Transform washi with this Konnyaku starch made from Devil’s Tongue root. Stiff and sturdy or soft and supple, the possibilities are many with this amazing paper treatment. Konnyaku gives the paper textural memory, strength and water-resistance. Some popular uses are to create textured momigami or as a pretreatment for dyeing or embroidery.
Best known in Japan as a food, Konnyaku – or Devil’s Tongue Root starch – has also been used for centuries to make kamiko (paper clothing). Applied to washi paper and worked in by hand, this starch allows you to add wonderful texture, strength, and durability. Paper treated with Konnyaku is called momigami (kneaded paper) or kyoseishi (strong paper).
Washi treated with Konnyaku is made both stronger and more flexible than untreated paper. Because the paper’s pores are coated it also becomes more wind and water‐resistant with improved heat retention while remaining breathable. As a lining for clothing, paper treated with Konnyaku often outlasted the textile that it lines. The treated papers are suitable for stitching and dyeing. So it will also be great to use for book covers and other projects where tough paper is needed.
A Recipe for How to Use Konnyaku Starch
- Konnyaku starch
- A brush to apply paste – a soft hair, synthetic brush or goat hair hake brush is best.
- A stirring spoon or chopstick.
- Glass measuring cup and measuring spoons.
- Plastic tablecloth to protect the table and provide a non-absorbent surface to work on.
The preparation of Konnyaku is easy as well as quite forgiving. We have found various recipes for starch to water ratios and so it should be noted that it is unlikely that one can go completely wrong in its preparation. It is best to make this in small batches. The paste may be stored in the fridge for about a week only. After a week, it may start to have a strong unpleasant smell.
Thick Recipe – 1 tsp powder to 1 cup of water for a thicker solution for making kyoseishi or momigami.
Thin Recipe – 2 Tbsp powder to 1 quart of water will make a thin solution. This is good for lightweight washi or if you are using the starched paper for immersion dyeing.
- Dissolve the Konnyaku powder in room temperature water. Heating is not required.
- Stir constantly while adding the powder a little at a time. Continue stirring the mixture for about 20 mins to prevent lumps from forming.
- It will be ready to use in a few hours, once the particles are completely dissolved.
- The Konnyaku paste is ready to use when it is thick and smooth.
- This solution may be diluted to suit thinner washi or Japanese tissue.
The application is a satisfying process and proves the incredible strength of washi paper.
- Work on top of a plastic table covering in order to protect your surfaces.
- Use a wide brush to apply the Konnyaku paste to both sides of the paper.
- Fold the corners of the sheet into the centre and crumple the sheet into a loose ball.
- Place this aside on the plastic to give the paper time to absorb the starch.
- Continue to process more sheets in the same manner.
- Then, take the sheets one at a time and pack each into a ball, turning, squeezing and crumpling it carefully.
- Knead the wet, soggy paper until its texture resembles fabric rather than paper.
- Open it up and rub it against itself, paper to paper, all over to flatten the paper back to its original shape.
- Lay it flat to dry, stretching it out gently.
Paper will have a soft, wrinkled texture once it is dry.
Now, go make something! 😊