Rembrandt's Etchings and Japanese Washi Paper from Echizen

Delighted to read this post today from the Japanese Paper Place.

On Friday June 12th 2015, the Rembrandt House Museum will open an exhibition devoted to Rembrandt’s extraordinary choice for paper from Japan. It has long been known that Rembrandt made prints on this kind of paper, but it remained unclear from which region it originated. Recently researchers in Japan and in The Netherlands (Rijksmuseum) have started research on whether the paper originated from Japan and more particularly from the region of Echizen, located in Fukui Prefecture, Japan. Rembrandt was even a pioneer in the use of such valuable and exotic papers, starting around 1647. The only etched portrait of his son Titus was exclusively printed on Japanese paper. Dramatic comparisons with prints on western paper will reveal the effect of Rembrandt’s striking choice.

Rembrandt Etching on Echizen Washi / Rembrandt House Museum

Dutch East India Company (VOC)
Japanese paper was already known and used by Europeans for a while: the Jesuits had even printed books on it. From 1609 the Dutch East India Company (VOC) had a trading post (factory) in Japan, which used local paper for its own administration. However, the paper was also traded: to Taiwan, Batavia and even The Netherlands.

Japanese Paper
From approximately 1647 until his last etching in 1665, Rembrandt printed most of his copper plates regularly on Japanese paper, and he also used the paper for drawings. His prints on Eastern paper look clearly different from those printed on Western paper. The Japanese paper types which Rembrandt used are usually light-brown to light-yellow, and sometimes ivory-colored. They are often smooth and shiny, whilst Western paper has a more rough and matte surface.

Use by Rembrandt’s Contemporaries
Some students of Rembrandt and other contemporaries, like Philips Koninck, Pieter de With and Jan Lievens, used Japanese paper as well. It seems to have been highly valued by collectors. Several of Rembrandt’s followers in the 18th century also printed their etchings on Eastern paper. As far as can be presently determined, Rembrandt mainly used Japanese paper, but it is not known how it came to his possession.

Echizen Paper
Echizen is one of the earliest areas of paper production in Japan. As far as can be historically verified, Paper making likely began in Japan approximately in the seventh century and is documented for Echizen in the eighth century. The administration of the Dutch trading post in Hirado (later moved to Nagasaki) shows that the VOC regularly acquired Japanese paper for their own use in the period 1620-1660 and also shipped it to the VOC trading posts in Taiwan and Batavia in this period. The results of the research on whether Rembrandt used Echizen paper for some of his prints will is expected to be announced in May before the opening of the exhibition. The exhibition in The Rembrandt House Museum will also share with the public the details of the Echizen paper making process.

This exhibition was made possible with financial support from Mitsubishi Corporation and Fukui Prefecture.

June 12 - September 20

Museum Het Rembrandthuis  |  Jodenbreestraat 4, 1011 NK Amsterdam, Netherlands

Learn About Machine Made Japanese Washi Paper

Traditionally handmade washi is our passion, but that does not mean we don't admire and find great uses for machine made Japanese papers as well. Sometimes it has to do with price point or size and these papers are beautiful in their own right.

It was wonderful to come across this video fo the process of making Japanese paper by machine. It is also a process to be admires and hope you will enjoy the video from the Marujyu Paper Company.

Japanese Artist Sculpts Figures With Japanese Washi Paper

Washi Paper Sculptures in Matsumoto Japan


Matsumoto, a scenic Japanese city of about 250,000, sits in a wide, fertile valley between the northern Japan Alps and the Utsukushigahara Plateau. For most of the year, its major draws are its castle — Japan’s longest-standing, which, with five black-and-white tiers and a shiny wood interior, is a remarkable work of 16th-century craftsmanship — and the wealth of opportunities in the surrounding mountains for hikers, those who enjoy snow sports and lovers of hot-spring bathing. (from The Japan Times)

Image: Kamiyakata Shimayu Paper Company

Image: Kamiyakata Shimayu Paper Company

"In the Ote district near the castle, at the Kamiyakata Shimayu paper company, proprietress Eiko Ito sculpts fantastic demons and princes from thick Japanese washi paper." The Japan Times

Image: Kamiyakata Shimayu Paper Company

Image: Kamiyakata Shimayu Paper Company

Image: Kamiyakata Shimayu Paper Company

Image: Kamiyakata Shimayu Paper Company

Yuzen and Chiyogami · What is the Difference?

Yuzen and Chiyogami - What's the Difference?

