Katazome: The Bigger Picture September 14 2022

I am obsessed with this process. I mean, who came up with such an ingenious way to print pattern?!? Ingenious but laborious. There are so many steps; it truly needs to be a collaborative process. There's the papermaker, dyer, stencil carver, the pasting process, the washing process, and then the painter who applies each color with a specialized set of brushes, often made from the tale of a badger. But it is so worth it! Here are the basics: A rice starch paste resist is applied through a “kata,” or stencil form onto the surface of a medium-weight kōzo (mulberry) paper. After the paste is dried, the paper is washed in a tub, or sprayed with a hose, and dried again. Pigment is applied by hand using a badger-tail brush; color by color brushed on, and left to dry between applications. The pigment is absorbed into the paper wherever there is no leftover paste resist. The paste serves exactly the same function as wax does when doing batik. Here are two close-ups of stencils which were a gift from a beloved client.
kata, stencil, katagami, carved paper "kata" or stencil form with gauze
kata, katagami, stencil, carved paperIt is more difficult these days to find the unique thick or multi-ply, persimmon juice-dyed papers (katagami) used to make the stencil, so these days you have to make do with other materials, or carefully use an old stencil if you dare! They're really works of art in themselves! These images of katazome on paper are to show you how complicated and intricate the patterns can be. You can imagine how this is done on silk or cotton cloth. The katazome paper stocked at Paper Connection is typically a whole sheet with a repeat pattern. Like this one-which is pretty incredible considering someone hand-carved all those curves and tiny leaves or these 2. All those stripes are hand carved first as a stencil! Many of the designs in our collection are based on Okinawan Bingata traditional designs, as well as designs reminiscent of exotic Southeast Asian batiks called Sarasa. Post by the original PAPERWOMAN.

