Sheets of Kozu Shi Japanese tissue drying on the line after staining with coffee
Kozu Shi is the paper I use for all my larger drawings, plus quite a number of smaller works. It behaves more like a fabric than paper, lending itself to a variety of materials and techniques such as staining, washing and stitching. In spite of its low weight (I think about 90gsm) it is a very strong paper and can be ironed just like fabric during the work process or on completion.
Working with stains and washes does require a bit of care, however: cool water is better than warm, which I discovered during this process of staining with coffee today - I was too impatient and used quite hot coffee on a couple of these sheets, which literally turned the paper into soft, wet tissue. The wind got up, and the next thing I knew the clothes-pegs were still on the line, but each with only a tiny, individual scrap of damp tissue! The remaining sheets of paper were lying sans corners in the corner of the decking in crumpled heaps.
In this case such an accident didn't matter. The staining worked really well which was the main point; and as for tears, holes, or damaged corners, I usually like to incorporate those into the work as an 'event' which formed part of the work's creation. I stained up a few offcuts of Kozu Shi to match to repair corners where necessary, and got everything back on the clothes-line to dry.
After bringing the papers in for the night and airing them, my workspace smelled like a wonderful coffee shop (one good reason to choose coffee!) I will often use tea, ink or watercolour for staining, but on this occasion opted for coffee because of its slightly cooler colour, and the fact coffee forms sharper edges to the layers of wash. I collect leftovers from the bottom of my cafetière, plus on this occasion I added a whole fresh pot - hence the hot water. I would have to research the chemistry to understand why, but coffee seems to size the paper in a similar way to rabbit-skin glue, whether I use ground or instant from a jar.
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Heather Eliza Walker
Artist in Edinburgh, Scotland
My Illustration Work:
Binky McKee Website