Yuzen patterns were originally designed for the textile industry in Kyoto where the production of cloth for kimonos reached its zenith. Yuzen designs were very elaborate, and included a lot of gold.

Chiyogami is a specific word developed to describe the graphic, repetitive designs applied to paper in the Edo period. Originally these patterns were printed by woodblock for use in paper doll and small accessory making. In the twentieth century, these patterns began to be applied using silkscreens and this continues today.

Today, as Yuzen textile patterns join the traditional Chiyogami ones on paper, both terms are used interchangeably. We have chosen “Chiyogami” simply because it was the term originally created to refer to paper (-gami means paper).

Chiyogami Handscreened Patterns on Japanese Paper

To see a great assortment of Washi Arts Chiyogami / Yuzen, go to

Nancy Jacobi: Inspired by Washi

From Shepherds Fine Papers who have been trading since 1973 in the heart of London, serving customers from all walks of life; be it for printmaking, bookbinding, wedding stationery, or even hat making - they will certainly have something that will be of use to any creative artist or designer.

Japanese Washi expert Nancy Jacobi is giving a lecture at ICON: Adapt and Evolve conference in London, UK on Friday April 10th from 10.30 – 11.30 (more details here), and will be making a welcomed additional visit to the Shepherd's Gillingham Street Store on Friday 10th April to talk about Japanese Paper and its part in Western printmaking.

Throughout history, printmakers such as Rembrandt have often understood the absorbency and beauty of washi and the unique imagery it creates. Today, with the use of screenprinting, etching, lino cutting, and chine colle there are so many contemporary artists, like Simon Fowler, Emilie Pugh and Daniel Clark  (to name but a few), who are exploring the potential of washi in exciting new ways since it has become more accessible in a wide range through Shepherds in the UK

Connect with some surprising works of great European artists who adopted Washi early on to maximize their expression. Be inspired by 21st century examples by artists and craftspersons who are using its strength, translucence, malleability and tactility to create unique works - and whole new genres of art and craft.

Illustrated talk by Nancy Jacobi  from The Japanese Paper Place.

Very pleased to add that special guests; Japanese Papermaker Yasumasa Kubo (maker UNESCO designated Hosokawa), as well as Takao Moriki (of Moriki Kozo fame) will also be in attendance, so we will be in good company.

This seminar is free to all, and will be accompanied by light refreshments. Shepherd's will also be offering discounts on Japanese Paper and other Archival Products on the evening.

Striking Photography on Gampi / Artist Albarrán Cabrera

This wonderful Platinum/Palladium print is on Gampi paper – such a striking effect. The photographer is Albarran Cabrera (

Albarran Cabrera · The Mouth of Krishna

Albarran Cabrera · The Mouth of Krishna

From Albarran Cabrera's "This is you" series which you can read about on his website at The works honor the memory of his grandfather and celebrates family. The print below is pigment / gold leaf print on gampi.

Albarran Cabrera · This is You

Albarran Cabrera · This is You

This image, also from the "This is you" series, is a postcard images printed with pigment / gold leaf on gampi.


Albarran Cabrera · This is You

Albarran Cabrera · This is You

To look at available gampi papers go to




Takahiko Hayashi Works on Gampi Paper · Froelick Gallery Exhibit

From Froelick Gallery – In Takahiko Hayashi's new show, in a swirl of many, many small circles, he presents minutely detailed vortices of blue ink pen strokes, spinning coronas of stellar forms and cyclonic clouds of fine hatched lines that suggest celestial bodies or stormy oceans. Building mark upon mark, his ink glimmers with saturation. Within these maelstroms are tiny perforations in the paper surface, encircled with drips of white or bright green paint- these tiny eruptions forming slight topographic features on the surface of his fibrous, thin-but-strong gampi paper.

Drawing  Ink on paper    16.5 x 11 in This unique drawing is on Gampi paper. The overall paper measures 21.5 x 15.5 inches.

Drawing Ink on paper  
16.5 x 11 in This unique drawing is on Gampi paper. The overall paper measures 21.5 x 15.5 inches.

About Takahiko Hayashi

Born in Japan, Takahiko Hayashi received his BFA in Oil Painting from Musashino Art University in 1985 and his MFA in Printmaking from Tokyo National University of Arts in 1987, both in Japan. Hayashi's work has been exhibited in over 140 solo shows around the world since 1985, as well as an impressive number of group exhibitions. Hayahshi's work is featured in the collections of: the Art Gallery of New South Wales in Australia, Kurobe City Museum of Art in Japan, Los Angeles Musum of Art in California, the Museum of Modern Art in Japan, and more. (From Froelick Gallery)

Drawing  Ink on paper    16.5 x 11 in This unique drawing is on Gampi paper. The overall paper measures 21.5 x 15.5 inches.

