Bees, Bears, and Blossoms – Part 3

Katazome is traditionally done on fabric, but can also be done on paper with good results. The trick is choosing a paper (and pigments) that can be soaked in water for about 30 minutes.

I tried this new stencil as a single image (rather than repeat design) on handmade Japanese kozo (mulberry fiber) paper. Because the paper must be soaked to wash off the rice paste resist, it must be a paper that can withstand that. I had done a few experiments with katazome on kozo in the past, so knew that kozo would be a good choice. I haven’t yet tried watercolor paper, but that is also a possibility. In addition, the pigments used must be able to stand a soaking in a water bath. I mixed my pigments with soybean juice (just as with cloth), and once the work is dry, the colors are locked into the paper because the soybean juice acts as a “protein polymer” when dry. (This is how John Marshall describes it in his book, Salvation Through Soy.

Bees, Bears, and Blossoms – Part 1

Bears are related to seals, dogs, and raccoons. They are known to be protective mothers and have a keener sense of smell than sight.

This design was living in my imagination about 3 years before I began to work on it. I felt really stuck for a long time, just generally, which of course was reflected in my not doing much in the studio. About 9 months ago, I signed up for “Illustration Nation” at Sketchbook Skool, which offers terrific online courses for people who want to learn to sketch, or to begin sketching and drawing again. This is one of many courses they offer, all of them inspiring.

Because of the planning and design involved, creating a katazome stencil somewhat like illustration. I felt the workshop would help me bring this idea to life.

To become familiar with my subject, I began sketching bears from photos.

 various sketches of bears
various sketches of bears

Fun fact: according the Wikipedia, bears are in the family Ursidae (think Big Dipper—Ursa Major). They are “doglike” carnivores, and their closest living relatives are the pinnipeds (such as seals), canids (dog is one example), and musteloids (such as raccoons and weasels).

The next step was to try a few variations for the composition.