Archives for posts with tag: Kyoto

I had an interesting time reading the answers to this month’s AOM, as Mr. Francis Schanberger marries paper, beautiful, handmade, warm, organic paper, with photography. Photography: some may loosely think of it as an offshoot in the world of fine arts, with its glory days of dramtic black and white footage, whether a dashing Avedon model, or an Arbus character staring back at you inviting your comments, your questions, your curiosity.  And now we have our phones, of course. Camera lenses, on our phones or the latest SLR do not seem to be remotely related to the paper world, nor can you use your camera as a tool to imprint your image directly on paper, (or can you)?  Nevertheless, the two worlds seem to be on opposite sides of the arts timetable: digital, fast, the science of light and time, with paper, handmade, hands-on techniques, whether using a brush or a press.  So, onward to Francis, who gives us a lesson in chemistry + photography + paper, and the methods are intriguing, as one artist’s vision grows with each sheet of the ever trustworthy washi, or Japanese paper.

PCI: So, tell us a little bit about your work, Francis, and your inspiration.

FS: Describing the kind of work that I do used to be such an easy question. I am trained as a photographer but have pushed back against established ways of showing work. In the photographic world, images were for many years presented in white mats and black frames. Presenting work is more fluid now, but that initial rebellion continues in my avoidance of the inkjet print or the “publish on demand” photo book. Printmakers, painters, and installation artists have influenced me. It is stand alone photographs sometimes complimented with photographic installation. Lately I have been creating ephemeral photograms (camera-less images) using clothing and plant pigments.

Alternative photo process,

Pirate Chic, by Francis Schanberger

PCI: That process is fascinating. Watch the VIDEO HERE.  What do you like about working with paper?

FS: Paper continually reminds me that I am making something.  Specifically, the handmade papers create a tension between photographic image and photographic object.  By tension I mean to suggest an awareness of the power of photography to exist as a simulation of reality and as a real, stand alone, tactile thing.  Paper has mass, volume, memory, texture and sound qualities.  Related to vision, it can pass light through itself and block it.

PCI: Papers definitely have their own sounds, as well as smells, in a good way, of course.     How did you hear about our company?

FS: One of my favorite papers, a heavy weight Kozo Unryu, was encountered by chance in preparing for two different assignments in an alternative photography class I was teaching. I had found a paper to use in a demonstration of creating handmade artist’s books. I had extra paper left over and decided to try out chemistry for the students’ next project Vandyke Brown prints. This is a historical photographic process that uses iron and sliver in tandem to print out an image before it is even developed.  The combination of paper and chemistry did something I never expected.  Instead of immediately soaking in, as I have experienced with unsized papers, it gave me time to brush it on, eventually being absorbed by the outer most layers of the paper.   After processing, I noticed that it yielded a very dense brown color somewhat hard to achieve in the Vandyke Brown (kallitype) process.

When I first moved to Dayton, Ohio there was a wonderful art supply store on the west side of town called McCallister’s. They went out of business in 2009, shortly after I began working with the Kozo Unryu papers they had stocked. One of these was the paper I had used for the book assignment. I searched online for paper suppliers who might carry the identical paper.  After replying to my email queries and after mailing a sample to Rhode Island, Paper Connection International identified the paper I was using and was able to ship it to the Midwest.

Winged Seeds, by Francis Schanberge

Winged Seeds, by Francis Schanberger

PCI: Did you have much knowledge about Japanese papers before using our papers? How did Paper Connection help you navigate through the wonderful world of washi?

FS: Paper Connection provided my first real education on Japanese papers. I had no idea the paper I had been using was considered a heavy weight and the ability to work with larger quantities of this paper helped me to learn how the Kozo responded to humidity, pH during processing, and how much chemistry I could apply to the paper surface.  The paper has a very pronounced texture because of the Unryu (long fibers embedded in the paper).  I began to select subject matter that would benefit and not compete with the surface.

platinum print, alternative photo process, mino washi

Two Gingkos, by Francis Schanberger

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? Describe some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with?

FS: Currently I use Japanese papers for historical photographic printing done in Vandyke Brown and Platinum / Palladium.  I have used three different papers from Paper Connection. The Kozo Unryu HW in both a brushed and unbrushed surface and a Kozo paper with no Unryu texture and hardly any sizing.  I do prefer the sized paper because they allow me to brush on the emulsion over a hard table surface. However, last May I was asked to try out a brand new paper made in Ino, Japan that was a combination of Kozo and Gampi with no internal sizing. The paper is extremely thin weighing in at 30 g/sm. I had to learn to apply the light sensitive emulsion with the paper placed over a piece of felted wool.  I am warming up to the new paper but the photochemistry it was designed for is pricey which limits my ability to print with it.

PCI: What paper of ours would you recommend for the various methods you employ in your work?

FS: I like the Kozo Unryu Heavy Weight paper for Vandyke Brown printing because it works really well with my style of brushing on light-sensitive emulsion and it has a terrific wet strength.

PCI: And, of course, which artist would you like to have a nice sit down and chat with? And does paper fit in somehow?

