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ANSWERED on Sun 16 Dec 2007 - 3:46 am UTC by bobbie7

Question: Japanese "leather" wallpaper - how was it made?

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Fri 14 Dec 2007 - 1:11 pm UTC

Question

kurtosis
Customer

I'm looking for technical details about how Japanese "leather" wallpaper, which was manufactured in Japan in the 19th century for export to Europe and North America, was actually manufactured. It's often known as kinkarakami, but the transliterations from the Japanese seem to vary, although this might be because I am looking at descriptions of different types of paper. Some of the recent literature is in German, and as far as I can see may use different German phrases for one and the same process. The stuff itself is made from paper and tinfoil, moulded and treated to give the effect of embossed leather. It seems to have been a traditional Japanese craft process before it was developed into a semi-industrial process. What I'm interested in is the technical process used for the wallpaper exported to the West, which was made from about 1870 to maybe 1910 or so, partocularly any contemporary accounts. All help greatly appreciated.

 
 

Fri 14 Dec 2007 - 3:02 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Request for clarification

Bobbie Sevens
Researcher

Hello Kurtosis,

I located an article about Kinkarakawakami (gold-embossed wallpaper). There is a section explaining how this paper is made.
Scroll down to the center of the page at the following link to read about it.
http://www.handmadejapan.com/e_/features_/eft008_01.htm

Is this the kind of information you're looking for?

Thanks,
Bobbie7

 

Fri 14 Dec 2007 - 6:20 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Request for clarification

Bobbie Sevens
Researcher

Kurtosis,

The process of making leather paper is described in the book "The Industries of Japan" by J. J. Rein
http://books.google.com/books?id=YtePXGmDI70C&hl=en

Google books provided full page views of the relevant information.

See page 411
Leather Papers or Kami-Kawa
http://books.google.com/books?id=YtePXGmDI70C&pg=PA412-IA1&vq=leather+paper&sig=cstwek8BciYDlU3vd86l9nEW8FU

The process is explained on page 412
http://books.google.com/books?id=YtePXGmDI70C&pg=PA412-IA2&dq=%22The+paper+is+spread+out+on+a+board%22&ei=o8hiR8jREoP0iwHdnuCABw&sig=cyqkFCEmtozjHzCva5VJ1_E7d18


Let me know if this information is more on target?

Thanks,
Bobbie7

 

Sun 16 Dec 2007 - 3:46 am UTC

Uclue Researcher Answer

Bobbie Sevens
Researcher

Hello Kurtosis,

I continued my search and I discovered further information on the making of Japanese leather paper.


From the Conservation Online mailing list:

"In brief, this "leather" is actually wallpaper, first imported
during the Meiji Period (1868-1912), Rottman Strome and Co. sold
them in Europe; the papers were produced in Yokohama and Tokyo.
Basically a number of layers of paper--different quality for
different papers and times were embossed (some not "hollow," but
padded out. some colors are stencilled, others are painted. The
papers are "lacquered"--have not done an analysis, but the solvent
is alcohol--this and the date suggest a natural resin."


A superb essay dealing with this type of material is found in:

    Felicity L. Leung. "Japanese Wallpaper in Canada, 1880s-1930s",
    Material History Bulletin, 28 (fall/1988), pp 35 -42.

Source:
Preservation Department of Stanford University Libraries
Conservation OnLine mailing list
http://sul-server-2.stanford.edu/byform/mailing-lists/cdl/2002/0093.html


An online copy of the above article ""Japanese Wallpaper in Canada, 1880s-1930s" is available for free at Cape Breton University Digital Collections.

The complete article starts on page 35.
http://collections.mun.ca/cdm-cbu/document.php?CISOROOT=/cbu&CISOPTR=4549&REC=7
Page 36-37 describes how this leather paper is made.