Artist of the Month: Joan Son March 11 2014

Her name evokes light, bright, warm light to me, and when you see her AMAZING works, (yes, that is all in CAPS for a reason), you will feel the same light too: paper transformed into creatures and works that come alive, and feel like they can float away, tempting you to put your fingers on them, feel the fiber that encases them, and even wear them. Meet the one and only Joan Son. I have had the privilege of giving 2 presentations with Joan Son and have been to her studio/residence several times in Houston, TX. Joan is a most gracious host. I cherish her warmth, kindness and years of friendship. Joan's glowing personality is truly manifested in her incredible talent of transforming paper into life-like sculptures. I hope you enjoy reading her perspective on paper as much as I did. PCI: What kind of artwork do you do? What or who has influenced and inspired you? JS: I am an artist working in the medium of paper based in the discipline of origami. For the past 21, years since my debut in the windows of Tiffany & Co. (Houston Galleria), I have devoted my career to the exploration of contemporary origami as fine art. My art has developed into finely crafted gift items for museum shops beginning at the Smithsonian in 1995; larger commissioned works for public and private venues and origami instruction nationally at Origami Conventions and in Houston at numerous educational facilities.
Bamboo Bamboo
PCI: What attracts you to working with paper? JS: I have always loved paper. My first love was designing paper doll dresses when I was 9 years old. So even my mother’s typing paper, lined school papers and tissue paper were attractive to me from very early on. I was totally intrigued making carnation like flowers with tissue paper. Even now when paper towels or napkins are on my grocery list I get excited wondering what patterns will be available. The commercial stuff is always changing. zooslide PCI: What do you like best about working with paper? I'm so curious as you have such a literal hands-on approach. JS: I like to say that paper is sculptable and forgiving. I love that about paper. It works into to all of my art pieces. It is much more durable that most folks think. PCI: I love the choice of words "forgiving" and "durable", it's almost like you are describing an amazing person. Please share how we met. JS: Your wonderful papers were represented by a commercial paper company (Clampitt Paper in Houston, TX). Their representative gave me your contact information and I have been passionate about your papers through all your evolutions. Since 1993 when I was working in a design firm, creating brochures, annual reports… and dabbling in my own creative process, I've been using them for everything from butterfly pins, collage works, to 8-foot tall paper Kimonos. PCI: Hopefully I've been evolving in a progressive way! And our papers reflect that. We are so happy that we have such a long-term solid relationship. It's reliable artists like yourself that help small business keep going. Did you have much knowledge about Japanese papers before using our line? JS: Very, very little… only Origami papers. PCI: In what ways did Paper Connection help navigate and perhaps inform you about Japanese paper? JS: In every way. You and I did a presentation together for Texas Art Supply here in Houston a few years ago. It was fascinating to see and hear about your travels in Asia and all the details and nuances of these exquisite papers. PCI: What papers do you use of ours and for what process? What did you like about those papers that aided in your creative and/or technical process? JS: Japanese Yuzen and Katazome paper are delicious, the Laurelai design papers, (see the Yoga Garden Robe), are fun and add a distinct personality to my designs. Looking through the catalog now I see there are so many more I still have to work with. I can hardly wait! I use your papers for many of my collage pieces, origami pieces and display.
paper sculpture Yoga Garden Robe by Joan Son, using several of the Laurelai papers
The Robe Series by Joan Son The Robe Series by Joan Son
PCI: What are some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with? JS: Paper Connection always has the highest quality papers. PCI: Thank you so much! We really try to represent the best in handmade papers for those like yourself who truly appreciate them. Word game for you: fill in the blank, if you had to recommend a Paper Connection paper for a particular application: JS: I like Daitoku papers for their simple gold touches and natural beauty. Plus they have saved my life on two projects where I needed a very large sheet. These measure 37 x 72 inches. Perfect!
bookmarks, Laurelai Designs Laurelai bookmarks by Joan Son
money holders, business card holders Joan loves the Laurelai papers for many things, including bookmarks and wallets.
PCI: That paper is an oldie but goodie. 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? JS: PATTI SMITH. As I strive to make my work more deeply meaningful first to myself and that it be illuminating for others… this veteran rock and roll artist transcends all levels for me. She continues to inform our world with her tenderness and fury. And that she continues to evolve her art into all the years of her life. I think the conversation of paper would come up easily with Patti. I’m sure we would be tearing it or making it into butterflies right away. PCI: Yes! A musician! To say the least. A poet. You surely would. Can I dance along? Thank you Joan, for all you do for Paper Connection and the paper world. Check out this BIG NEWS for Joan! She opens a new body of work in Houston at the Jung Center Gallery in April 2014. We have included the Press Release:
looking back to move forward
a retrospective
a coming full circle
a beginning
When: Opening night Saturday April 5, 2014 Where: Jung Center Gallery 5200 Montrose, Houston, Texas 77006 Time: 5:00 to 7:00 On view through April 29, 2014 If you are in the Houston we highly recommend you attend. We wish we could be there ourselves.
Joan Son is an American artist who has devoted her career to the exploration of contemporary origami as fine art.
Now, through an Individual Artist Grant from the city of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, she shows a side of herself that has been hiding for 50 years.
TIME TRAVELERS brings her art full circle with paper doll dress designs she created when she was 9 years old. From these early paintings (that luckily her mother saved!) Joan is constructing full size paper dresses that will be displayed on lighted 6 foot plexiglass cylinders suggesting portals of time. Her story is inspired by this quote from Carl Jung...
“What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.” Joan raised additional funds through her Kickstarter campaign and may be best known for her origami art that debuted in the windows of Tiffany & Co. in 1993. During the past 21 years she has developed her art as gift pieces for museum shops around the country beginning with the Smithsonian in 1995, been commissioned for larger art works both public and private and worked as an instructor of origami nationally and locally.
Much more of the story here on Kickstarter...
paper dresses
paper sculpture
Time Travelers. These 2 dresses use very common onion skin paper and letterhead papers on which Joan Son painted.
For more information on Joan Son, please visit her website:
You may recognize her works:
Houston Museum of Natural Science
Lady Bird Johnson Wildflower Center
Menil Collection Artist Eye presentation
Neiman Marcus
Tiffany & Co. Houston Galleria
Ellen Noel Art Museum
Japan America Society Houston
Houston Center for Contemporary Craft
Houston Grand Opera
C. G. Jung Center Houston
National Gallery of Art Museum Shop
Smithsonian Museum Shop
Dallas Museum of Art Museum Shop
Art Institute of Chicago Museum Shop
St. Lukes Hospital
Memorial Hermann Hospital
Texas State University, through Art + Artisans Consultants
Veterans Administration Austin, through Art + Artisans Consultants

