Konnyaku is a starch made from the root of the Konjac or VooDoo Lily plant. Who wouldn’t like to work with something named ‘VooDoo Lily’? I first learned this technique from Linda Marshall of Washi Arts in a fabulous online workshop.
One technique involves brushing the washi with prepared konnyaku, then repeatedly crumpling and kneading the washi to encourage the konnyaku to penetrate the fibres and strengthen the washi. The washi is allowed to dry and the process is repeated. The result is a beautifully supple clothlike washi with even wrinkles.
My pieces Waxing and Cumulo use konnyaku on Sekishu-banshi Tsuru heritage washi, a strong, fine, 25 gram washi with long fibres and beautiful subtle colour. The konnyaku treatment enabled me to pile the washi up high to accentuate the strength and translucency.
Lithoid uses a similar technique on a very different washi. Moriki Kozo is a medium washi at 45 grams, with added sizing and dye. This resulted in a very different expression – one of power and solidity. In addition, the backing sheet of Moriki Kozo was flat treated with konnyaku to give it added sheen and add a bit of stability to permit the washi to float off the wall.
Fly uses konnyaku differently. Using three of the finest heritage washi – Oguni Snowbleached 18 gram, Sekishu-banshi Tsuru and Tosa Usushi – the washi was first folded and then flat coated. The resultant expression demonstrates the translucency and fibre structure and highlights the subtle difference in these three gorgeous washi.
The elements of Concatenate were treated, kneaded and formed using Kurotani Chiri, both natural and white, to express an organic form.