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American craftsmen working with washi in Japan

Here’s a good story in the Japan Times about american artisans living in Japan, learning and then teaching others to make washi. It also talks about the efforts to keep the papermaking tradition alive in a country that is speeding headlong into the future, often at the expense of ancient methods, processes and skillsets.

Since he likes the traditional Japanese aesthetic of “wabi sabi,” which connotes austere beauty and elegant simplicity, he often uses what he calls “tone-downed color,” such as earth colors and charcoal gray, to give it a more “warm or natural feel.”

Some of Flavin’s washi, including paper made from kozo and from pineapple, was listed in an updated version of a book of paper samples titled “Washi — Handmade Paper of Japan,” which was published in 2006 by the nationwide association of handmade paper makers.

“Mr. Flavin cultivates the raw material himself, and is sticking to the ancient form of papermaking,” said Shohei Asano, president of a washi paper outlet in Tokyo who helped compile the book.

The Japan Times, January 6th, 2007

Thanks to Mark Kennedy on the O-list for the link!

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