1 Blog, 3 Novembers January 04 2013

2012 over!?! That was amazingly quick. I guess I do spend much of my time on the road and it is clear traveling or rather “not being home” speeds up time! To switch things up in my dual-life pattern, I spent the fall of 2012 in the East Coast of the US for a change. First DC, then Cleveland (noted in the previous blog. Early November started with a bang, with one the best Paper Connection Annual Holiday Warehouse sales ever! Then, more excitement by mid-November, as my staff and I organized a 4-day visit from a Paper Rock Star guest-Ms. Aimee Lee in Providence, RI. We had an awesome turn out for Ms. Lee’s hanji talk, demo and new book signing: Hanji Unfurled. After Ms. Lee’s successful visit to Rhode Island, I got to enjoy a “real” Thanksgiving with relatives, turkey and pies; it had been many years! Surely a day to recognize all that we have and all that we have in abundance. November, 2012 was certainly packed full with a cornucopia of accomplishments; I am very thankful, no matter what month it is.
Gloucester, RI Nov. 22.2012 Gloucester, RI Nov. 22.2012
Pies Nov. 22, 2012 Pies Nov. 22, 2012
By December, 2012, my suitcase was re-packed, and currently I am back on the other side of the globe. Since I’ll be on the road again shortly; heading to Seoul next week, I thought I would turn to TWO past abundant Novembers. Reflecting back as time springs forward. November, 2011: Journeyed north to Tokohu- the Northeast of Japan: For several reasons, this voyage to Tohoku was quite meaningful, especially post the March 11, 2011 disasters. The main goal was to check on my very good friend, who had moved back to the Tohoku area on March 1, 2011, I hadn’t seen her family since 1986. My friend warned me that all the coastal places we visited in 1986 “ARE GONE”, she wrote days after the tsunami hit. Another reason for going to Tohoku was to get a sense of the general post 3.11 feeling of the Tohoku survivors, where so many mingei-folk arts are/were born. The bonus of this trip was visiting with Mr. Koichi Odanaka at his studio. It was my privilege to meet Mr. Keisuke Serizawa’s last apprentice. I thoroughly enjoyed the back stories Mr. Odanaka told of his life with Mr. and Mrs. Serizawa in Tokyo. So it was a gratifying trip- educational and moving at the same time.Odanakas Work Odanaka’s work is truly irresistible. Although, it’s not something I stock at this point, I would like to support as many artists as possible in the Tohoku region of Japan. Let me know if you’re interested in any of his work; I’ll see what I can do! Here are a few of his stenciled items I purchased: calendar and textiles. November, 2010: Traveled, by plane, to Toyama-ken for the first time ever.
Fuji from the plane. Fuji from the plane.
Old Town of Yatsuo Old Town of Yatsuo
For centuries Toyama was known as the main pharmaceutical producing area of Japan. Back before plastic bottles with cotton stuffing, all medicines were wrapped with washi. The area was previously known as “Etchu” so the paper from the area is called "Etchu Washi".
washi bags& wrappers for medicines washi bags & wrappers for medicines
Of course, the need for washi dropped off with the invention of new packaging, but a young Mr. Yoshida, moved back to his hometown of Yatsuo, giving up a city life and a city job to start a washi-making mill in the small, well-preserved town of Yatsuo, not too far from Toyama City. Mr. Yoshida knew he had to make paper for new uses, so he decided to make kozo paper for artwork. Mr. Yoshida befriended the katazome master himself, Mr. Keisuke Serizawa, while he was working up at Ogawamachi in Saitama, making his own paper for his stencil work. Mr. Yoshida convinced Mr. Serizawa to try some Yatsuo paper (Etchu Washi) for his stencil work. From that point forward, Mr. Serizawa used the kozo paper made at Mr. Yoshida’s newly fashioned mill. FormingBlackKozosheetsIt was a start of what would become a long business relationship and friendship. Both the Yoshidas and the Serizawa’s had a deep connection with mingei and both had the passion to carry the tradition of washi and katazome into the future. Currently, the next generation of the Yoshida family run a paper shop, mill and incredible folk art museum, which houses the collection of the Yoshida parents. Thanks to the friendship between the Yoshida family and the Serizawa family, this Yatsuo operation called Keijyusha continues to produce decorated katazome papers, stationery items and collectible calendars employing Serizawa’s original stencils.Lookforthesign
kakishibu paper "rug" kakishibu paper "rug" in Museum.

