Thursday, April 2, 2015

Momigami


April 2, 2015
Joanne Weis
In my reading on Wabi Sabi, I discovered information on a revival of an ancient Japanese technique: Momigami - kneaded,. flexible, strong and wrinkled paper.
The ancient process of momigami was to gather paper made from the mulberry tree, manipulate it to create a leather like paper and, with the paper,  make clothing. Traditionally the paper was treated with "Konnyaku", the root of the "devil’s tongue" plant, which makes the paper pliable and able to withstand the process of preparing the paper then making substantial clothing. The process and products I use are an adaptation of what I have read and I hope will inspire you to play and discover uses for the paper.
Any strong paper is suitable.  I have used a variety of papers including tissue, baking parchment, typing paper, water color and true Japanese Mulberry paper. For the blog, I photographed doing this process using a piece of mulberry paper, roughly 9" X 11".




While a variety of products are used in the various directions given on line, in books or articles, I use a product available at your local hardware/home improvement store, Howard Feed-N-Wax wood conditioner.  This is a great combination of beeswax and lemon oil, very effective, environmentally safe, affordable and with a wonderful fragrance.





I put a glob of the wax/oil onto the paper.





Spread it across the paper:





In many of the directions, you are advised to then fold the four corners of the paper toward the center.  You can do this if you choose but it seems that this is to prevent the corners from tearing.  I have found that what you need to do is gradually gather the entire piece of paper into a wad:





Then roll it tightly into a ball. 





Now just roll it around in your palm for a few minutes then unroll it, spread it out on the table and smooth it out.





Repeat this at least four times, adding more oil to the paper or your hands if needed.
Now comes the part that is truly more modern than the 17th century process.  When finished with all this wadding up and rolling into a tight ball, I place the oiled paper between sheets of newsprint or newspaper and simply iron it. I will iron it until almost no oil is showing up on the paper.  Below you see a sample of the newsprint with oil absorbed into it.  I generally need to press the oiled paper between newsprint replacing it about four times with clean newsprint.






Now you have some wonderfully soft, "wrinkled" and pliable paper. Tomorrow I will share some ways that I have used it.  

7 comments:

  1. Try it with brown paper bags from the grocery store and use olive or canola oil. You get a nice effect this way too especially if you find some interesting 'brown' paper bags with patterns already printed on them.

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  2. It looks like a very therapeutic process and I like the suggestion made to use paper bags.

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  3. I imagine you condition your hands with this process, too. This is something I think I would like to do...especially if you get paper strong enough to make garments from!
    Can't wait for the rest.
    Sandy in the UK

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  4. I'm new to this blog, but I am absolutely fascinated by what you and the blog are up to! Can't wait to discover more...

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  5. I will be trying this technique for both my paper and fabric printing. Thanks, especially for the name and description of the oil you use for the process. If I can't find that brand I will at least know what ingredients to look for.

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  6. I had never seen or heard of this technique before but I was interested to try. I had never seen or heard of the Howard Feed N Wax before so I figured I would have to find something similar. However, I was on a short vacation this week to another state and went to an antique mall there. What to they have for sale? Howard Feed N Wax! I'll be trying some experiments soon.

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