07 Dec

Earth-toned handmade paper using green tea and kratom powder

The art of papermaking goes back nearly as far as recorded history to  the Chinese and Egyptians. There are nearly as many traditions of papercrafting as there are cultures but one of the most popular styles to this day is the delicate rice paper  of the Japanese call “washi.”  Washi paper is, to this day, considered one of the finest and most durable of all handcrafted papers.

a zen-like process

On Teramachi street, among the various antique shops and tea houses you’ll find stores selling some of the finest washi in all the world including the shop owned by Kamji Kakimoto, proprietor of the oldest Washi shop in Japan. Kakimoto is a fifth generation owner of the familial business that began as bamboo dealers in the Edo period (1600 – 1868). In 1845 (just before what’s known as Japan’s “modern period” began) the shop began to deal in washi.

Kyoto is also famous for it’s green tea which, as we’ll learn today, can be used alongside kratom leaf powder in papermaking to result in a rustic, earthy brownish-green hue in the finished product.
Papermaking isn’t even as difficult as you might think and to get started you can either make your own mould and deckle using picture frames and window screen or pick up something like the handcrafted pine mould and deckle kits from http://www.woodendeckle.com (who we also owe inspiration for the green tea recipe!).

You can begin with recycled paper torn into 1 to 2 inch squares. Once you have about 4 cups of paper strips collected soak them in warm water from a half hour to a few hours (the heavier stock of recycled paper you’re using the longer you have to soak them). Add the paperstock to blender 3/4 full  of water. Blend the paper squares until the paper is liquefied and separated into it’s strands. This is your “pulp” product.

At this point you can add your pulp to a stainless steel bowl and add your green tea powder or tea bags and your kratom leaf powder. Add some hot water and let steep for several hours. Drain in a colander and add the pulp to your basin of water you’ll “pull paper” from.

A small tub or basin needs to be filled halway with water. Add two cups of your green tea and kratom steeped pulp. Now you’ve got what’s called “slurry.” The pulp-to-water ratio will determine the thickness and sturdiness of your finished product (more pulp, less water, thicker paper).

The deckle is placed on top of the screen side of the mould. With a gentle rocking motion  you capture slurry in the frame. Blot your paper with a sponge or blotter paper and lift the mould separating your paper sheet on couching sheet so it can dry. Once the paper has dried it should be tinted with green and brown flecks by the inclusion of the green tea and kratom powders and may even have a slight earthy, green tea and kratom scent to it.

For those interested in following through on this recipe who would like to attempt the process before investing money in a professional grade mould and deckle like the ones at WoodenDeckle we’ll be posting a tutorial on how to build your own mould and deckle from picture frames for “Tips and Tutorials Tuesday.”