By Farah AlRasheed
Books were always objects that were utilized for knowledge in the Islamic world. Collections were made for calligraphy, illustrations, as well as religious knowledge. What is now Iraq was the ancient Sumer, where trading was a big part of the businessmen's world. They had difficulties keeping track of all the transactions they had made and so clay tablets were made in tiny shapes to mark some details. Then comes paper, a gift that was brought by Muslims from China. It happened after the battle that took place between the Chinese and the Muslims. Surprisingly, the secret of paper making was told by Chinese prisoners to Muslims. After taking a course in papermaking, where paper can be made by everything and anything that surrounds us all, it wasn't strange to hear that Muslims "employed linen as a substitute for the bark of the mulberry. Rags of linen were to be disintegrated, saturated with water, and made to ferment.
After the rags are drenched in water and are prepared to be fermented, the alkaline residue and the dirt were eliminated as they are boiled. Unlike what we are blessed to have now the rags were beaten to a pulp using a trip hammer, a tool of maceration invented by the Muslims.
Baghdad was known to be the first to establish many paper mills and that is how the industry grew even further. Europe used the paper mills in Damascus as a resource for paper and stationary. A library of organized collections of materials that were written.
If you see the word papyrus, know that that's where the word paper came from in the Ancient Egypt times. It was used before the invention of paper that came out way before Christ. Bones, stones, and turtle bones were used to record information and write before paper came out. The reason why the Muslims and earlier on, the Chinese were adamant on the use of paper to avoid forgery during trades and anything business related.
What interested me the most was that the Islamic society had a "paper economy". Not only that they had retail and wholesale for the business of paper but they also took longer to accept the use of paper " as a fitting support for God's word." The invention still comes from the Chinese but was discovered by Muslims in the 8th century. It then arrived by North Africa through the silk road Muslim travelers and finally arrived to Europe with a huge market.
A highly renowned paper maker mentioned an artist whose name is, Radha Pandey, who focused on the invention of papermaking in Islam. Pandey made it quite evident in her research the comparison of the use of Islamic papermaking and flexible molds to Japanese and Korean papermaking techniques. I thought it was amazing to see that Pandey connected with one of the families that first implanted this tradition in their lives. She got to continue her research with Kagzis. Also, Pandey gives workshops on how paper is made in the ancient Islamic times by "dipping the vat once, the mold is then floated and pushed gently back down into the vat until the freshly-formed sheet floats off the mold gently. It is then dipped a second time before couching. Dyes are traditionally added to the vat, and then brushed onto the finished sheets before burnishing with an agate stone." She describes the technique on her research of Islamic papermaking which is also mentioned in her website linked below.
Suminagashi is an ancient technique of marbling paper with inks. The history of its conception is one for debate. We know for sure that Suminagashi dates back to the 12the century during the Edo period. However, Shigeharu a Japanese poet references the techniques as early as 825- 880 c.e. In the 12th century, Japanese Shinto priests where practicing the Suminagshi techniques for a few different applications. Some applications include decorative works that accompanied calligraphy of haikus. The Japanese believed there where a strong parallel between the fundamental essence of haiku poetry and the unpredictable results of Suminagashi. This connection made Suminagashi and haiku poetry a perfect match both conceptually and aesthetically. Alyson Kuhn a paper artist who has been practicing and teaching Suminagashi for years. Alyson elaborates on this further, “Making Suminagashi is very fluid, if the wind blows, it will ripple your design. It’s very much about the senses, about combining nature, yourself and art all in one. It’s so fitting that many Suminagashi prints are crafted to illustrate haiku. You can’t really control the process, and you aren’t really supposed to.”
The Japanese royal court enjoyed and lifted the practice out of obscurity for not only for the beauty of its craft but also for a more functional application. Aside from haikus Suminagahsi was also used for correspondence as well as official documents. This was adopted for its ability to ensure authenticity.
While researching Suminagashi I found that often their where references that compared Turkish marbling techniques with Japanese. Consequently, I developed a brief consensus on both crafts. In its essence, Suminagashi is viewed as more purist due to in its simplicity. Meaning that is there fewer variables such as in the colors, tools, and ingredients necessary in compared to Turkish marbling techniques. The process is one that requires few supplies and is generaly pretty simple and accessible. Sumingashi is generally more minimalist in its approach compared to other forms paper marbling.
