The Future of Washi (Paper)

Washi paper

Washi cufflinks
Image by craftapalooza via Flickr
Washi paper brooch
Image by craftapalooza via Flickr

Here is the last installment from the article entitled: World Papers and Washi. In the reference section of this blog post, you can find the link to the parent site from which this article was printed in full.

Located below, find other sections under this title posts previously under the blog, Mysterious Japan.

The Discovery of Paper:

The Development of Japanese Washi:

Washi and Its Reputation:

■Old yet new: the future of washi
 Today’s information society has raised a number of issues relating to the future of paper. Despite the growth of new electronic media, the consumption of paper is increasing, which in turn has led to such environmental problems as reductions in forest resources and increased waste. Washi has also had to face the power of economics. Having been replaced in many households by plastic utensils, it retains its unique raison d’ere largely in traditional events and in the hobbies that enrich people’s spiritual lives. Fortunately, there has been renewed interest in the aesthetic values of washi. Paper’s versatility has been highlighted by the increased popularity of the material as a new art medium. Originating in the United States and quickly spreading to the rest of the world, this type of art regards paper as more than a flat surface to be worked upon. Instead, paper fiber is considered an art material in itself and a catalyst for the creative process. Other materials may be integrated with the pulp to form three-dimensional shapes that may be further folded, dyed or torn. Techniques such as collage, assemblage, flottage and papier-colle(the pasting of newspaper or wallpaper) are also used. Combining paper with fabric, leather, metals, and other materials in new and uninhibited ways has been accepted by artists worldwide as a new field of plastic art, and through this, washi has once again become a focus of attention. The plastic art of paper has deep roots in Japan, where paper itself is appreciated as a work of art. Dyed paper in a range of colors, sukimoyo-gami (where the pattern is an internal part of the paper itself and is created during the formation process), paper  incorporating flowers and plants, paper folded or cut into shapes, crumpled paper, and paper strings – wide variety of paper products are made into both furniture and furnishings to add convenience and beauty to life. It might also be noted that Japan’s recycling of waste paper began in the eighth century. As people rediscover the beauty of antique folding fans, round fans, paper lanterns, paper-shaded table lamps, bamboo and paper umbrellas, papered sliding doors and screens, standing screens, and other paper products, these articles serve as a source of modern motifs for interior decoration and installations. Washi is a highly suitable material for these projects because of its strength, and the paper used can be recycled. Some have even named this new trend of paper art “the renaissance of paper” Plants thrive as long as water, carbon dioxide, nutrients and sunlight are available. They also provide all living things with the oxygen needed for life. After being consumed, they revert to their origins, water and carbon dioxide. With this cycle in mind, we should change our way of thinking from one of casually using paper because it is available to one of using paper for purposes only paper can meet. Furthermore, in addition to promoting forestation projects, research must be conducted into the use of such non-wood materials as kenaf, an annual plant native to India and other parts of the world, and how to deal with lignin, a natural substance contained in plants that breaks down paper and thus is an unneeded byproduct. Japan’s history of respect for paper and artistic use of paper offers suggestions for the future.



Old Yet New: The Future of Washi:

5 thoughts on “The Future of Washi (Paper)

  1. I’m so glad that you enjoyed it. I really enjoy working with washi paper, whether as an origami project, canvas for an art project or making paper dolls. I so enjoyed sharing this series as well.

  2. I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this series also, Ledia, thank you so much for sharing it.

    I’m also dropping by to let you know that I have presented you with the 7×7 Link award for your blog – please visit my blog for more details.

    Congratulations; I hope you enjoy your award! ~ Julie 🙂

    1. You are so kind, Julie. The fact that you and several others take the time to comment, makes me very happy and feel as if the time and energy I put into this blog is well worth it.

      Thank you for the award. That you thought of me is very nice and I appreciate it very, very much.

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