Chiyogami paper from Japan: Tools of my Trade

Chiyogami paper from Japan: Tools of my Trade

Chiyogami is the Japanese name of the lustrous paper you see in the photos here.  Here it is written in Japanese – 千代紙 . The character at the end  紙 means paper and pronounced ‘kami’ in Japanese.

The Japanese paper more familiar to us is of course origami – 折り紙 . That tends to be a lot cheaper, but it was the pricier, gold-embellished variety that I took to. I first discovered it while living in Japan for 18 months and it features in much of my recent work.

CHIYOGAMI: A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

Chiyogami paper, also known as yuzen, was developed in the Edo period in Japan by skilled craftsmen. The vibrant patterns are silk-screened and if they remind you of kimono fabric that’s because that was the inspiration for the colourful surface designs. That’s why in traditional designs you’ll spot typically Japanese themes: cherry blossom and autumn leaves, for instance. The picture you see above was a pricier piece, but there are now cheaper alternatives.

chiyogami paper stationery store kokura japan

  • Shepherd Falkiners store in London have a stunning and ever-changing variety. Order online or even better, go into the shop itself if you’re in town. It’s fab and stocks even more than Japanese paper. They will deliver to you rolled and packaged in a protective cardboard tube.
  • Washi in Denmark has a glowing selection of chiyogami and marbled papers, plus some of those gorgeous larger pieces which you can pop in a frame and brighten up a blank wall.
  • The Rare Orchid boasts a vibrant website. I received a beautifully-packaged batch of sumptuous paper from their Californian base last summer and can’t wait to use it in my work. And they’ve just brought out a new range!
  • Washi Arts (USA) has a great Instagram page and you can buy an impressive array of not only papers but tools and artist supplies too (check out the chiyogami pencils!).
  • Mulberry Paper, an Aladdin’s cave of hues, just waiting for me to drop in with a large shopping bag.
  • The Japanese Paper Place in Toronto, Canada is only for wholesale, but it’s worth a look for the informative website.
  • Lastly try Japonerias which has lots of colourful bits and bobs, including chiyogami. The site is in Spanish. Edited to say: Also in English. I think it defaulted Spanish because I’m in the Canaries (a good excuse to pop overboard to Spain on my way back to Glasgow and stock up! 😉 ).

CAN I BUY IT IN JAPAN?

chiyogami pink red sakura gold stunning

HOW I USE CHIYOGAMI

I posted a bit about my work here the other day. I add random strips of chiyogami torn from larger sheets or cut out rings and circles to collage onto my brightly-coloured abstracts. It seems a bit of a sacrilege to rip this precious paper up and only buy it for this reason. Additionally, I cut out frames with my metal ruler and cutting board to edge cards and larger artworks.

chiyogami purple background pink white flowers

Do you know any other places to buy Japanese paper? Drop me a line in the comments below.

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