There are still a few 2013 Serizawa desk calendars for sale at Paper Connection and many beautiful items in stock and for sale from this precious operation in Yatsuo. Please call us or email us for more information.SerizawaProducts

Serizawa Calendars and Serizawa stencil biz card holders. etc. Serizawa Calendars and Serizawa stencil biz card holders. etc.

Paper and More: PaperNado October 04 2011

One can always bookmark more webpages concerning paper, but now there's a new webshop where you can find classic and even vintage, Japanese papers, but even more importantly, there are fun, kitschy, gifty items right at your fingertips. I for one can never get enough! Check out the newly launched webshop: Here you'll have direct access to Paper Connection's hundreds of papers, papers from Aiko's (formerly in Chicago) and other goodies from Japan. Sweetxxooxx one-of-kind gifts...yes, I'm already thinking about those holidays after Halloween and Thanksgiving. If you like these popular Serizawa desk calendars, reserve your 2012 version soon at

The Place To Be December 11th... December 02 2010 Providence, anyway...

The AS220 Print Shop will be celebrating their new and expanded location, with a Holiday Sale, in the recently-restored Mercantile Building at 131 Washington Street, in downtown Providence: December 11th, 10AM-2PM. Paperwoman will be there too, so stop by to say "hello" or "konnichwa". I'll be carrying some fresh-baked paper items in my suitcase. here's a preview:

Ziguzagu Down Under November 19 2010

It seems the classical way of wrapping with square cloths, called furoshiki, has been a noteworthy, recent trend, and rightfully so. Wrapping with reusable and artfully printed fabrics is an environmentally-friendly custom, which has finally come to the west after centuries of use in Japan. The appreciation I have for all sorts of Japanese textiles led me to this site, Ziguzagu,(Japanese for "zigzag" ) a store in Melbourne. Check out their library; I was happy to see I own several of the books listed. And check out their assortment of other textiles, like these shibori scarves.

Anyone heading to Melbourne soon? That's next on my list... Coming soon to our sister store PaperNado- hand-printed furoshiki & tenugui; please inquire at Paper Connection. Great last minute holiday wrap and present in one!

Inside "Field" Trip September 03 2010

The Summer 2010 RISD Japanese Book Arts class (part of the Continuing Education program) recently visited us to show us their beautifully made boxes, using our paper; of course! We wholeheartedly support the paper and book arts here in Providence, and mutually the RISD book arts folks, like the teacher of this course, Ms. Suzi Cozzens, (Suzi's work) have, from the our humble beginning, supported us in our venture at Paper Connection. The students really appreciated visiting the local source for handmade washi. It's always great to see what beautiful things local paper artists create with our papers.

Check out more here.

Packing Light July 22 2010

I'm sweet on these "sweet and petite" journals handmade with katazome paper, by our friend, Bari Zaki. These journals are the perfect size to record my thoughts as I prepare for my next trip. Where is that you may wonder? Wait for it! a blog coming soon.