To begin you will need a tray of water an about 2 inches deep, two brushes, ink and a surfactant. A surfactant is an agent that lowers the surface tension; the options vary from traditonal ox gal, which is oil from the ball gland of ox to carrageenan an agent used from seaweed. Some people even use Kodak Photo Flow or acrylic flow. Once you are setup you work with the two brushes, one dipped in ink and the other your surfactant. You then dip the brushes in the tray and go back and forth ever so slightly dipping the brushes into the tray. It is important to just touch the surface to not have the ink sink to the bottom of the tray. Once you are satisfied with the pattern you place a suitable paper down for a few seconds and then pull it off the water and lay it out o a board to dry.
The ability to take your time is a luxury unique to Suminagashi. The freedom to not race against the clock allows for a more therapeutic experience. Turkish marbling has many attributes that Suminagashi does not, however drying time it not one of them. Turkish marbling is much thicker and the sizing reduces the movement of the ink, providing for a more controllable state. This allows for more technical precision. In contrary, Suminagashi's movement is based on the wind and even your breath. This may be the most polarizing aspect between these two techniques. Beautiful in their own way, one must ask if they want that control or not.
Suminagashi has a long history and is now experiencing resurgence not just in Japan but also in many parts of this world. Some artists have maintained the traditional techniques such as Diane Maurer Mathison. Diane is a renowned paper artist. Dianne is also the author of the Ultimate Marbling Handbook. Another artist I recommend checking out is, Andrea Peterson. Andrea putts a strong emphasis on the variety of paper she uses. Andrea believes that the importance of the paper choice for Suminagashi is equally as important as when you decide on paper for printmaking, there are many variables to consider. Tadao Fukuda is one of the most respected traditional Sumingashi artist in the world. In his eighties he still has the energy to teach workshops on a regular basis Fakuda resides in Kyoto and is designated as an intangible cultural asset in Japan.
Other artists have blurred the lines between Turkish marble techniques and Suminagashi, working less traditionally. Often I see the mixing and matching of different materials from the different techniques. One example is Natalie Stopka. Natalie uses silk allowing for them to be hung on a wall or worn as scarves. Below is a few examples of Natalie’s work.
Many artists are taking inspiration from Suminagashi and applying it to their ceramic wok. One such artist is Carol Forster. Below are a few examples her work.
Another contemporary approach to paper marbling can be seen in the works coming out of Brooklyn New York's Calico Wallpaper. Calico Wallpaper is a company founded by Rachel and Nick Cope. Rachel and Nick combine principles and techniques from a variety of forms of paper marbling. Combining multiple methods, Rachel and Nick have developed their own unique contemporary adaptation of paper marbling. Below are a few works from Calico’s collection
Sources: Suminagshi- Zome by Tokutaro Yagi.
Hot Sand Paper Casting
Processes of papermaking have a variety of techniques in creating paper art. Creating work out of something that is traditionally used as a two-dimensional surface for drawing, writing, and painting has caught my attention. I am drawn to paper taking the form of solid objects and became very interested in techniques by the artist Roberto Mannino who incorporates this in his art. He is an artist from Italy who is very attuned to processes of papermaking as well as sculpture and creates new experimental printmaking techniques. Through his amazing styles of paper art, I was most interested in his hot sand paper casting processes.
Roberto Mannino’s art is primarily made with handmade paper and techniques such as rubbing with graphite, papermaking, sculptures, hot sand paper casting, pulp painting, creating huge sheets of paper and experimental printmaking. In a dvd titled Paper Relief, Mannino took his fresh wet handmade paper to the beach and used the hot sand that was at the beach for his casting technique.
The hot sand paper casting comes from pouring sand on the wet paper. The paper needs to be freshly made or wet. The sand creates weight that can take the shape of the mold or object. The hot sand speeds up the process of drying and keeps the paper in contact with the relief mold and prevents the paper from shrinking. The surface can be basically whatever you desire that can with stand the paper and hot sand. The process is fast and your project can be done within a few minutes depending on how hot the sand it heated. There can be multi castings going on at one time.
If you are not on the beach, it is preferably to work outside because the sad get everywhere. Heating sand can be done in a heat proof tray, pot or pan on a stove, oven or microwave. Make sure it’s not a pan used for cooking and be sure to wear heat proof gloves to prevent any burns. The sand will also need to be mixed because the sand closets to the paper will get wet. If the sand is went the paper will not dry. It can also be put outside to dry fast. Once the paper is dry it can be taken off the mold. Through my experiments, it is good to use objects that are bigger than little plastic army toys. Super small objects tend to get stuck in the paper and can cause unwanted rips and tears.
The processes of hot sand paper casting is a very fast process once the processes have been successfully executed. It can get a bit messy so keep that in mind. A rigid surface is an ideal object to cast and can be made at the beach on a hot summer day, at home or in your studio. It will be a great project to work on in the summer especially here in Tempe.
