JAIC 1984, Volume 24, Number 1, Article 8 (pp. 59 to 59)
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Journal of the American Institute for Conservation
JAIC 1984, Volume 24, Number 1, Article 8 (pp. 59 to 59)


Betty Fiske

Timothy D.Barrett. Japanese Papermaking: Traditions, Tools, and Techniques. Appendix on alternative fibers by Winifred Lutz. Tokyo, John Weatherhill, Inc., 1983. $32.50. 320 pages, 176 illustratinos, footnotes, glossary, bibliography, supplier list. Illustrations by Richard Flavin, technical drawings by Howard clark, photographs by Timothy Barrett and Nicholas Graetz.

Tim Barrett, an AIC member, is known to many in the conservation field for his lectures and papermaking workshops and for his own production of fine quality book and paper conservatino papers from his shop, Kalamazoo Handmade Papers. On fulbright and NEA grants Barrett studied papermaking in Japan from 1975 to 1977, and in 1979 produced a limited edition book, Nagashizuki: the Japanese Craft of Hand Paper-making, Bird and Bull Press, which describes the processas practiced in Japan.

The current book focuses on contemporary application of the craft for Westerners, traditinoal and simplidifed versions, for beginner or more experienced paper-maker. It includes detailed formulas, equipment design and methodology. Through experienced description and anecdote the author gives comprehensive working information, rich in nuance and critical sensibility. As valuable as the technical facts, in a gentle, personal way Barrett attempts to communicate what often seems a cliché to Western minds, the philosophical basis in Japances craft, reverence and harmony. though perhaps ultimately what Yasuichi Kubota, maker of Important Intangible cultural PRoperty Sekishu-hanshi, says is true, “You cannot learn the essence of it from a book,” Barrett greatly contributes to making the process rational and accessible.

The book is divided in two parts: the craft in Japan and—the main body of the book—the craft in the West. Only very limited history is presented. Much emphasis is placed on fiber preparation, timing and method of cooking and beating, as the core of the end quality of the sheet of paper. Lutz's appendix encourages intelligent experimentation wit native American fibers. Evaluation and achievement of quality, including conservation concerns for purity and longevity, are discussed throughout the text.

The content and approach of Japanese Papermaking: Traditions, Tools and Techniques carefully does not duplicate Barrett's earlier book or that of Washi: The World of Japanese Paper by Sukey Hughes (Tokyo, kodansha Internatinoal, 1978). Hughes' book presents an objective, researched history of Japanese paper, the basic process, paper uses, fibers some of the leading papermakers, and a fine description of many specific types of paper. the glossaries and bibliographies in teh two books are differenet: Barrett geared to technique and Hughes geared to history.

For those seriously interested in japanese craft, both books are excellent references. For those tho love paper, for conservators who use Japanese paper, Barrett's book can furnish understanding of factors affecting paper characteristics and behavior such as color variation, strength, dimensional stability and aging. And finally, it speaks, as technical books seldom do, to the intangible qualities of Washi that have to do with its unique and enduring beauty and usefulness.


Copyright © 1984 American Institute for Conservation of Historic and Artistic Works