Source:
Material History Bulletin #28 (1988, Fall)
http://collections.mun.ca/cdm-cbu/document.php?CISOROOT=/cbu&CISOPTR=4549&REC=7

 
----------------------------------------


From The Historic New England Magazine:

"Japanese leather paper was one of the many relief decorations designed to appeal to the late-nineteenth century taste for elaborate patterns imitating tooled leather. The patterns were embossed onto wide rolls of paper several layers thick. The front was then covered with a gold wash, the background color applied with a stencil, and lastly, the entire surface was lacquered."

Historic New England Magazine - Winter/Spring 2004 http://www.historicnewengland.org/NEHM/2004WinterSpringPage08.htm


-------------------------------


A Japanese leather paper workshop was held at the British Museum in July 2007.

"Craftsman Ueda Takashi, the only practitioner in the world of kinkarakami, the making of gold-embossed wallpapers from Japanese paper (washi), teaches his rare skill."
British Museum
http://www.britishmuseum.org/PDF/Large%20print%20WO%20July%20August%202007.pdf
Unfortunately I was not able to locate another workshop.


-------------------------------


And here  are my previous findings.


The process of making leather paper is described in the book "The Industries of Japan" by J. J. Rein
http://books.google.com/books?id=YtePXGmDI70C&hl=en

Google books provided full page views of the relevant information.

See page 411
Leather Papers or Kami-Kawa
http://books.google.com/books?id=YtePXGmDI70C&pg=PA412-IA1&vq=leather+paper&sig=cstwek8BciYDlU3vd86l9nEW8FU

The process is explained on page 412
http://books.google.com/books?id=YtePXGmDI70C&pg=PA412-IA2&dq=%22The+paper+is+spread+out+on+a+board%22&ei=o8hiR8jREoP0iwHdnuCABw&sig=cyqkFCEmtozjHzCva5VJ1_E7d18


---------------------------------



Here is an article about Kinkarakawakami (gold-embossed wallpaper). There is a section explaining how this paper is made.
Scroll down to the center of the page at the following link to read about it.
handmadejapan.com
http://www.handmadejapan.com/e_/features_/eft008_01.htm


I hope the information provided is helpful.


Best regards,
Bobbie7

 
 

Tue 18 Dec 2007 - 7:59 pm UTC

Comment

kurtosis
Customer

Hi Bobbie7,

Firstly, really sorry it's taken me so long to get back to you and many thanks for such a quick and efficient response. When you asked for a clarification, you were already right on the button - I've now looked at the pages in the Rein book and they're exactly the sort of thing I was looking for. I know that due to my tardy response you've already widened the search, but ideally I'd like to pursue the Rein leads (there must be a pun in there somewhere...) and go deeper into manufacture and processes in Japan rather than stuff about cultural perceptions etc etc in Europe, which is fascinating but not where I'm coming from - which is why I classified the question under 'technology'. I'm wondering if there might be any museum / archive material that would help, maybe company or industry archives. Also any other contemporary, maybe even eyewitness, accounts to add to Rein would be extremely useful. I have a feeling that Rein is describing the traditional craft process, and Rottman had a factory which used an industrialised version of this, so their process would presumably differ. As I say, it all comes back to the technical details of the process or processes. And I don't know what your German is like for keyword searches - mine's non-existent! Thanks again for getting this far, and I know it might be a big ask to get any further in the direction I need.

All the best,

KO

 

Tue 18 Dec 2007 - 8:24 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Answer clarification

Bobbie Sevens
Researcher

Hi Kurtosis,

Thank you for your clarification. I'll resume my search and if I locate anything relevant I will post it here for you.

I don't know German; however we do have a German researcher here. If you need his services just post a question with "For Scriptor" in the subject line and he will look into it. 

