岩野市兵衛氏の和紙 (Paper by Iwano Ichibei)

Designer: Ichibei Iwano

Paper size: 20cm by 13cm | Enlargement | Shipping Code: [S] ? | Currency: $ / £ /

Price: $ 5.00£ 4.00€ 4.50

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Description: Question one ... is there anything more difficult than scanning a blank white sheet of paper? And question two ... is this for real? Are we actually offering a scrap of blank paper for sale?

Answer number one is 'No!' ... and answer number two is 'Yes!'

This is not 'just' a piece of paper; it is a trimmed section from one of the large sheets of 'Echizen Hosho' made for printmakers by Mr. Iwano Ichibei, of Fukui prefecture. There is a short introduction to Mr. Iwano on the 'people' page of this Mokuhankan website. He is the 9th generation of his family making this special deluxe paper, and as his son shows every intention of continuing with papermaking, it seems that the family tradition is in good hands, at least for another generation.

Entire books can - and have - been written about this paper, but there is simply room here to mention that it is the dense interlocking mat of very fine mulberry fibres (kozo) that makes it special for us printmakers. Click on the three closeup images below (especially the third one) to see what I mean. The red pigment of his family seal is sitting up on top of the paper in that image, but when we printmakers use our barens on it, the pigments are driven down deeply into that fibre mat, but without crushing it, thus leaving a wonderfully textured surface to the finished print.

Iwano-san provides us with these examples of his craft, considering them not 'samples', but actual 'works'. He made them, and he sealed them. This is his art. A few years ago, he was made a 'Living National Treasure', under circumstances that were somewhat unusual. His father before him had that designation, and as the culture authorities usually like to 'spread things around the country', it was far from a foregone conclusion that he would be honored that way. But his reputation is such that he could not be passed over.

Without paper like this, none of the other prints in this catalogue could have come into existence. We hope you enjoy this 'small' treasure as much as we do!

Note to printmakers: this paper is direct from Mr. Iwano, and has not been sized. In this natural state, it is too soft for printmaking.

You can read a bit more information about Iwano-san and his family, in an older issue of Dave's newsletter, here.

Here are some closeups of the paper; (click for enlargements ...)

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