Saturday, March 07, 2020

Almond Blossom Paper

Since the day I completed Hanami perfume I had a vision for making Hanami paper as well. I collected Sakura (cherry blossoms) and pressed them, but didn't know till meeting master papermaker Izhar Neuman, that I didn't have the right materials, or the right idea of the process...

As much as I like to be hands-on and create everything possible that I dream of, I knew right then and there that I should leave this task for him. He has created for me paper from my recycled scent-strips (still a work in progress, as the original concept was to make this into a scented paper, and the scent didn't really come through). When I saw his exhibit of handcrafted paper, along with several other artists, I fell in love with the almond-blossom lampshade that his apprentice Neta has created. It was just about the end of almond blossom season. I managed to harvest a boxful of fresh flowers from my bitter almond tree, and drove up to Jatt where Izhar's workshop is. A few days later, the paper was ready. 

Strangely, and fortunately, the freshness and colours of the blossom gets preserved in the paper, in a manner that is not possible to produce with pressed dried flowers or any other technique I know of. Something about them being trapped within the two layers of fine paper fibres convinces them to keep blooming. it's a sort of paper enfleurage I supposed. 

Wooden mallet used for pounding and breaking down the paper mulberry fibres, from the inner bark of the tree. Izhar grows his own mulberry trees in Clil, harvests them and makes traditional Japanese paper from their gorgeous translucent fibres, in his atelier in Jatt, the neighbouring village. Earlier that winter, I took my Botanical Alchemy students to Izhar's workshop to experience first hand the process of peeling off the steamed mulberry branches. 

Traditional Japanese paper press for flattening and further refining handmade paper. 

The paper custom-made for me, against the natural light from the window. 

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