Biden takes pride in organic and beautiful washi designs. The number of techniques is limited, but the variation and combinations are abundant. One of the most popular techniques is called ‘rakusui’ which literally means dropping water. It sounds simple, right? However, it requires skill to control the strength of water not to make holes right through, unless it is intentional. Droplets can be small or large, even or at random. Craftsmen and women use a tool which is similar to a shower head or tube. However, they make their own depending on their designs. One very talented craftsman, called Mr Taki, recently made a fantastic bespoke paper for one of Biden’s projects in a Belgravia penthouse. This required thousands of small droplets on wafer thin paper. It was amazing. It was applied on a painted wall by one of the most skilled wallpaper hangers in London. I was so worried that he was going to cut it with a scalpel as one does with normal wallpaper. It would not work at all and ruin it due to the strong fibres. When he assured me that the paper was to be trimmed using an edge of glass board, I was relieved and trusted him. The paint colour underneath gently came through to add depth on the soft texture.
Another technique is to add fibres such as hemp or Kozo plant before it is chopped up for washi making. Small chopped fibres can be mixed into the liquid, or large ones can be placed onto base paper. Mr Osada created some of our best sellers: Wave and Random Lattice. He painstakingly places each fibre by hand. We often receive specifications for Wave to look like continuous waves on walls or in glass panels. He carefully places wiggly fibres while he somehow makes them all look like dynamic waves.
Washi paper can be coloured, which massively expands designs and design opportunities. Combination of ‘rakusui’ (water droplets) and blue can make washi look like the night sky or seascape especially when it is back-lit. I also like the Kakishibu paint which makes paper resemble tanned leather. It is a traditional paint made from sharon fruits. The juice is fermented for one to three years; this natural paint has recently been drawing attention again as an ecologically friendly anti-bacterial product.