Have you noticed Japanese papers in the shop? Maybe you've thought they're beautiful, but felt a bit intimidated, uncertain about how to use them. Or maybe you're already as smitten as us and want to know some new things you can do with them. If this is the case, this week's topic is for you.

When you picture Japanese paper, what images come to mind? Chances are, you think of colourful patterned sheets of cherry blossoms, leaves, or other symbols and motifs. Such paper is washi that has undergone the process of chiyogami. This means a repetitive process of transferring a pattern onto paper by hand using wood blocks (used primarily before the 12th century) or silk screening.


The pattern on a chiyogami sheet is applied one colour at a time. It's a fiddly process! Each screen needs to be perfectly aligned so the colour transfers onto the correct places of the pattern. The traditional inks create a vibrant effect which stands up well to fading. Many chiyogami patterns have metallic accents added at the end, which enhances the beauty of the design.


Now, what can you use chiyogami sheets for? Truly, your imagination is your guide. Most commonly, it's used to cover books (including notebooks and albums), as envelope linings, to decorate tea tins and small paper boxes, for origami, gift wrap, collage, paper dolls, scrapbooking, iris folding and chigiri-e. What's that? What's iris folding and chigiri-e?


Iris folding is the method of folding strips of paper (usually coloured) to create an effect that looks like an iris - the diaphragm of a camera lens. These designs can be used to make greeting cards, album covers, or beautiful framed wall art.

Chigiri-e is a type of paper collage made with washi. 'Chigiri' means to tear or shred in Japanese, and 'e' means picture. You use a template to tear off a piece of paper in the shape you want and then glue it to a thicker paper used as the canvas.



  • Chiyogami Mosaics ~ Six colour co-coordinated sheets of larger and smaller sizes plus over 20 pieces of Chiyogami paper in surprise patterns, colours, and sizes.
  • Floral Collection ~ A package of Chiyogami papers measuring 8.5 x 11" (21.6  x 27.9 cm) each. Includes five sheets with Japanese floral patterns.
  • Japanese Traditional ~ Includes five colour co-ordinated 8.5 x 11" (21.6  x 27.9 cm) sheets of Chiyogami paper with traditional Japanese motif patterns.
  • Chiyogami Buffet ~ Package of 45 Chiyogami sheets in a "buffet" of assorted patterns and sizes.
  • Emergency Pocket Pack ~ Mix of 3 x 3" (7.6 x 7.6 cm) Chiyogami sheets in 24 patterns. For art emergencies!
  • Kimono Squares ~ 6 hand-printed squares of Japanese papers, each 8.5 x 8.5 " (21.6 x 21.6 cm).

Inspired? We hope so. Using Japanese paper is a great way to develop your creativity and learn a little bit about Japanese culture. There's a reason these papers and crafts have remained popular for hundreds of years.

If you try iris folding, chigiri-e, or find another use for your chiyogami sheets, let us know!

May 04, 2021 — Antoinette D'Angelo

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