Notes on Washi for Pt/Pd Printing

Below are some preliminary notes on the various washi (Japanese paper) that I have tested recently. I’ll be adding more details as I have time.

One thing to mention now is that I had to learn a different strategy for coating most of them than what we are used to with most western papers. Rather than pouring a pre-measured quantity of solution on the paper and then spreading it, due to the absorbency of most washi it is much better to to mix your solution in a container large enough to allow dipping the brush. I suggest studying these excellent videos by Masayuki Nishimaru and Nobuyuki Kobayashi:

The volume of solution needed can vary widely among washi. I am currently printing a new body of work on Gampi Torinoko for which I have found that I need 4-5ml for a 7×17″ image size with very tight edges. This is not quite double the volume needed for the same thing on Arches Platine. It is not necessary to go over the entire area repeatedly and rapidly, unlike most western papers; try to work slowly and deliberately. I have not done anything larger than 4×5 yet on most of the others, though I can say that Mohachi and Shin Torinoko behave much more like western papers, and that Gampi-shi, Hakkinshi, Hosakawa, and Goyu are very thirsty. The pre-sized washi that I tried are less absorbent as expected, but I wasn’t very impressed with them. I haven’t yet tried sizing them myself but intend to with the 4 listed above.

The papers are listed by source.

All tests were made using standard B&S ferric oxalate and palladium with a tiny amount of Na2 to prevent fog. I also added Tween 20 to the mix, but have since found it to be unnecessary with most washi. (0.5ml FO + 0.5ml Pd + 1 drop 0.6% Na2 + 1 drops T20.) All tests were developed in potassium oxalate at room temperature (~75°F).

Dmax and Exposure Scale (ES) values are derived from density values from a 21-step Stouffer step tablet plotted and analyzed using BTZS Plotter with IDmax set at 90%.

Hiromi Paper 

Gampi Torinoko White (KH-1)

  • 100gsm; 22.5×30; $22.00
  • 100% Philippine gampi; unsized; hand-made in Kochi by Kensho Ishimoto
  • Dmax=1.47; ES=1.82.
  • Fairly heavy by washi standards, and with a pronounced texture somewhat like distressed leather.
  • Rich lustrous black and smooth tonal scale. Coats easily even without sizing. Sometimes appears to be underexposed until dry. My personal favorite.
  • Note: The original version of this paper, made by the late Masao Seki, was 92gsm, 20×30″, and smoother than the current version.

Gampi-shi (HM-5)

  • 30gsm; 25×38; $19.36
  • 100% Japanese gampi; unsized; hand-made at the Awagami Factory in Tokushima
  • Dmax=1.46; ES=2.05
  • Somewhat like Hakkinshi as far as printing and handling characteristics. Surface has a nice sheen.

Awagami C-Gampi (HM-33)

  • 16gsm; 25×38″; $22.50
  • 100% Japanese gampi; unsized; hand-made at the Awagami Factory in Tokushima
  • Dmax=
  • A thinner version of HM-5.

Sekishu Torinoko Gampi (HP-60)

  • 17gsm; 21×28.5″; $17.22
  • 100% Japanese Gampi; unsized; hand-made by Akira Kubota in Shimane Prefecture
  • Dmax=1.46; ES=
  • Prone to highlight fog, and so requires more restrainer (Na2, etc.) than others. I don’t know why.

Echizen Shikibu Color Gampi (ECG-36)

  • 18gsm; 21.5×30″; $17.05
  • 100% Japanese Gampi; unsized; hand-made in Fukui in a wide range of colors (I have only tested the white version)
  • Dmax=1.48; ES=1.90
  • It’s hard to overstate how lovely this paper is.

Echizen Shikibu Gampi #1 (ECG-1)

  • 25gsm; 25×37″; $29.12
  • 100% Japanese Gampi; unsized; hand-made in Fukui
  • Dmax=1.52; ES=
  • Deep rich black, very smooth tonal scale.

Tosa Hakkinshi

  • 28gsm; 24.5×38; $27.90
  • 70% kozo, 30% gampi; unsized; hand-made in Kochi by Hiroshi Tamura
  • Dmax=1.40; ES=2.10.
  • Good black and extremely long tonal scale. Tricky to work with since solution soaks through and spreads. Almost disappears in tray when wet. May respond to sizing.

Hosokawa Student (HO-67)

  • 39gsm; 24×36; $5.25
  • 70% Thai kozo; unsized; hand-made
  • Dmax=1.43; ES=2.02
  • Rich black and long scale. Solution soaks through, similar to Goyu, but less bleeding. Try sizing with dosa.

Mohachi (HM-64)

  • 185gsm; 16×25; $11.22
  • hemp, cotton, and sulphite; internally sized; hand-made in Fukui
  • Dmax=1.30; ES=1.62
  • Prints much like a high quality western paper such as Arches Platine.

Echizen Hanga Dosa (EHD)

  • 103gsm; 26×38; $26.25
  • kozo and sulphite; internally sized; hand-made in Fukui
  • Dmax=1.35; ES=1.35.
  • Smooth tonal scale, good depth, rather contrasty.

