Paper Theater

Paper Theater

The Sunday Paper #360

April 25, 2021

Do black walnuts grow in your area? I’ve been intrigued by their dyeing potential since I first saw Cave Paper’s O’Malley Crackle many moons ago. I finally got my hands on some black walnuts at the North American Hand Papermaker’s silent auction last fall. Look at that rich brown achieved after boiling – ooh, la la! – and scroll down to see what I did with the liquid.


Check out these amazing sculptural cyanotypes by Wu Chi-Tsung, whose landscapes are are made by the laborious layering of strips of Cyanotype. He uses xuan paper – traditionally used for Chinese ink paintings – which he scrunches up before applying the chemicals so the sun will leave uneven patterns when the paper is exposed.

An artwork from Wu Ci-Tsung’s “Exposé” exhibition, titled Cyano Collage 094. Photo: Galerie du Monde / Wu Chi-Tsung

An artwork from Wu Ci-Tsung’s “Exposé” exhibition, titled Cyano Collage 094. Photo: Galerie du Monde / Wu Chi-Tsung

I love this: Kamishibai, or “paper theater,” is a form of storytelling that originated in Japan in the late 1920s. Storytellers would ride into villages on bikes, bang wooden sticks together, and gather an audience around the kamishibai box, a small stage containing a sequence of cards that illustrate traditional folktales. The form has become popular in libraries for its flexibility and accessibility.

A wooden kamishibai box, which contains illustrated cards ((Photo: Geo1208)

Oh no! and LOL! This artwork (paper furniture) by Sara Farrington of Creedmoor, North Carolina, is made of heavyweight drawing paper and cardboard. It looks so real that someone sat in it. Workers are putting the pieces back together. You can see this and much more at ArtFields in Lake City, South Carolina.

Paper furniture


Paper Tidbits:

  • The Lucca Biennale in Italy features monumental sculptures create from cardboard during an artist residency in July that will later be exhibited in plazas around the town. Click here to apply for 2022.
  • Want to own a chain of paper stores? Here’s what is happening with Paper Source.


In the Studio:

Here’s a selection of my black walnut stained papers – from left to right: watermarked cotton, cotton, jute/abaca, abaca, ogawara kozo. I need to perfect my technique (or not) but got lots of interesting feedback about how to apply the stain and dry the sheets without clip marks over on instagram. I am more fascinated with the forms you can create with paper than the surface treatments you can apply on paper. And although I do make flat sheets of handmade paper, the elements I’m exploring are translucency (using translucent fibers, watermarks) and structure (embedding strings and wires). Maybe it is time to start exploring the surface!


Featured this week in my Studio shop: Check out the welcome video on the home page of my website, The Papermaker’s Companion, Digital download: Package of Three Films, and Playing With Paper.


If you read this blog regularly, would you consider making a donation to support the research, writing, design and delivery of The Sunday Paper? Click on the paper button at the left to learn how.

Or, perhaps you’re interested in promoting your business in The Sunday Paper.

Thanks to everyone who has already pledged your support!


SHARE THIS blog post with your paper-loving friends!

I occasionally have affiliate links in my blog posts – links to products in which I will receive a small commission if you make a purchase. Thanks for your support!


  1. Nancy House says:

    There is a huge walnut tree in my yard. As a result I have many walnuts. I finally decided to use them to make ink that I then draw with. The ink ranges from a very dark brown to a lighter shade. It is water soluble , so care has to be taken with the drawings.

  2. Helen Hiebert says:

    Wow, how great to have your own supply!

  3. Your walnut dyed papers are totally YUMMY! OMG. Are you selling any of those sheets? Great Sunday paper today. Jam packed as always.

    • Helen Hiebert says:

      Sally, I’m traveling this week. Will take stock of what I’ve got when I return. I’ll be in touch. Thanks for your interest!

  4. June Tyler says:

    I love your walnut dyed papers, Helen! We have a black walnut tree in the yard. The trick is to get to the walnuts before the animals do! The large cyanotypes are gorgeous! Love the Sunday Paper!

  5. Louise Levergneux says:

    Helen, thanks for the info on Wu Chi-Tsung’s cyanotypes. What a great art piece. I also enjoyed your new welcome video on your website.

  6. Virginia Haller says:

    Helen, I live in Central Ohio on 5+ acres of mostly forested land. Many of the trees are black walnut. I have been making walnut ink for years?

  7. Judy says:

    Great information. Thanks!