Echizen Paper

Echizen Paper

The Sunday Paper #289
December 8, 2019

Paper of the Week: Echizen Paper

As you read this, I’ve just returned home from a two-week trip to Japan. I waited 30 years for this adventure, and it was definitely worth the wait! I was living in NYC back then, working odd jobs and trying to find something I was passionate about. My father was in Japan for the summer, and my mother took me with her on a short vacation to see him and tour around a bit. I already had an interest in paper, but that trip was a turning point: we stayed in a traditional inn in Kyoto (a ryokan) and being surrounded by light filtering through shoji screens sparked a new interest in paper and light. Above you see lace paper at one of the mills I visited last weekend in Echizen, a paper town where 56 mills (both commercial and handmade) are still in existence (down from 400, as they say). Sadly, they weren’t making this type of paper the day I visited, but it was an amazing experience nonetheless.


Out of the Studio:

As a paper folder for more than 50 years, Robert Lang‘s work combines aspects of the Western school of mathematical origami design with the Eastern emphasis upon line and form to yield work that is distinctive, elegant, and challenging to fold. He uses mathematics to advance origami folding techniques for applications in technology – like folding a giant telescope into a compact form so that it can travel to space. Enjoy our conversation!


Papery Tidbits:


I love this concept! To counter waste this holiday season, Teton Valley Community Recycling in Driggs, Idaho is hosting a free, self-serve gift wrapping station. Have stuff to recycle? You can drop off extra gift boxes, wrapping paper, or holiday cards. Got gifts to wrap or ship? They invite you to come in and reuse the materials dropped off by others to cut down on your holiday waste and expense.

Do you follow All Things Paper? If not, now’s a good time to start! Ann Martin is a fellow paper lover and blogger extraordinaire, and she is hosting a GIVEAWAY this week for two copies of The Paper Year. I love how she describes it: “The Paper Year is not only a how-to book, but also a calendar and planner… a crafting trifecta!” And if you were planning on ordering a copy with the custom paper pack, don’t wait too long – I just might run out of the paper packs.

I started my career in paper at Dieu Donné Papermill in NYC. They’re still going strong 40+ years after being founded in 1976. If you’re in NYC, check out this exhibition: Present Bodies: Papermaking at Dieu Donné (through February 2nd, 2020) organized by BRIC curator Jenny Gerow. The exhibition showcases the work of eight Brooklyn-based artists who have participated in Dieu Donné’s Workspace Residency Program, which has pushed the medium of contemporary handmade paper in new directions.

Work by Lina Puerta

The many facets of John Ruskin’s work are on view now in the Yale Center for British Art’s exhibition: Unto This Last: Two Hundred Years of John Ruskin. My favorite quote from this article speaks of his drawing: “Ruskin rarely aimed to create finished, complete artworks; for him, drawing was a way to discipline the eye, to truly see the complex and subtle harmonies of natural shapes and forms. It was also a way to record that which might otherwise might be lost…”

John Ruskin, “Study of a Magnified Pheasant’s Feather” (1879), watercolor on paper, Fogg Museum, Harvard Art Museums

Tokyo-based French architect Emmanuelle Moureaux recently hung 140,000 pieces of paper from the ceiling to create rainbow passageways in celebration of a Japanese soft drink company’s centennial.


Do you have a One Sheet Wonder? I need you (again)! I am curating a gallery section in my new book to show off the potential of paper (featuring artwork, graphic design, fashion design and other wonders created from one sheet of handmade or machine-made paper). Fill out this form if you have something to share, and feel free to pass it along to other paper artists (deadline: 1/15/20). Although I can’t promise that your image will make the cut (there are so many factors involved), I plan to start showing off your One-Sheet-Wonders on the blog, leading up to the book’s publication.

Featured this week in my Studio shop:
The Papermaker’s Package, a Needle Holder Book, one of 12 projects in the 2020 Paper Year, The Paper Year, and The Paper Lover’s Package.
The Paper Year


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  1. Lou says:

    Well dang, Helen! The All Things Paper giveaway deadline was yesterday😬
    I’ve enjoyed flowing your adventures while in Japan. Looks like a dream trip!
    Have a great holiday,