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The Annual Handmade Papermaking Workshop

The Annual Handmade Papermaking Workshop
by Naoko Makita

Special Workshop in Winter

The special workshop in 2005 was held from March 12th to 13th. We had total of 20 participants from throughout Japan. On the first day, we had an orientation session for discussing description of the work processes and brief self-introduction of all the participants. Although they have each different reasons to join this workshop, it seemed this occasion that they can try paper making from the absolute beginning was appealing to the most of people.

After the orientation, we went to the field of Mitsumata trees. Under the guidance of Mr. Satoh and Mr. Fujimori, we learned how to distinguish the length and thickness of branches to cut as well as the process of cutting and how to make the branches into a bundle. After the direction, we were just concentrated on cutting. After less than 1 hour, the loading platform of a small truck was filled by Mitsumata branches. Then we moved to other location for steaming the branches for 2 hours. After we had a lunch time while the Mitsumata was steamed, we started peeling the outer bark of Mitsumata. On the afternoon, the wind started blowing and snowing as well in this season of the year! But we were all focused on peeling the bark by while one person holds the branch, another strips the bark. After peeling the outer bark, we processed the bark into white bark. Since we had to use water for this process, it was quite tough to work on by using cold water on the snowing day. But all the participants worked hard since the result of this stage will affect on the finish of their paper. Because of everyone's great efforts, a good amount of Mitsumata was turned into white bark for paper making on the next day. We brought the white bark to the hall and cooked for the next day.

On the second day, we had snow a few inches depth and it was continuously snowing from the morning. I was little worried that some of the participants might not be able to show up, but all of them arrived to the hall on time. First, we refined the cooked Mitsumata and beat the Mitsumata into fine fiber. While a few people are practicing paper making with Kozo fiber, the others beat the Mitsumata in rotation. All the participants practiced paper making with the direction of Mrs. Ueta and Mr. Fujimori, and most of them has become enable to form a sheet of paper nicely. After Mitsumata fibers are ready, they all concentrated on making sheets with their own fiber. After few hours of practicing and making paper, the time was up and all the session was ended.
These 2 days went really fast but it was really pleasant to me to hear the comments from the participants that they had enjoyed these whole processes of paper making.

Mitsumata

Cutting Mitsumata branches

Setting the Mitsumata into a steamer

Most fun part.
It’s a funny moment that they can help each other even though they have no clue who they are.

By using a special tool, peeling off the brown outer bark from the bark.

Cooking bark. On this day, we processed approximately 8 kg of dried Mitsumata bark.

On the second day, we formed a sheet with Mitsumata.

In spite of the hard and tight schedule, everyone worked really hard in a snowing freezing weather. We thank you all the participants for joining this workshop and share the joy of paper making!