“Sown In Washi”
by Judith Rudoler
at the artist’s studio every
Sunday in November!
198 Walnut Avenue, Unit #9
(south of Queen Street at Trinity Bellwoods, behind The Paper Place)
Thursday, October 28th
Everything I do starts with paper. Currently, my work ends with stitched-paper collage. In between, however, are many hours of handling, preparing, and manipulating paper, my raw material. My work uses Washi, a handmade, pure fibre, Japanese paper, a traditional handicraft whose industry is slowly dying and methods are being lost.
My process begins with the finest kozo Washi. Each sheet is divided and then dyed according to my mood and the requirements for the desired final piece. Bowls of pigmented water prepared, I then work the dyes into paper creating layers of colour. Once dyed I use konnyaku, a starch derived from Devil’s Tongue Root, to further strengthen the paper and create texture. Best known in Japan as an edible product, konnyaku, is also traditionally used to make kamiko, paper clothing. The fragility of untreated washi contrasted with the strength of the treated product makes this part of the process most satisfying. Upon completion I am presented with a world of possibilities, dozens of differently textured and coloured sheets of paper hanging to dry in anticipation of the final piece.
Each piece itself is born of an idea, a photograph, or a drawing that I manipulate in Adobe Photoshop. For this series my subject is the urban garden. I transform the image into a map that will guide me to cut and then stitch each fragment of paper into a final piece. Individually altered papers cut and torn asunder, later to be reassembled results in a patchwork of colour and texture. For this I use my old Bernina sewing machine. The final piece is paper and thread. It is, however, much more. It is also a love of the colour palette, of light, and of texture. The process takes me from handmade paper, upon which a series of treatments have been applied by hand, into a digital environment and then out again. The final piece exhibits the aesthetics of both worlds: at once distinctly traditional and modern.