Japanese Yuzen Paper Silkscreen Print Series

This Japanese Yuzen Paper silkscreen print series consists of three 22.5″ x 16.5″ prints. The first is based on a naturalistic peacock pattern print. It is black on white, finished with watercolors. The second and third are based on an abstract print pattern. They are both blue and black on white. The third print is finished in additional watercolors.

Chiyogami or yuzen refers to a specific type of Japanese decorative paper. Originally, the Japanese used wood blocks to apply their designs to their handmade paper. Today, they produce most of this decorative paper with silkscreen techniques.

Our aim was to combine watercolors with silkscreen printing. The contrast between naturalistic and abstract designs shows the range of this type of decorative art.

The Papermaking Process

Japanese yuzen washi paper starts out as a base sheet made of kozo and other plant-based fibers. The finished paper is so strong and durable that you can sew on it and use it in textile art.

This paper derives its inspiration from kimono fabric. Artists from across Japan craft each design. They silkscreen the color patterns by hand, one layer at a time. Then they fully dry each color before they can apply the next one. Gold or metallic overlay usually provides the final layer. This creates shiny highlights that catch light and attention.

The Japanese originally used this decorative paper for paper dolls and to decorate tins and boxes. Today, they use it in a variety of arts and crafts. These include collage, bookbinding, origami, jewelry, and home decor.