Modern machine–made washi and the implications for contemporary conservation practice

Jane Colbourne, Manami Hori

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

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Japanese paper, commonly known as washi, is an important commercial commodity and intrinsic to both Western and Eastern conservation techniques due to its strength, transparency and excellent ageing properties. With modern technology and the slow decline in hand-made papermaking, much of the paper produced in Japan today is machine made-essentially a hybrid of traditional Asian techniques and European influences. How this paper is made and the materials used in its construction are often a closely guarded secret for obvious commercial reasons. Newly developed sizing agents, chemical treatments and the substitution of high quality bast fibres for inferior wood furnishes, are a concern for the conservation profession in regards to possible changes to the papers long- term behaviour, and immediate physical alterations due to the fibres strong orientation towards the machine-grain direction. The article collates and compares the materials and methods used in producing hand and machine-made washi and considers the potential risks and benefits resulting from current innovations. The study goes into the heart of paper production and distribution in Japan and as a consequence provides new knowledge to Western audiences. It also serves to clarify certain key technical terms which are currently open to a wide variety of interpretations.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationAdapt & Evolve 2015: East Asian Materials and Techniques in Western Conservation
Subtitle of host publicationProceedings from the International Conference of the Icon Book & Paper Group 8–10 April 2015
Place of PublicationLondon
Publication statusPublished - 13 Jul 2015

Publication series

NameJournal of the Institute of Conservation
PublisherTaylor & Francis
ISSN (Print)1945-5224


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