An Inside Look at Paint & Calligraphy Papers April 25 2021

Character Appeal

Xuan - Super soft, absorbing ink consistently and evenly Pronounced "shwen," this paper provides a pristine surface for writing and painting. Handmade in historic, Anhui Province, China, Xuan has stood the test of time as the ink of ancient scrolls and paintings still retaining its vibrancy to this day. For all levels, this is a quality paper for practice and finished work and very affordable. Mini Xuan paper is a charming handmade paper for writing or incorporating mixed media. Made from recycled materials, including bamboo waste paper, here is a great paper for beginners. Economical and made to support hand/eye development for more solid practices. For all levels, this paper works widely for practice and finished work. Papers great for Asian-style calligraphy (shodō), sumi painting, and fish printing (gyotaku) A lovely assortment includes Kihosen Kana, handmade in Japan with a mix of mitsumata, bamboo, and kōzo fibers. This professional-grade sumi painting or calligraphy paper comes folded and may require a warm iron or just leave rolled for a few days. Currently we sell scroll-sized Kana paper in 10-sheet sets. Soonji made from white Korean mulberry paper (hanji) is also an excellent choice. There is no sizing which makes it absorbent and ideal for calligraphy, Sumi-e, and brush painting amongst other uses. Sunn is a very traditional paper developed in the 8th century for writing religious script and Persian miniature paintings. It is made from raw fermented and cooked hemp and then burnished by hand. The surface is coated with wheat starch, a sizing of egg-white, and alum, burnished with agate to provide a naturally sized surface with an incredible sheen. Yin Yang Dochim Hanji is a beautiful, heavyweight, and burnished mulberry paper. Fibers are compacted and "small-pored," making them great for applying ink with no bleeding. Rustic lokta papers from Nepal are not technically burnished but lokta fiber once made into a sheet is naturally small-pored. Japanese kōzo papers with a bit of internal sizing (sizing added to the vat before formation) are suitable for beginners to experts. If you are unsure what type of kōzo to use, start here for its versatility and price.
Rick Lowe brush painting on lokta paper.
Take a step toward further experimentation! These depicted here are some marvelous papers to explore.
Rona Conti wielding her calligraphy brush.

Sizing - Alum can be a key constituent of your work. When the paper is called "sized" there is usually alum involved. Traditional sizing or size is made with a recipe of animal skin glue and alum to create a barrier in or on the paper so ink does not absorb into the fibers. (Here's a vegan version to DIY sizing). Sized papers are less absorbent and more forgiving of water-based techniques, lending themselves to multiple paint and ink washes/modifications. In other words, sized papers "hold up" against liquids and pigments. Without sizing, paper can be highly absorbent and valued for depth and vividness, allowing painters and calligraphers further complexity to their imagery and characters. Professional brush painters look for the rate of ink absorption. Plus they look for a well-formed sheet which will have an even ink bleed no matter where you place your wet brush. Many of the pros use paper without sizing. Burnished, pressed, or "calendered" paper surfaces will often be sufficient to slow or stop paint from unwanted bleeding. You can bet that most papers from Asia are not sized. fricka-artist/writer/editor our papers help tell your story • want more?

Providence Monthly Focus on PCI February 26 2021

Check it out!

Lauren P. Sugita | Providence Media (
Get a glimpse into Lauren and PCI's match-making capabilities. Thank you Providence Monthly! . . . and Thank You Lauren for making a difference, in Providence for 25 years!! papermaking, washi, Japan, paper

Artist of the Month: Esteban Martinez December 12 2013

We didn't have to look too far to meet our next Artist of the Month: Esteban Martinez. How close? How about a next door neighbor! Rhode Island has a reputation for being small, where there exist three degrees of separation, with those degrees going down as the art scene in the Ocean State only gets stronger. As Mr. Martinez answers our famous questions, perhaps you can think of reaching out to a neighbor, business or otherwise, and see what kind of connections you can make: it's amazing how much in common we have, simply by asking. PCI: Tell us a little about yourself and your work, Esteban. What kind of artwork do you do? What or who influenced and inspired you? EM: Shodo, Japanese calligraphy. My main inspiration was my late Aikido teacher Fumio Toyoda Shihan. I also get inspiration from classical Zen calligraphers and martial artists.
Ordinary Mind by Esteban Martinez Ordinary Mind by Esteban Martinez
PCI: What attracts you to working with paper? EM: Well, 50% of good Shodo is having good paper. The other 50% is skill and ink. So paper is important. How paper reacts to ink, quality, size, will all affect the end result. PCI: What do you like best about working with paper? EM: How it reacts to the ink, and the effect it produces, whether it is dry or wet spots. It all gives the calligraphy a unique feel.
Esteban choosing papers at our warehouse. Esteban choosing papers at our warehouse.
Kihosen Kana  in bolts Kihosen Kana in bolts
PCI: In turn, which your pieces manifest. How did you hear about Paper Connection International? EM: Lauren is my next door neighbor! PCI: So who says good fences make good neighbors? How much knowledge did you have of washi before using our papers? EM: Just the basics of Japanese "rice" paper for calligraphy. I didn’t really got my hands on real handmade until Lauren gave me a piece of a beautiful paper called Kihosen Kana. PCI: A popular misnomer that Asian papers are made of "rice" materials. We are so glad you were introduced to that gorgeous paper, made out of kozo, or Japanese mulberry. How did Paper Connection help navigate and inform you about Japanese paper? EM: Through Lauren I have been learning the differences between machine made and hand made paper, and why handmade quality paper is so much better. IMG_8360 PCI: So what papers do you use of ours and for what process? EM: I got a whole block of Kihosen Kana handmade paper.
Kihosen Kana Paper Kihosen Kana Paper
PCI: What did you like about those papers that enhanced your creative and technical process? EM: The sumi ink flows beautifully in it and I really like how the calligraphy looks on it. PCI: Please explain some of the differences you have discovered between our papers and others you have worked with. EM: You can tell that the paper from PCI has been carefully sourced from the best places. The rest feels generic and poor quality. PCI: Based on your experience so far, what papers would you recommend to a fellow Shodo artist? EM: I like Kihonsen Kana paper for Shodo or Sumi-e because it has a beautiful texture and the sumi_ ink flows perfectly on it. PCI: I can envision the tranquility of each brushstroke as you describe that. Our famous bonus question: If you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be? And would you talk about paper? EM: I would like to have a conversation with Yamaoka Tesshu. He was a master swordsman and Japanese calligrapher. I would ask him how did he choose his paper and how he mounted them on scrolls. PCI: What a combination of skills! Surely that would be an enlightening conversation. Thank you so much, Esteban, for your time, and your support of Paper Connection International. We really appreciate it. And thank you for being such a nice neighbor! To find out more about Esteban Martinez, please visit his website: Gohitsu Shodo Studio, where you can also fan his Facebook page and see what he's up to on YouTube. I totally chilled to the background music while watching him at work. A great way to get inspired!