorry. Yes. Tohei's ceramics are just amazing, He is making pizza now and giving pottery a break. This drives me crazy to see such a talented artist not making art. No matter how I try to get him back at the pottery wheel he finds an excuse not to.
      I know what it is like to have treasures found in Japan that gather dust on the shelf. Recently with house renovations I was able to dig sleeping stuff out and use it. It felt good.

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  3. These photos made my heart skip a beat.


  4. the paper, well, bryan, paper sings to me. and the persimmon stencil paper...i bought a piece 20 or so years ago, and put it away. now i see. i wonder what my own paper, particularly milkweed paper, would be like with persimmon. i bought some at the japanese paper place, so maybe this summer i'll mix it up and see, after my oz trip.

    1. Velma san,
      I've never really had a miss with persimmon dying except with some attempted over dyes with green. Gunky color results. Keep the solution somewhat diluted. Iron the paper each time it dries. Good luck.