Monday, April 28, 2014

Works on handmade paper from Awagami Factory

Extra large sheets of washi being made at Awagami Factory in Tokushima, Japan for Chuck Close prints at Magnolia Editions; photos by Craig Anczelowitz

Proof of a watercolor print by Chuck Close on custom-made Awagami handmade paper

Detail of proof by Chuck Close on Awagami handmade paper

Recently, Magnolia received a generous offer from the Awagami Factory in Tokushima, Japan. Magnolia has been printing on Awagami paper for many years; in 2014, on the occasion of the Southern Graphics Council's 42nd annual conference here in the Bay Area, Craig Anczelowitz and Aya Fujimori of Awagami reached out to our Oakland studio about providing paper for new projects to be shown during the conference.

The Awagami paper mill has a remarkable history spanning seven generations of traditional washi papermakers; they now produce a variety of exceptional handmade papers, including washi types that are specially formulated for inkjet printing.

The mill sent samples of dozens of different kinds of washi to Magnolia, where we distributed them to interested (and interesting) artists. William T. Wiley used his samples to create new year's cards; Hung Liu hand painted a small rat in sumi ink on each sample (these irresistible miniature paintings can currently be seen at Magnolia). After Liu and other artists such as Bob Nugent, Mary Hull Webster, and Mildred Howard each made their own selection of papers with richly varying degrees of texture, weight, and opacity, Awagami generously bundled and shipped the papers to us from Tokushima, and the artists immediately set to work printing, drawing, painting, and even sewing on the sheets of handmade washi.

The resulting works are as wonderfully eclectic as the Magnolia community itself, ranging from the solid, woody naturalism of Bob Nugent's prints mounted on panel to the intimate ink painting of Buddha's hand fruits by Hung Liu to the seductive surrealism of Mary Hull Webster's ghostly, colorful portrait prints.

A 2014 print on Awagami handmade paper by Mildred Howard, published by Magnolia Editions

Mildred Howard's series of Gold Dust prints on Awagami paper incorporate black-and-white portraits of the artist into the design of an early 20th-century box of washing powder; the appealingly tactile grayscale texture of Howard's braided dreadlocks and her Miles Davis-esque stance (facing away from the viewer) introduce new elements -- arresting, unexpected, and quietly subversive -- into the archaic Gold Dust packaging, into which the artist has also embedded subtle new details including Booker T. Washington half dollars and Sacajawea dollar coins.

We encourage interested parties to visit Magnolia where you can see these works, many of which are still on display here, and can also check out samples of Awagami paper for your own projects. And of course, make sure to keep in touch with Awagami Factory via their website.

Magnolia continues to partner with Awagami on upcoming projects: currently, Awagami Factory is creating custom washi for new watercolor prints by Chuck Close, as seen in the photos above. These works incorporate custom made paper and custom ICC color profiles developed specifically for the washi being used.

To Craig, Aya, and everyone at Awagami – we sincerely thank you for your generosity in sharing your seven generations' worth of papermaking brilliance with our studio!

More art by Mildred Howard from Magnolia Editions

More art by Hung Liu from Magnolia Editions

More art by Bob Nugent from Magnolia Editions

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