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Unryu

The paper title, Mulberry (Unryu) paper is used to define mulberry papers with the Japanese word unryu in parenthesis. The Japanese term for Mulberry (or Saa) which is a Thai word - is unryu. Much of the Japanese unryu paper found in Japan is actually mulberry paper imported from Thailand.

Unryu is part of a family of papers which are all made from mulberry. The different papers get their surname depending on the type of mulberry used; either kozo (broussonetia papyrifera, the paper mulberry), gampi (wikstroemia diplomorpha), or mitsumata (edgeworthia chrysantha). See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Paper_mulberry

It is the kozo (broussonetia papyrifera, the paper mulberry)that is used to produce the mulberry paper. Mulberry papers are semi-translucent, wonderfully light weight, cheerful in color, soft in texture, and have long kozo fibers visible when the paper is held up to the light. The handmade mulberry papers are usually much heavier in weight over 100gsm and thicker due to inclusions such as petals, leaves or bark which adds to the decorative finish as well as providing texture and density due to the drying and pressing process. The Unryu/mulberry paper that is sold by Kim's Crane is the commercial machine made mulberry paper which is light weight allowing for a dye color base that is much more cheerful and diverse. Interesting to note, mulberry paper cannot be destroyed by insects. The mulberry tree is a perennial plant that grows plentifully throughout Southeast Asia and is cut about every eight months to take the fiber, which is used for producing the mulberry paper. Although the mulberry tree is cut, it easily is regrown. The exact same raw materials (mulberry or saa) is used for the commercial machine made mulberry paper as for the thicker hand made made mulberry paper. The dye color is obtained by using natural vegetable dyes during the manufacturing process.

The machine made mulberry paper comes with two deckle longitudinal edges and is pH neutral. The paper can be easily torn or cut to meet a specific craft project. For origami, whole sheets are often used in tissue foil, a process where a light weight glue is used to adhere a sheet of the mulberry paper to each side of a piece of kitchen (baking) foil. For more information on how to make tissue foil please see You Tube videos. The Japanese word unryu is translated cloud dragon due to the thin kozo fibers or strands seen throughout the paper. Some of the papers have embedded metallic strands of either silver or gold or the top of the paper is brushed in gold or silver.

Due to the unique characteristics of this paper it is ideal for so many diverse paper craft projects; origami, tissue foil, rubber stamping, scrapbooking, card making, mixed media collage, painting and block painting, lamp shades, Japanese screens, sky lanterns, wedding invitations, fish rubbings, chine colle, chigir-ie, gift wrapping, and so much more.

This article has been authored by Kimberly Crane.  All rights reserved, please contact Kimberly Crane at kim@kimscrane.com for authorization to copy material in this article.