Friday Poem
© 22 October 2021 Luther Tychonievich
Licensed under Creative Commons: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0
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Friday Poem

On the making of washi (和紙).


To fit meter and rhyme, I was a bit loose in how I described the process. You have to leave them in the streams for a while; I skipped the bleaching process; you need to use paper mulberries and sunset mallows, not other varieties; and getting the mallow goo involves a few extra soaking and filtering steps, not just beating. The “‍leave them alone‍” part is not the only drying option, and some other drying processes make stronger papers. I may be missing a few other steps; I've never performed this process, only read about it.

Additionally, while washi is used “‍for walls‍” (in particular, for shōji 障子), it is also used for purposes the rest of the world uses paper for, including writing on.

Untitled Poem

To make sheets of washi (that's paper for walls): First boil off some fibrous mulberry bark. Burn twigs to ashes, compress them in balls And boil to lye, which can make light from dark. Add in the bark then and boil till stringy; Scoop out the strands with a string-draining thingy; Submerge them in streams (which must be very cold or else its not washi you'll get, just some mold). Pick out impurities, then here's what you do: Beat them until they dissolve into mash; Also beat mallow roots, catching their goo; Then mix both with water to make runny hash. Pour out this mixture on big silken screens; Shaking to spread it is best done in teams. Leave them alone there until they are dry: Then you have paper, a strong single-ply.

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