54 Things You Can Make with Handmade Papers

The Paint Spot carries many handmade papers. Japanese Paper Place and St Armand are our favourites.

David Carruthers and Denise La Point from St Armand showing their handmade papers. Made here in Canada.

Paper Mulberry (Saa)

Modern artists, craftspeople, and hobbyists have vastly expanded the range of applications for mulberry paper, called Saa in Thailand and chiyogami in Japan. The most common uses are probably as cover papers for bookbinders, and as accent or envelope linings for invitations, but many other uses for handmade papers are possible and common.

Mulberry is a tree native to Northern Thailand. It is a persistent perennial and regenerates itself after each harvest. Making handmade paper from it is labour-intensive but worth it. Mulberry’s long fibers are ideal for creating strong durable papers. Talented papermakers ensure artists have an unlimited range of colours, textures, and patterns.

The handmade paper process

Artisans soak the bark and boil it with wood ash, before pounding it to a pulp. The pulp is put in a vat with plenty of water, dye, and inclusions like petals, leaves, grass, thread, and even other recycled papers. Skillful craftsmen submerge a screen into this solution and agitate it to create a perfectly even coating of the pulp mixture across the screen surface. The thickness or density of the pulp decides the thickness of the paper. A master paper maker will make exactly the same thickness every time, just by the feel.

A maker can add extra inclusions after the screen is then lifted out of the water and drained. Sometimes additional coloured pulp is poured onto the screen in patterns. Once the screen is fully drained it is flipped over and tapped to release the pulp. The pulp is flattened and blotted to remove excess water and then left to dry. The resulting paper is strong and beautiful.

What do artists do with handmade papers? Here are 54 ideas:

  1.  Acrylics – prime with clear gesso or matte medium
  2. Birth announcements
  3. Block print
  4. Book sleeves
  5. Bookbinding
  7. Box making
  8. Business cards
  9. Calligraphy
  10. Card making
  11. Chigirie (ちぎり絵), a Japanese art form in which the coloured paper is torn to create images resembling watercolour paintings
  12. Collage, is a technique where the artwork is made from an assemblage of different forms and materials
  13. Decoupage, is the art of decorating an object by gluing colored paper cutouts onto it in combination with special paint effects, e.g., on trays, boxes frames, light switch plates, pots, shelves, tables, gourds and other objects
  14. Dioramas, three-dimensional miniatures or life-size scenes
  15. Dollhouse miniatures
  16. Drawer liners
  17. Encaustics
  18. Envelopes
  19. Flower pressing
  20. Folders
  21. Framing mats
  22. Gift tags
  23. Gift wrap
  24. Gold leafing or leafing with other metals
  25. Iris folding, a paper craft technique that involves folding strips of colored paper to form a design of which the center is iris-shaped
  26. Jewelry making
  27. Kirigami, the art of folding a sheet of paper and then cutting a pattern to reveal a silhouette
  28. Kite making
  29. Lampshades
  30. Mask making
  31. Mixed media
  32. Mobiles
  33. Note cards
  34. Oil pastel – Picasso drew on everything; so can you.
  35. Origami (折り紙, (from ori meaning “folding” and kami meaning “paper”), the traditional Japanese art of paper folding
  36. Packaging for festive parcels
  37. Papier maché
  38. Photo albums
  39. Placemats and table runners
  40. Resin castings
  41. Scanning for computer backgrounds
  42. Scrapbooking
  43. Screen dividers
  44. Screen print
  45. Sculpture
  46. Sew it just like fabric
  47. Soft pastel
  48. Stamping
  49. Tree decorations
  50. Wall decoration, frame and hang as art
  51. Wall paper
  52. Weaving
  53. Wedding announcements
  54. Window screens
Highlights from the Art Talk with Japanese Paper Place. The art samples were beautiful.

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