Full-panel Chiyogami Silk Screen Print, Ukiyo-e
The tradition of dyeing silk fabrics for kimonos featuring beautiful intricate patterns is centuries old. Katazome and Chiyogami papers are the on-paper continuation of such techniques, which came about surprisingly recently from the 1940s and 1970s respectively.
The production of such papers today remains with a handful of studios primarily situated in the Kyoto region. Originally these were made from hand cut paper screens stained with persimmon (also known as kaki) juice, more modern silkscreens are used nowadays.
Choosing Keeping was lucky enough to get a first hand experience of the complex process to manufacture such papers on a recent factory tour - entirely by hand.
In full single-image panel up to twenty colours are applied, one at a time, with drying time for each layer. Obviously all of these layers need to line up perfectly - two years of training is required to master this skill. Each pattern will take 2 to 3 days to produce.
In Chiyogami, the pattern will cover the entire surface area and often patterns are enhanced or as we are told “made gorgeous” with gold powder highlights applied at the last stage.
Traditionally in Japan chiyogami and katazome papers were used to make small souvenirs and trinkets such as dolls, small boxes, tea caddies etc. These can also be used in a more subtle and contemporary fashion either framed whole to be used decoratively or for bookbinding where more simple and geometric patterns can look truly stunning and not necessarily traditionally Japanese.
While many retailers sell these papers in half sheets; for your best appreciation we prefer and only sell full sized sheets which measure 61 x 91 cm.
Printed on handmade Kozo paper (Mulberry paper)
Images copyright Choosing Keeping