How is Katazome-Shi Made?

Katazome-shi means, literally, stencil-dyed papers (also referred to as Wazome). Based on traditional kimono-printing techniques, these beautifully patterned papers were developed in the twentieth century. Producing these special papers is extremely time-consuming and a true art.


Katagami, the Japanese art of making paper stencils, is utilized to cut the pattern from persimmon-dyed kozo. The paper is hand cut with a combination of knives and punches and the resulting patterns are often extremely intricate and consequently quite fragile. To stabilize the stencils and prevent them from tearing, a fine silk mesh is attached to the back. The stencil is placed over a sheet of washi and a paste resist is brushed through the stencil to define the pattern. Wherever the paste sticks to the paper, it will resist, or prevent, any colour that is subsequently applied. Multiple alignments of the stencil are made with different colours of pigment applied at each stage. The pigments are allowed to dry thoroughly and the paste is washed off, allowing the incredible beauty and craftsmanship to be revealed.


This labour-intensive process results in a paper that has timeless appeal, long-lasting vibrant colour and the unmistakable look of a print truly made by hand. The strength and beauty of these papers makes them perfect for book covers and boxes, cards, decorative elements on paper and wood or lampshades.

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