Drawing Ink on paper  
16.5 x 11 in This unique drawing is on Gampi paper. The overall paper measures 21.5 x 15.5 inches.

About Froelick Gallery

Froelick Gallery exhibits and represents contemporary artists with strong and independent voices. Many of their artists live in the Pacific Northwest, others live in the Gulf Coast, Brooklyn, and Tokyo. Their works include many media, encompass many genre, and their careers range from emerging to established.

Drawing  Ink on paper    16.5 x 11 in This unique drawing is on Gampi paper. The overall paper measures 21.5 x 15.5 inches.

Drawing Ink on paper  
16.5 x 11 in This unique drawing is on Gampi paper. The overall paper measures 21.5 x 15.5 inches.

About Gampi Paper

Gampi is made from the inner bark of the gampi bush which must be obtained in the wild. Japanese gampi is very shiny even after being formed into paper. Gampi is favoured by artists who want tone and a luminous surface for all types of printing, calligraphy, collage, and drawing. Gampi papers have natural sizing, restricting the amount of bleed when written or painted on.

Drawing Ink on paper  
16.5 x 11 in This unique drawing is on Gampi paper. The overall paper measures 21.5 x 15.5 inches.

To view a selection of Washi Arts gampi paper to create your own unique works, click here.

Kyoseishi Momi Papers for Artists

"Momi" or crinkled papers have a uniquely textured surface and much more cloth-like "drape" than most other papers. Their texture makes them a unique choice for collage, and their strength and durability makes them particularly well suited for bookbinding and boxmaking.

But these papers are used by artists in unique ways as well. Scriptum Fine Japanese Prints has prints from artist Sadao Watanabe who creates striking color stencil prints on hand crumpled momi-gami paper. His work is inspiring.

Artist Sadao Watanabe · Print offered for sale by Scriptum Fine Japanese Prints   ·  Five Kyoseishi Momi papers to create your own unique prints and collages

Artist Sadao Watanabe · Print offered for sale by Scriptum Fine Japanese Prints   ·  Five Kyoseishi Momi papers to create your own unique prints and collages

About the Artist · Sadao Watanabe

Sadao Watanabe was a Japanese printmaker in the 20th Century. Watanabe was famous for his biblical prints rendered in the mingei (folk art) tradition of Japan. As a student of the master textile dye artist Serizawa Keisuke (1895–1984), Watanabe was associated with the mingei (folk art) movement. (Wikipedia

About Scriptum Fine Japanese Prints

Scriptum was established in 1999 and deals in JAPANESE PRINTS, particularly Prints of the late 19th and 20th century – Shin Hanga and Sosaku Hanga – and in Contemporary Japanese Print Artist. (

About Kyoseishi Momi

Washi Arts sells a premium hand-crumpled Kyoseishi line, with a high kozo content and treated with konnyaku for extra strength and some water-resistance. Available in parent sheets 43" x 31" and half sheets, as well sa 8-1/2" x 11" by special order. Click here to order.

Moriki Kozo for Conservation and Repair

On Instagram today,  Kristen Hartman, a University of Iowa Book Arts MFA Candidate posted a wonderful photo of working with Moriki tissue.

Kristen Hartman · Instagram

Kristen Hartman · Instagram

"Tinting some Moriki Japanese tissue with acrylics and methel cellulose for repairs on this leather spine. Color tinting is the best!" ~ Kristen Hartman

Original Moriki papers are no longer made. To browse the limited remaining stock, click here.

Japanese Washi Paper Kites Are Sculptural Art Created By Nine Kite Artists in Kochi Japan

Fantastic kites made of handmade Japanese washi paper show off the craft of the papermaker and the artistic and engineering skill of the kitemaker. These fantastic washi kites are works of art that are displayed in the sky rather than on the walls of a traditional gallery.

This video shows a group of kite artists visiting the Japanese papermaking village of Kochi to learn more about washi and harness its wonderful attributes for their flying art.

The washi kite artists use watercolor, collage, quilt techniques, assemblage, traditional Japanese painting to name just a few. The resulting flying washi sculptures are wonderful. Some are sophisticated, some are fun, some are colorful and some are traaditional. All are wonderful creative explorations.

Translucent Washi for Home Decor

The Japan News carried a lovely article today on using translucent colored washi for home decor.

A Hibiscus flower design made of transparent paper  ·  Courtesy of Nakamuraya

A Hibiscus flower design made of transparent paper  ·  Courtesy of Nakamuraya

"Transparent paper” is becoming a popular choice for room decor, offering people the chance to add splashes of color to their homes by folding the paper into such shapes as flowers and stars. Like origami paper folding, the translucent colored sheets can easily be made into decorations that can be pasted on window glass and hung from the ceiling.

Decorations made from transparent paper in a variety of colors are striking when hung by windows ·   Courtesy of Megumi Suzuki

Decorations made from transparent paper in a variety of colors are striking when hung by windows · Courtesy of Megumi Suzuki

The Process of Making a Karibari Drying Board of Washi

Zacarias Garcia, a Spanish freelance photographer and videographer based in Washington DC, USA posted this overview and video on Vimeo showing the making of a Karibari board of washi at the Folger Sheakspear Museum in Washington, DC

"A Karibari, a Japanese drying board, is one of the systems paper conservators use to dry objects after washing them during the process of their restoration.

This is a millennial technique used for paintings, manuscripts or textiles after being washed. The origin of the board can be found as doors in the Japanese architecture, in which people hung pieces of art more than two thousand years ago.

This documentary shows the process of making a Karibari. This is not supposed to be an instruction manual of how to make it, but a demonstration of how to make it." ~Zacarias Garcia

Conservation of Railway Posters Using Washi

Very interesting and informative blog post by Vicky Hanley of the National Museum of Scotland explains how her team used washi in several steps of conserving and mounting vintage railway posters for an exhibition

See Scotland by Train

Read the blog post and see the detailed process images at

Washi Fashion · From Kimono to Coats

From the Japan Times, an interesting article on a washi fashion show that featured a variety of paper garments, from kimono to coats.

A town in Saitama Prefecture known for its washi industry has held a fashion show featuring garments made from the traditional handmade paper to celebrate its addition to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage List last November.

The show Wednesday in the town of Ogawa, co-organized with the neighboring municipality of Higashi-Chichibu, focused on the washi brand known as “hosokawashi,” and attracted about 650 spectators. Both municipalities are known for their “tesuki” (made by hand) craftsmanship.

The show showcased pieces from kimono-shaped gowns to modern coats. The materials were marbled with dyes such as persimmon juice and black ink, and softened to make them feel like cloth. The clothing line was designed and made by Taki Okajima, a Tokyo-based designer. known for producing art using washi and cotton fabrics. Okajima’s works were presented by amateur models recruited from clothing and design schools in Tokyo.

“It’s warm and light and I like the design,” said Kosuke Kondo, a 22-year-old student at a fashion school in Tokyo who was one of the models strutting the catwalk.

“It made me realize I should appreciate traditional Japanese art,” he said.

Saitama Prefecture is one of the three areas in Japan where the traditional art of washi has been passed down. The other two are in Gifu and Shimane prefectures.

Hosokawashi secured UNESCO recognition in November along with the “sekishubanshi” brand from Shimane, and “honminoshi” from Gifu

Unesco Designates Japanese Washi Paper as Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity

Japan’s traditional art of making “washi” paper – a millennium-old craft – has been officially added to UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

UNESCO Designates Washi as an Intangible Cultural Heritage Item

UNESCO Designates Washi as an Intangible Cultural Heritage Item

The traditional craft of hand-making paper, or Washi, is practised in three communities in Japan: Misumi-cho in Hamada City, Shimane Prefecture, Mino City in Gifu Prefecture and Ogawa Town/Higashi-chichibu Village in Saitama Prefecture. The paper is made from the fibres of the paper mulberry plant, which are soaked in clear river water, thickened, and then filtered through a bamboo screen. Washi paper is used not only for letter writing and books, but also in home interiors to make paper screens, room dividers and sliding doors. Most of the inhabitants of the three communities play roles in keeping this craftsmanship viable, ranging from the cultivation of mulberry, training in the techniques, and the creation of new products to promote Washi domestically and abroad. Washi papermaking is transmitted on three levels: among families of Washi craftspeople, through preservation associations and by local municipalities. Families and their employees work and learn under Washi masters, who have inherited the techniques from their parents. All the people living in the communities take pride in their tradition of Washi-making and regard it as the symbol of their cultural identity. Washi also fosters social cohesion, as the communities comprise people directly engaged in or closely related to the practice.