Landes, Barbara. Sculptures of Handmade Paper. http://www.barbaralandes.com/roberto-mannino. Accessed 28 March. 2017
Roberto Mannino, Ariel Genovese. Paper Relief]: A Review of Papermaking Techniques : Roberto Mannino, Officine Video, 2005
Mannino, Roberto. http://www.robertomannino.it/contact.html. Accessed 9 March 2017
by CeCe Ramey
Typefaces are the clothes that our words wear. They are often chosen carefully to apply another layer of meaning to a piece of literature or art, or they are used to add identity to a brand. The word "people" has a different feeling when it is in Comic Sans versus Times New Roman. A funny thing to ask yourself as you walk by store signs is "What does that typeface make me feel?" A great tip is to quickly look and compare lowercase e, a, and g's when you get a chance. Many food companies choose typefaces with very wide smiling e's. But anyways..
To get back on topic and to my point, typefaces easily imbue meaning into words. They set a tone. However, this ability is also distracting under the wrong circumstances. Sometimes you need silence in typeface design, so that the information comes across clear and unadulterated. One instance of this is in road signs.
I very much doubt you have ever stopped at an intersection, looked at the road sign above the stop light, and said "Wow, what a pretty typeface!" To be honest, road sign typefaces are the ugliest boring typefaces I have ever seen. And this is why I find them oddly charming and very interesting.
There are two typefaces used in the United States, Clearview and Standard Highway Alphabet (aka FHWA, also aka Highway Gothic). FHWA or Highway Gothic is the older typeface developed in the United States during the Second World War. Recently, it has slowly been phased out with Clearview which is easier to read since the letters have more counter space, the space within letters. Notice how the Clearview lowercase e extends further than the Standard Highway Alphabet. The terminals in Clearview also all end with strong horizontal edges unlike the Standard Highway Alphabet (compare the ascender/vertical line of the d's). The x-height, or the height of the lowercase letters, is also larger in Clearview, causing the lowercase letters to be seen from farther away.
Small details in typeface design make all the difference. To make a typeface "silent" is not to make it indistinct, it is still important that each letter of a typeface clearly legible from another. Every typeface chosen for a text, book, paper, sign, billboard, or art is chosen for a reason by the maker. Even in our boring road signs.
Created by Vanessa Mendoza
My main focus on this research was to focus on Representation, I've noticed that I personally didn't know any people of color printmakers. Luckily ASU's Hayden library has a Chicano research department and special collections of books that I had as a great resource. My personal journey of seeking out people of color in the printmaking community has always been somewhat of a struggle for me. So to realize that ASU has a large collection of prints surrounding the Chicano culture and an array of topics like discussing the social issues surrounding immigration was more than inspirational and powerful to physically touch and see these prints in person.
Arizona State University has an amazing collection of printmaking prints throughout campus. One of the collections I've decided to research was created by Culturestrike called Migration Now which is located at Hayden Library in Tempe on the Luhrs Room which is on the fourth floor.
Migration Now portfolio consists of 37 prints that surround the social issues that affect migration. The limited edition portfolio consists of 140 portfolios and was created in 2012. The political posters are 12x18 in size and include different printmaking styles like relief, letterpress and screen printing.
Id hate to copy and paste but if you're looking for printmakers of color here are the contributing artists: Lalo Alcaraz -- Santiago Armengod -- Felipe Baeza -- Jesus Barraza -- Shaun Slifer & Janay Brun -- Kevin Caplicki -- Melanie Cervantes -- Irina Crisis -- Raoul Deal -- Emory Douglas -- El Mac -- Molly Fair -- Thea Gahr -- Art Hazelwood -- Ray Hernandez -- Nicolas Lampert -- Josh MacPhee -- Oscar Magallanes -- Fernando Marti -- Colin Matthes -- Cesar Maxit -- Dylan Miner -- Claude Moller -- Oree Originol -- Diane Ovalle -- Roger Peet -- Jesse Purcell -- Favianna Rodriguez -- Erik Ruin -- Julio Salgado -- Meredith Stern -- Mary Trem onte -- Kristine Virsis -- Pete Yahnke Railand -- Imin Yeh -- Ernesto Yerena Montejano -- Bec Young
Chicano Research Collection at the ASU Hayden Library.
If you want to look at the portfolio in person you can by giving the librarian this info:
Migration Now : a print portfolio of handmade prints addressing migrant issues
Call # JV6335 .J87 2012 Folio