Saturday, October 8, 2016

Fibers For Papermaking: KOZO, MITSUMATA, AND GAMPI

Kozo bundles in the background ordered from Carriage House Papers

I came across this great site called True Art for the Creative Process in the context of Dharma Art put together by  Steven Saitzyk. I found this section on oriental fibers useful in papermaking particularly useful.

These are the most common fibers used in making Oriental papers. Only the inner bark, or bast fiber, of Broussonetia kazinoki for kozo, Edgeworthia ehrysantha for mitsumata, and Diplomorpha shikokiana for gampi, is used to make paper. When these fibers are used without wood pulp or other fillers, they are as permanent as cotton and, in the case of gampi, even more permanent.
Kozo, known in North America as mulberry, makes the strongest and most durable of the Oriental papers. It has the longest fibers, will not shrink or expand when wet, and produces a paper with an uneven surface. This fiber is used alone to make paper and is added to other fibers to give them additional strength and durability.
Mitsumata is traditionally described by the Japanese in what they feel are female terms. They say it is the most beautiful, softest, most absorbent, and the weakest of the three fibers. It is often used to balance kozo fibers, which are described in male terms, to increase the absorbency, even the surface, and add beauty to a paper. 
Gampi is described by the Japanese as having both male and female characteristics. Its fibers are long, thin, somewhat shiny, and very tough. The fibers are so durable that paper made of gampi is referred to as “paper cloth.” Gampi paper is smooth, lustrous, and has its own natural chemical resistance to papereating insects. It is nonabsorbent, damp-resistant, and may well be the most permanent paper in the world. The best paper is made from uncultivated plants, but the plant is rare because it was overused to the point of near extinction. Most available gampi papers are made from a species of the plant found in the Philippine Islands and processed in Taiwan.
Many Oriental papers available in the West are made from one of these three fibers. They are called Japanese papers, or Japanese-style papers, even if they are made in another country. 
Tan-hi is the Chinese version of kozo fiber and is the primary ingredient in such traditional Chinese papers as gasen. Today, tan-hi is more commonly referred to as tampi.

Cooked Kozo in various levels of preparation from hand beating

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