Japanese “stab” bindings make

perfect portable journals, their

pages folded double so that ink or

paint will not bleed through.

This accordion book was created to hold images taken of a Danish newborn’s first visit across the sea to meet her relatives in the United States. It can be read privately as a personal album or spread out as a display so all the family can be seen at once.  On the cover is a trumpet-blowing angel hand cast in paper set on a piece of film negative.  I hoped the suminagashi background throughout would suggest the ocean that both separates and connects the child and her American family.

suminagashi works

Late in 2007, Hand Papermaking called for proposals for its

Portfolio Project partnering handmade paper with calligraphy.

I had experimented briefly with embedding suminagashi into

handmade paper some dozen years earlier with some success--

enough to think I might try adding hand lettering to it--

but had never found the block of time needed to realize it.

 The portfolio project provided both motive and opportunity.

Making the requisite 152 pieces, however, turned out to be even more of an undertaking than I’d anticipated.  Having neither papermaking set-up nor hydraulic press, I was forced to improvise everything, especially presses, out of anything in my studio of any weight not nailed down.  

And when my search for a haiku expressing what I wanted this “encounter” of natural materials to symbolize proved fruitless, I felt compelled to write my own.  Then, because each piece of suminagashi embedded into the paper fibers somewhat differently, it became clear

that I could not letter the pieces all the same way, so each ended up being lettered somewhat individually. Thankfully, I was able to come up with two basic layouts that, with a bit of shifting, seemed to fit

all the variations in the edition.


Suminagashi lanterns, made as part of a Japanese culture/creative writing (haiku) unit for 5th graders.  The symbolism of light as metaphor for insight and knowledge was not lost--nine lanterns were installed in the school library.


 ©ann alaia woods 2008  .