Japanese Folder

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I have collected lots of paper scraps and ephemera from a recent trip to Japan, all with a particular project in mind. I want to make a folder to keep all my postcards and leaflets in from something called ‘fabric paper’. This is a technique from a super book I have, quite old now, called Mixed Media Explorations by Beryl Taylor. The fabric paper can be made into a durable surface, which can be stitched into and made into folders and book covers.

Firstly lay out a plastic tablecloth and on that place a piece of muslin, large enough to make the intended project. Dilute some PVA, roughly half and half, and paste onto the muslin torn scraps of your collected papers. I have tickets, paper bags, leaflets and wrappers. Leave some space between the scraps, don’t overlap.

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Next take some white tissue paper and tear that into small pieces, making a layer over the top of your original scraps. This time, overlap them and make sure you don’t leave any spaces. Sometimes you can be lucky enough to have some tissue with pictures or text printed on and that is good to use as it adds extra interest.

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At this wet stage I will add the colour, usually brusho or something similar. Adding the colour is rather messy and it’s hard not to dislodge the wet tissue. Patching with extra tissue pieces is easy in that it simply soaks up the glue and dye and repairs the gap.

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It now needs to dry thoroughly – I usually try to speed up this process by putting the piece on my heated clothes dryer or rayburn. When it is completely dry I give it an iron to smooth it out. The colours are usually lighter once the muslin is dry as can be seen by the picture below.

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It is possible to see the details of the tickets and leaflets underneath the layer of coloured tissue. It can be left as it is with maybe just some gentle addition of a gold or coloured wax to pick up the creases of the tissue. In this case I decided to add some more printing on top. I have a useful old plastic tablecloth and a commercial stencil of a stylised chrysanthemum that I wanted to use.

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I’ve used acrylic paints, perhaps too haphazardly, but it does add a few more colours to the fabric paper background.

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With the stencilling finished the next stage is to cover the whole piece of ‘fabric’ in acrylic wax. This makes it almost like soft leather and much more durable for a folder or book cover project.

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When dry, which doesn’t take long, I cut it to the size I needed for a simple folder with two inside pockets. I bonded a piece of orange lining fabric to the inside and then stitched it together with a twisted cord – basic, but designed to hold all the postcards, tickets and leaflets I collected all in one place.

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The last part isn’t quite finished as I may need to add a cord tie – I have some left over from the edging, and I could put the big embellishment on to the front but it may be a bit too gaudy! Just laid on the top for the picture below.

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