Sunday, February 10, 2013

Momigami - 'kneaded paper'

I was given Cas Holmes' new book 'The Found Object in Textile Art' for Christmas and although it looked really good I have been putting off reading it properly until I knew I could spend some time trying things out. The first thing I wanted to try was momigami - the Japanese technique of paper kneading.

I had just finished a bag of bread flour so that became my first experiment. To get ready I cut the bag open, got a craft mat and a small finger bowl with a few drops of olive oil in.

The method is to fold the 4 corners of the paper in to the middle and then crumple the whole piece into a ball. I think you fold the corners in first to stop the edges ripping. Dip your finger tips into the oil and coat your hands with a thin film. Keep squashing it into a tighter ball until it won't go any further. Carefully flatten it out. Add a bit more oil to your hands and repeat.
When you are bored of that flatten it out on your mat and stretch it out to the corners. You start to see the oil penetrating the paper and bringing out the texture. You can add more oil to your hands and smooth over areas that need more oil.

Then grasp one end in each hand and rub the paper together against itself, as if you were doing hand washing and trying to get a stain out! Repeat this action all over the paper, particularly at the edges to soften them up.
Above is the inside of the flour bag, which looks amazing, and here is the outside.

Once I had tried this I wanted to see what happened with other types of paper.
I tried newspaper, tissue paper, a till receipt and an off-cut from a piece of line design work created on my City and Guilds course last year.

The till receipt was particularly effective as it looked very worn and distressed.

Finally, with my bigger theme of 'wasteland' in mind I scanned in this watercolour painting of a twig I had done as a teenager and printed it out on ordinary computer paper.

I then gave it the momigami treatment and it came out like this.

What I like about this is that the oil in the process has lifted some of the colour from the image and helped it settle into the creases on the paper to give it a suitably distressed and vintage look.

I wanted to use some of these pieces in a sample so taking inspiration from Cas' book I am working along the lines of the following collage.  You will see that it incorporates some of my other recent experiments (leaves printed on Bondaweb, stitched and distressed paper napkins, transferring scanned images to fabric using Bondaweb - all described on previous blogs). What I really like about her ideas it the incorporation of paper and fabric elements in the same piece and this book gives a simple method to assembling it all to allow stitch.

In my next blog I will show how this had progressed.


  1. I love the momigami technique and have made several sheets using various papers but so far have not found a use for them. I love your collage at the end of this post and the effect the technique had on your delightful watercolour.

    1. Thanks for your comment - if you like these type of collages then I highly recommend the book mentioned in the blog for more inspiration.

  2. Love what you have done with this technique Jess. I've just been on a Japanese book binding coure and the tutor mentioned Monigami so when I googled it I came upon your pleased I did as you seem to be into all the things I love! Just become a follower and looking forward to seeing your progress on the collage.

    Karen x