Saturday, November 11, 2017

Ink + Washi = Love

I've been in kit mode for several months now. Actually, more like several years. I think it started with Art Snacks - a subscription box. At that time, I was also a Penfessional with Pentel, and so I was getting a lot of pens in the mail, so I ended up discontinuing that one. I'm a pen freak, but a pen freak with limited space. :)

But it started me down a road of sampling various all-inclusive kits.

Because I do so much original design work as I do for my blog and YouTube, sometimes I need someone else to design a project for me, so that I can have a mental break while still being creative, which I really need to do every day. So kits are perfect for that. And the internet is full of fun, quirky kits. Last year, I got a kit in Santa Fe where you could build these 3D paper robots. That was really fun. Kids' kits are fun - the paper robots certainly weren't aimed at my demographic, but it was a blast. Sometimes I'm 8 in my head anyway.

The Japanese Creations craft kits are sort of a hybrid. They come with very detailed online instruction that is perfect for kids. As a matter of fact - I think if I were still teaching, these would be very fun art units - perfect for anyone who homeschools, I think.

But the supplies in the kits are very much adult art supplies. They are all sourced in Japan for authenticity, and I loved the materials in the two kits I got - the Chigiri-e (a washi paper tearing technique) and the Etegami kit - which is a sumi ink drawing/painting kit.

The Chigiri-e kit is full of stunning washi paper. Think mulberry paper that has gone to an Ivy League school. The paper is hand-dyed spectacular colors, and has the absolutely finest little fibers in it, so that when you tear it, you have tons of control, and it leaves these beautiful, soft, fuzzy edges that you can see in my simple landscape - the edges really look like grass, and the yellow/orange paper is stunning. Traditional Chigiri-e uses the paper to make much more intricate shapes - flowers, etc., but I wanted to keep it simple to show off that amazing color. I added a die cut for the sentiment.
Now true confession time - I had purchased a whole sumi ink stone setup in Santa Fe at Artisan a few years ago, and then never looked up specific instructions, so this was a good incentive to learn about it. I watched some of the online instruction just to get the basics, and learned a few important things. My tendency in watercolor is to do fine detail with small brushes, and so I'm usually holding my brush like a pencil. With sumi ink drawings they encourage you to hold the brush at the very end, so that your lines are deliberately loose. The paper in the cards included in the kit is a beautiful textured paper that is not watercolor paper - so the ink sort of dives into the fibers and spreads out a bit - it's beautiful and fun, and very different for someone who is used to watercolor. The ink stone comes with a beautiful ink dish that has a slanted well. You put a small amount of water in the well, and then dip the stone into the water and rub it against the slightly textured, slanted well until it "melts" into a puddle of ink that you then paint with. (Since sumi is not watercolor - it will dry solid in the dish if you don't clean it and it will not be re-wettable, so always clean your ink stone after using it.)

I figured I'd better not be too ambitious on my first try, so I went for an abstract landscape, trying to get used to holding the brush by the end, and seeing how the ink behaved with the off-white, textured cards that come with the kit. Like watercolor, you can add more water for lighter greys, and add a little more ink stone for darker ones. I think it would be a fun and relaxing way to do your value studies prior to a watercolor sketch.
[ SSS ]
Prayers - Stamp and Die bundle
[ HA | SSS | SBC ]
Measylife Japanese Chinese...
Yasutomo Bamboo Calligraphy Brush
[ BLIC ]
Zig Kuretake ETEGAMI PAPER 20 Pieces...
[ SSS ]
Kuretake Gansai Tambi Watercolor Sets
7-Well Flower Palette
[ BLIC ]
Heritage Arts Detachable Plastic...
Tsukineko Full-Size VersaColor...
Stewart Superior Memories India Ink...
Absorber - Synthetic Cleaning Cloth
MISTI Stamping Tool
[ MSW | SBC | SSS ]

The kit also comes with a selection of Gansai Tambi watercolors as well, which you can use with the ink. The instruction and projects are kid-friendly, the packaging is pretty, and in general, that was a super fun break from my design routine. You can buy the full kit with all of the online instruction for it (it's extensive - the Etegami instruction has 47 lessons - some video, some written - so that's why I think it would make a great study module for kids) at Japanese Creations, and I've listed some similar individual supplies above as well.

I'll be back next week with the Occasions catalog goodies I got on preorder, so stay tuned for that!



  1. Such beautiful cards Lydia! Love the colors on the first one especially!

  2. Love the creative encouragement to try something new! Always fun to read your posts.

  3. Dang, you just reeled me in again! I've always liked mulberry paper, so trying this new (to me) "Ivy League" version is a must. Here I go!

  4. Whoa, those are gorgeous. I love the rich colors of the torn washi and the soft inks of sumi stone. You are a brave woman. I am afraid of sumi. My mom raised me with "you will never be a perfect Japanese." I'll stick to Copic markers and color pencils :D


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