During the spring break I planned out a little project to keep myself busy and also so I could spend my days in the warmth of the classroom and not the chilly box that has been my loungeroom.

I decided to have a go at dyeing paper. I had seen and admired work by Serizawa Keisuke (one of my Katazome heroes), where he dyed calendars on washi (japanese paper) so I knew it could be done.

I chose to make an all-over design, based on silhouetted gumnuts and eucalyptus blossoms. Because the stencil is quite detailed, I chose to attach a fine mesh called ‘sha-bari’ to help keep the stencil strong. The mesh is applied with a nasty smelling black lacquer, hence the black colour of this stencil.

This is the stencil I designed and cut to print resist paste onto my washi. It it made to be repeated lengthways.

This is the washi I bought to dye. Its a particular sort suited for dyeing.

At first, the thought of dyeing paper is a bit daunting because it seems so fragile but actually I found it easier than the same process onto fabric! It is recommended you apply a solution of a kind of binder to the washi before hand to increase its strength and to stop it getting all fibrous. After that dries you just go ahead as normal and apply the print paste. Then dye as normal, see below in progress

this piece of washi is about 35cm x 35cm. Here the resist paste has been applied and I have finished dyeing.
Ta-da! after a layer of clear fixative is applied and let dry, you just wash it out in warm water.
a close up of the finished piece of washi
this was a bigger piece, about 35cm x 50cm that I dyed in a different colourway.
It was a sastisfying experiment dyeing paper and was surprised to find it quite simple. I’ll be interested to make more prints onto washi, perhaps inspired by Japanese scrolls. As always, many possibilities, its just taking initiative and actually doing it!!