View Full Version : Washi Suncatchers

01-25-2015, 09:19 PM

Over a year ago, I was in The Camera Store looking at photo paper for printing and came across a package of Moab Moenkopi Unryu 13X19 paper. I didnít buy it until later but that was the beginning of the journey. I started researching Japanese papers, leading me to several Calgary art supply stores. I bought several kinds, including handmade sheets made partly from mulberry bush and called Washi. I really like a type called Unryu, or Cloud Dragon. This translucent paper is highlighted throughout with strands of the mulberry fibers. I bought several thick sheets Ė 25Ēx37Ē - and started experimenting.
I discovered I didnít have to reinvent the wheel as there is a whole movement of people using inkjet printers to print on surfaces besides photo paper. It isnít viable to print directly on the washi paper because the surface is porous and wonít hold the ink. It needs to be coated and I found companies selling liquid coatings to prepare surfaces, including paper, for inkjet printing. I ordered several of these products and began to experiment. The material is brushed on the paper and left to dry. Two coats are desirable. Cutting and flattening the curled paper makes it run through the printer smoothly. I also experimented with using a carrier board and the straight paper path on my printer.
Last March, our family visited a street art fair in Tucson, where I saw a photographerís display of photos printed on large sheets of washi paper. He was selling large, framed portraits of flowers looking gorgeous on the translucent surface of the highly textured paper. I recognized I could use photos of my backyard sunflowers as subjects for my prints.
Beginning to understand the settings required in Lightroom to print properly, I was struck by how much the ambient light affects the prints. Thanks to the texture of the paper, I loved how they looked when backlit. Obviously framing a print by sticking the photo onto a mat, placing the mat onto a piece of glass, placing this into a frame and then sealing off the back of the frame with a board cuts off the possibility of backlighting.
That led to a trial of sandwiching the washi prints between two back-to-back mats, placing these between two pieces of acrylic and taping the edges with cloth tape to hold the whole thing together. Essentially, they are suncatchers. Placed on a window ledge, they look different at night and throughout the day depending on the sunís position.
As for the Moenkopi Unryu paper, it also turns out beautiful translucent prints but is much warmer than the paper I coated myself. For my taste, itís suitable for subjects other than flowers and is also much more expensive. Iím enjoying printing on both and learning from the process.

01-26-2015, 12:04 AM
Thanks for sharing MB. I like what you have done here. Innovative printing and presentation can really complete and enhance the creative process. It is something I am keen learn more about and experiment with.

03-15-2015, 01:05 AM
I've missed some awesome posts recently!!! Really love fabulous papers and these look great.

Moab Moenkopi Unryu 13X19 paper - is that the paper we are looking at in these 2 images?

03-15-2015, 05:58 AM
That looks awesome. Waaaayyyy too much effort required for me to even think about it but I can certainly appreciate the effort you put in. Very cool results. :thumbup:

03-15-2015, 01:43 PM
Yes it is a rather complicated lengthy process. I enjoy trying to do as much as I can by myself, including printing and framing.
Another step that recently occurred to me is to drill holes in the corners of the acrylic and mount them with hardware that would keep the frame away from the wall, allowing light to enter from the back. Examples of this are on websites advertising stand off kits Metal Prints | Photos on Aluminum | Posterjack (http://www.posterjack.ca/metalprints.php) or Mounting Kits | 3/8" StandOff Kits (http://www.standoffsystems.com/0.375-Diameter-Kit/) for mounting pictures.
Marko, the photos in the photo here are the Unryu paper I coated myself and printed and framed as described. The Moab Moenkopi Unryu paper is much more subtle in terms of the visibility of the fibres than this and warmer. It prints lovely textured flat prints. I found the ICC profile from the website to be excellent and accurate for color reproduction.

03-28-2015, 11:44 AM
Awesome. That's really cool processing.