Tosa Maruishi (KH-19)

  • 100gsm; 25×38; $23.75
  • kozo and sulphite; internally sized; hand-made in Kochi
  • Dmax=1.32; ES=
  • Long scale and good depth, but many fibers did not absorb coating

McClain’s Printmaking Supply

Gampi Torinoko (P6805)

  • 100gsm; 22.5×30; $22.00  (website says 75gsm and 21.5×30)
  • 100% Philippine gampi; unsized; hand-made in Kochi by Kensho Ishimoto
  • Dmax=1.47; ES=1.82.
  • Rich lustrous black and smooth tonal scale. Coats easily even without sizing. Same as the Gampi Torinoko above. My favorite.

Masa Dosa (P6903)

  • 90gsm; 23×32; $8.95
  • kozo and acid-free pine pulp; sized; hand-made
  • Dmax=1.36; ES=1.74.
  • This is not the Masa commonly found in the US. Prints well but delicate when wet.

Torinoko White (P6853)

  • 145gsm; 25×37; $17.60
  • 70% mitsumata, 30% sulphite; sized; machine-made
  • Dmax=1.37; ES=1.78.
  • Prints well, but this is a multi-ply (2 or maybe 3) paper that separates when wet.

Shin Torinoko White (P6905)

  • 125gsm; 25.5×38; $4.95
  • 50% manilla linen, 50% acid-free pine pulp; machine-made
  • Dmax=1.32; ES=1.69.
  • A western style paper that prints very easily. Black could be better. Like a lighter weight version of Bergger COT320.

Torinoko Light Weight (P6855)

Nishinouchi (P6801)

Bostick & Sullivan

Goyu

  • 50gsm; 21×29; $5.25
  • 50% kozo, 50% sulphite; unsized; hand-made
  • Dmax=1.42; ES=1.95
  • Prints beautifully, but solution soaks through quickly and bleeds. Similar to Hosakawa but bleeds more. Try sizing.

Kozoshi

7 thoughts on “Notes on Washi for Pt/Pd Printing”

  1. Hi Keith – I was wondering about the way you size the light Kozo paper you get from B & S. I have some and I’d like to be able to take advantage of it but I’ve had various coating and processing issues mostly related to the absorbency and delicacy of the paper. Any feedback/assistance would be appreciated!

    1. Hi Scott — You are referring to the Goyu, right? I have to confess that I haven’t gotten around to trying any sizing yet. Too many irons in the fire right now. My plan is to try the traditional Japanese sizing known as Dosa, which is rabbit skin glue (nikawa) and alum (myoban). I got the ingredients from Hiromi (http://store.hiromipaper.com/myobansizingdosa.aspx). McClain’s also has it as a kit (http://www.imcclains.com/catalog/kits/dosakit.html).

      Here are a couple of references:
      http://paperconnection.com/paper-sizing-101/
      http://woodblock.com/encyclopedia/entries/016_02/016_02.html

      Click to access SizingPaper.pdf

      For a similar paper that is already sized, you might want to try Masa Dosa from McClain’s.

      Keith

      1. Hi Keith! Thanks for the information!
        Did you use calibration, how are the results?
        I printed on washi, the result is good, but it absorbs like a sponge. I want to make a calibration based on a rabbit glue, but don’t know which alum to use.

      2. Sorry for the delayed response, Ilya. I just discovered a few comments/questions that I was not notified of by email.

        You may have figured something out that works for you by now, but in case you haven’t …

        I think any sizing that you might use with western papers would likely also be suitable for washi. If you want to use traditional Japanese sizing, a couple of options are:

        1. Dosa which is made from myoban (alum) and nikawa (cow skin glue). There are many recipes for Dosa.

        Click to access SizingPaper.pdf


        https://store.hiromipaper.com/collections/materials-supplies/products/myoban-sizing-dosa
        https://store.hiromipaper.com/collections/materials-supplies/products/nikawa-cow-skin-glue-sticks-and-beads

        2. Konnyaku — I’m guessing here but I think this is what Awagami used for sizing the washi they made specifically for alt-process printing. My suspicion came from a conversation with a representative from Awagami who denied those washi were sized with Dosa, but would neither confirm or deny when I asked about Konnyaku.
        https://store.hiromipaper.com/collections/materials-supplies/products/konnyaku-powder

        Keith

  2. Hello!
    Can you tell me how you clear Gampi Torinoko, without altering the shine of the surface?
    Thx in advance.
    Philippe

    1. Hi Philippe,

      The Gampi Torinoko that I use(d) has not been available since shortly after this article was posted in 2016. With that paper I never had a problem with loss of surface sheen after processing. I use a 3 bath sequence: bath 1 is 5% disodium EDTA, bath 2 is 2.5% sodium sulfite, and bath 3 is 5% tetrasodium EDTA; 10 minutes in each bath; a water rinse between baths is optional.

      There is a Gampi Torinoko still available in the US through Legion Paper and it’s dealers, but it is NOT the same as the one I used to get from Hiromi, McClain’s, and New York Central. Even though it looks superficially similar it has slightly different size and weight specs and handles very poorly in wet processing, unlike the paper I was writing about here which handled exceptionally well.

      The naming of Japanese papers by paper sellers is a tricky thing. Some papers are made in very small quantities. The same or a very similar name may be used for papers papers that are quite different. Language and translation among multiple languages makes it all the more confusing. Gampi is the name of the plant that is the source of the fiber — like cotton or flax. Torinoko means “egg shell” and generally refers to the surface texture but seems to be used very loosely.

      Hope that helps,
      Keith

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