FS: If I could have a conversation with any artist present or past it would be pictorialist photographer Jane Reece. I would talk about paper because she was known in her time as an expert in printing photographs on Japanese tissue.  Because of my involvement with the use of the paper from Ino (Kochi) Japan, I have become aware of the paper makers’ interest in early twentieth century photographers and their use of Japanese tissue. The paper makers of Ino are interested in whether the paper they have made bears any resemblance to the Japanese tissue of the early 1900’s. The only examples exist in museums in the United States.

PCI: Thank you so much, Francis. This has been enlightening, and your work exudes the warmth and texture paper provides, with the imagery that light creates with your vision.  Chemistry + photography + paper = beautiful.

Francis will be featured in an alternate venue during the upcoming Kyotographie in Kyoto this Spring:

COHJU gallery: Platinum Print / Alternative Process meets Tosahakkinshi April 26th– May 10th, 2014

This exhibition is a follow-up to an exhibition of three Japanese and two American photographers at the Ino-cho Paper Museum last September.  Francis along with these other artists all used the new paper and printed images in the Platinum Palladium process:

http://francisschanberger.com/section/373290_Tosa_Washi_Meets_Platinum_Palladium.html

To learn more about Francis, please visit his website and the following links:

francisschanberger.com

From Walking

Forces of Nature

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Nancy is a recent customer of Paper Connection, and has graciously sent us photographs of her transforming Momi Kozo, or crinkled mulberry, to beautifully arranged flowers.  We thought we’d grab on to this hot off the press inspiration and ask her to be our Artist of the Month for June. Here is a different spin of the usual questionnaire, as Nancy contributed sans Q & A her insightful training, methods, and background.  Introducing Nancy, from South Carolina, in her own words:

“Watercolor paintings of flowers or still lifes is my usual involvement with fine paper, but when Japanese paper enters the conversation, there is an entirely different group of interests that emerge.  There is Japanese calligraphy, both kanji and hiragana.  Paper dolls, washi ningyo,  are another passion.   Fairly recently, paper flowers and foliage have become an interest.

As a very young girl, my favorite place to play was with a girl whose father worked for a printer.  She had a shelf full of all colors and textures of paper he had brought her.   It was very exciting!   At about the same time, paper dolls appeared, and caught and held my interest.   I still collect them, and made one for a little girl who was undergoing chemotherapy, and had lost her hair.   It was a wig paper doll, with fanciful and silly wigs to cheer up the child with their outlandish colors and designs.

Japanese paper was an exciting aspect of our stay in Japan.   While my husband worked, I attended classes, starting with “hari-e” or torn paper pictures.   There, I learned about different Japanese papers and their properties.   It was also my first experience with a “sensei” or teacher/master.   I decided to do a little improvisation with one of the designs, and before the glue had dried, the sensei stripped the paper off the board, and repositioned it in its proper place.   So much for creative ideas!  It had been a longtime ambition to learn calligraphy.  Every Saturday I  went to class, watched while the sensei remarked everyone’s calligraphy with brilliant orange ink, and went home with my assignment for the next week, using reams of calligraphy practice paper, trying to properly form shapes new to me.   Later, when some amount of proficiency had been attained, beautiful paper appeared, and shikishi (paper boards for artwork) arrived in boxes.   Always, the paper was perfectly suited to each purpose.

I have forgotten now how I became interested in Japanese paper dolls.  That is where I learned how paper could be manipulated, with such striking results.  Each doll was different, patterned after mostly historical types, and they began to accumulate with their colorful kimonos and fanciful hairdos.

In the 1980’s there were several paper stores in Hiroshima, a cool manufacturer in Kyoto, and a manufacturer in Tokyo.   I began to collect all the paper I could, knowing I could not possibly use all of it, but finding each new type or design more exciting than the one before.  Now the stores in Hiroshima are gone, but Paper Connection is stocked with fabulous papers from all over Asia, and the knowledgeable staff is most helpful.   I look forward to learning more about Japanese paper, and, most of all, adding to my collection.

The only paper I have ordered from Paper Connection so far is Momi Kozo.  It has long been a favorite paper because of the large, luminous color range, and great texture.   It has been invaluable for washi ningyo, and now, making paper flowers, it is very versatile and is light enough that two pieces can be glued together.   It is also very strong, and can absorb the rigors of twisting and bending, necessary in both washi ningyo and floral art.   Paper Connection has a large selection of Momi Kozo and I purchased one of every color.   I look forward to exploring more of paper Connection’s broad stock of exotic papers.

The artist I would dearly love to talk to is Isabelle de Borchgrave, a Belgian woman who specializes in creating life size historic costumes from many kinds of paper, including lens paper.   Her recent book, “Pulp Fashion” is a stunning display of her vision, talent, and appreciation for fine paper, and the extremes to which it can be pushed with some ingenuity.”

Nancy at work

Nancy at work

photo

Various papers lend to various textures.

Various papers lend to various textures.

Nancy, thank you so much for telling us about your background, your inspiration, and Isabelle de Borchgrave.  Your kindness to others is worthy of example, and we look forward to seeing more of your pieces.

Feast your eyes on more of Nancy’s work: