I have been really excited by two wonderful books I purchased recently about the preparation and various uses of paper within textiles.
The first, by Susan J Byrd, called ‘A Song of Praise for Shifu’ has just won a series of awards too which is great. It is so informative, a well documented historical study of paper making for weaving shifu in Japan, and also very readable.
Shifu has had a place in my life for about 30 years. I first came across it through Eleanor Birkett who had been to Japan to study it and then she taught groups in the UK, and I did two courses with her. I used my own paper thread with some filament silk in some takadai braids that went to a kumihimo exhibition in Japan in 1992. How well I remember the careful cutting and endless rolling on a piece of concrete. I used to spin a great deal so that side was not a problem. At that time we were able to purchase kozo paper from Eleanor.
The second book, ‘Paper Textiles’ by Christina Leitner, has been out for while, is now out of print but there are copies around to buy. Again, written after some very thorough research, it has a rich collection of very interesting contemporary artists’ work using a great variety of techniques. A good read and very stimulating visually too.
My own braiding work combining various papers with soluble yarns, strong silks, clear lurex and lycra continues to grow, and soon some serious choices will have to be made as I need to decide which pieces to take to the exhibition ‘Paper Rhythms’ in Tokyo this October. Oh! for a few more private hours each day or even each week that are just mine!