Letterpress Printing on Washi

Hand set type / letterpress is one of the oldest printing methods and is extremely well-suited to using washi

Nao Shibuya · Letterpress on Washi   

Nao Shibuya · Letterpress on Washi


Tips and Things to Consider· if you dampen your paper do so by misting or placing between layers of dampened newsprint in a damp pack (should be done several hours ahead)

· a carrier sheet can be useful when working with dampened washi, especially with larger sheets

· many papers print well without dampening, especially gampi

· ink can go right through thinner papers when printing – consider printing with a layer of newsprint behind to protect baren or press

· thinner papers dry out quickly – print with first layer of newsprint dampened as well as impression paper and an additional dry newsprint layer

· when choosing inks be aware of the method of drying for that brand: inks that rely on absorption are best avoided when printing on thinner papers. The use of drying additives may be advised

Paper Suggestions

Most types of washi will work – though kozo is strongest when printing with a press –  slightly heavier papers are often preferred including those with some wood pulp content

Currently we stock the following papers which are excellent for letterpress and relief printing.

Mura Udaban A Itaboshi  · 100% Thai kozo·  Handmade with four deckle edges·  Dried on wood·  Unsized·  64g·   (available as a full sheet 17" x 56") udaban refers to the long format of the paper traditionally used for scroll mounting·  a relatively heavy paper

Oguni Fudagami Large  ·  100% Chinese kozo·  58g·  Handmade with four deckle edges· Unsized·  Available in full sheets 25.5" x 39"  ·  produced in Niigata·  a strong relatively thick paper made using traditional methods·  fudagami translates to label papers – strong papers made for labels for products including sake and kimonos.

Seichosen Kozo Yotsuban  ·  100% Japanese kozo·  Dried on wood·  50g·  Dried on wood boards·  River (sunlight) bleached·  Available in full sheets 29 x 40" 

Torinoko Kozo Natural White  ·  100% Japanese kozo·  180g

Tosaji Cream  ·  60% Thai kozo·  40% sulphite·  Handmade with four deckle edges·  Unsized·  One of the heavier handmade papers available,  ·  118g·  Available in full sheets 20" x 26"

Usu Kuchi Extra Heavy  ·  100% Thai kozo·  Machine-made·  Unsized·  Relatively heavy·  Absorbent·  Takes color well·  65g·  Available in full sheets 25 x 37"

Uwa Senka Long  ·  100% Thai kozo·  Handmade with four deckle edges·  Unsized·  55g·  Available in full sheets 14 x 38.5"  ·

Yuki Gampi ·  100% Phillipine Gampi·  Handmade with four deckle edges·    Unsized·  Dried on wood·  45g·  Substantial gampi paper with a distinctive creamy color·  luxurious surface – more eggshell than the pearly quality of many gampi papers·  Almost opaque

Kozuke White and Ivory

Kozuke Ivory Heavy

Gampi Smooth


Washi Arts offers a sampler / assortment of "Heavier Weight Washi for Letterpress Printing" Click here to view / order.

Don't discount using thin papers – great results can be achieved with some extra care.



Image provided by The Japanese Paper Place·  Artist Brian Kelly·  Title Game  ·  Woodcut

All information courtesy of The Japanese Paper Place
Reproduction by permission only