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Selecting Japanese paper for Encaustic Monoprinting by Nancy Jacobi of the Japanese Paper Place

Selecting Japanese paper for Encaustic Monoprinting

Washi is the Japanese word for the traditional papers made from the long inner fibres of three plants, wa meaning Japanese and shi meaning paper. The term “rice paper” is really a misnomer, the paper has nothing to do with rice.

The range of Japanese papers that The Japanese Paper Place ships around the world is vast. With so many Japanese papers to choose from, how do you to decide what’s best for encaustic monotype printmaking?  

What to look for when selecting Washi for Encaustic Monotype printmaking

What you will look for in a Japanese paper depends on the end result you are wanting to achieve.

When printing on paper with encaustic the paper you choose plays an important role in the overall effect of the print. You’ll rarely want to completely cover washi with wax,  in order to create a dialogue with the paper, letting its beauty, subtle texture, or colour play a role.

Semi-Absorbent Papers

If you want the wax to be well absorbed into the paper to give rich colour but still with clearly defined outlines, choose a semi-absorbent smooth paper.

Washi Suggestions:

  • Ogawa kozo mix,  
  • kitakata classic,
  • sekishu tsuru (kozo)
  • kozuke – a machine-made sized paper in white or ivory, in 2 weights

Coloured or Textured Papers

To emphasize mood (e.g. sunny) or theme (e.g. nature) or tone (e.g. warm), you can choose from a wide variety of coloured and lightly textured papers.

Washi Suggestions:

  • tatami (in natural, light yellow, blue, green),
  • Moriki kozo,
  • kawairi chiri (chiri refers to papers with bits of dark bark floating in them),
  • gampi smooth (very light chiri fleks and warm tone)

Thin Translucent Papers

For a lovely feeling of lightness in the print, select very thin translucent kozo papers, especially handmade ones less than 25g which will have the greatest strength and a subtle beautiful surface. They will also absorb the colour more intensely.

Handmade Washi Suggestions:

  • Tosa usushi,
  • Oguni snowbleached 18g, 
  • Yame kozo hadaura,
  • Fukunishi kozo 25g

Budget paper choices


  • usu kuchi light or heavy,
  • Gettoh text,
  • papers for sumi-e and shodo brush painting,
  • kozuke white or ivory in 2 weights

Two sides to Japanese Paper

It bears noting that there are two sides to Japanese paper – one a little rough as the side that is brushed onto the dryer, and a smoother side which has been dried on a flat surface. Most artists would choose the smooth side for a clearer result in printing but the choice is up to the individual.

Working on both sides of a Print

Additional surface embellishment and spot printing may be added working on both sides of the paper.

Buying Japanese Paper

You’ll want to experiment with a variety of papers to find your favourites for encaustic monoprinting.

At The Japanese Paper Place we partner with resellers across the globe to make fine Japanese papers available locally throughout the world. We encourage you to contact a local reseller for your Japanese paper needs. Resellers are listed on our website https://www.japanesepaperplace.com/.

In the US you can order any quantity of our papers online through washiarts.com

About Nancy Jacobi

Nancy Jacobi is president of The Japanese Paper Place in Toronto, a company she founded in 1980, after living n Japan, to encourage creativity through the use of versatile and varied Japanese paper. Her belief in the importance of washi as one of the world’s great art materials remains undiminished. The range of Japanese papers that her company ships around the world is vast. In the US you can order any quantity of their papers through washiarts.com. She is also writing a book on the artistic use of washi since Rembrandt.

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5 thoughts on “Selecting Japanese paper for Encaustic Monoprinting”

  1. Thank you! This really does clarify things for me and I am out to try a few pieces of paper in my encaustic painting. I have searched through your links and gained so much knowledge.

  2. Is it possible to find KOZO Chiri “rice” or similar paper in a 45″ (or close) width in a roll? We need two pieces 45″ x 60″.


    1. Thanks Brenda! It is all about respecting the Japanese paper when you choose it and not burying the surface. In many cases it has been made by skilled craftspeople in a culture where everything matters.

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