Best regards,
Bobbie

 

Tue 18 Dec 2007 - 9:00 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Answer clarification

Bobbie Sevens
Researcher

Hello again Kurtosis,

Please download "REPORTS ON THE MANUFACTURE OF PAPER  IN JAPAN"
http://kew.org/scihort/ecbot/papers/parkes1871paper.pdf

Information on the making of leather paper can be found on page 11 under the heading "Method employed by the Japanese in the Manufacture of Paper from the Bark of the
Kaji  Tree"

Source:
Japan 1871
REPORTS ON THE MANUFACTURE OF PAPER  IN JAPAN.
Presented to both Houses of Parliament by Command of Her Majesty 1871
http://kew.org/scihort/ecbot/papers/parkes1871paper.pdf

I hope this is helpful.  In any case I will continue to search for  additional information.

Thank you for your patience.

Bobbie7

 

Wed 19 Dec 2007 - 1:13 pm UTC

Comment

kurtosis
Customer

Hi Bobbie7,

The Parkes report is again right on the button - many thanks. But again seems to be describing the original craft process and not the industrialised version used in Japan for making leather papers for export. All the same, very useful and many thanks. My searches for Rottman Strome draw a blank, but then my search skills leave something to be desired. I'll try Scriptor when it feels like the English language stuff is running out - I'm still going through it. Maybe I need a Japanese speaker, but I guess the site doesn't run to that (unless you know different...).

Best regards,

KO

 

Wed 19 Dec 2007 - 9:06 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Answer clarification

Bobbie Sevens
Researcher

Hello again Kurtosis,

I searched during most of the day today and unfortunately I have reached a dead end.

I do hope the information I was able to provide is useful.

Best regards,
Bobbie7

 

Wed 19 Dec 2007 - 9:34 pm UTC

Comment

kurtosis
Customer

Thanks Bobbie7, I think you've done fantastically well at pointing me towards the key stuff and cutting through the distractions of the terminology, the translations, and all the rest of it. I'm going to close the question now - you've certainly exceeded my expectations.

Best regards,

KO

 

Wed 19 Dec 2007 - 9:35 pm UTC

Accepted and rated

kurtosis
Customer

Thanks! (see feedback above)

 

Wed 19 Dec 2007 - 9:43 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Answer clarification

Bobbie Sevens
Researcher

I found one more tidbit of information that might be helpful.

From the Wallpaper Scholar:

"Leather papers became a mainstay of opulent late 19th and early 20th century decorating, and are often confused with Lincrusta and Anaglypta. One defining feature is that leather papers were purposely made to imitate embossed and gilded leather as much as possible, whereas the other types displayed a variety of finishes. Leather papers were often made up of a series of paper laminates which were forced into shape with a mold."

"By far the most famous company associated with leather papers was Rottman, Strome & Co.'s of England, who, beginning in 1883, arranged for 36" wide leather paper to be produced in Japanese factories for Western taste, and who shipped all over the world. The paper destined for Canada came in on the Canadian Pacific Railway."
http://www.wallpaperscholar.com/leather.html

There is a bit more information on how leather paper was made on   page 15 to 17  under  Embossed Papers
http://64.233.169.104/search?q=cache:hdw4ym1t77wJ:www.abp.unimelb.edu.au/staff/milesbl/australian%2520building/pdfs/11.02.pdf+Rottman,+Strome+%26+Co+OR+company+leather+paper+japan&hl=en&ct=clnk&cd=2&gl=cl


"Imitation leather papers (kinkarakawa-gami and gikkakushi) were developed and used for tobacco pouches and eventualy for wallpapers in the west. A mulitude of treatments and techniques for decorating the paper were developed alongside the textile crafts. Stencil, and resist-paste dyeing (katazome), woodblock printing(ukiyo-e and kyokarakami), embossing, hand-crushing (momi-gami), creping(chirimen-gami), various gold and silver leaf techniques, all were used to decorate sliding doors (fusuma), partitions (byobu) clothing etc."
http://www.fletcher-oriented.com/Pages/Navigation/Washi.html

 

Wed 19 Dec 2007 - 9:52 pm UTC

Uclue Researcher Answer clarification

Bobbie Sevens
Researcher

Dear Kurtosis,

Thank you for your kind words and five star rating. I'm glad you were pleased with my research.

Best wishes,
Bobbie7

 

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