Washi Paper Anonymous

Collage duck ballet. Paper theater

I have a problem with washi paper and I could blame my aunt for it. She gave me my first origami book when I was 7, I still keep it as a childhood treasure. In no time, I filled my room with paper animals. I used them as decorations everywhere: glued inside my diaries, as bookmarks, all over the shelves and on my bed’s headboard. My mom complained a little,  but when we visited my grandparents and stepped into my auntie’s bedroom, we found a huge origami dinosaur made with newspapers and mom understood that my small zoo was acceptable after all. I rarely make origami now, sometimes I still like to add a paper crane to my presents, but I forgot how to make them without looking at the chart. However, I cannot resist the charm of washi paper and I buy more than I can use. Last week I counted over 100 different squares in my collection!

Origami book

Washi Paper

Compared to the origami paper you find in stores, washi is thicker, slightly scented and the designs are printed on the surface almost like screen-prints. The golden accents are in relief and the white reverse side feels a bit like cloth to the touch. So when my friend Alessandra shared photos of the Duck Fashion Parade on Facebook, my brain went straight from the dresses, to the paper and to a whole new collage obsession!
If you're curious about the inspiration behind these new experiments, you can read more about it at this link. The parade is held every year in Sidney during Easter.

Collage Duck children's illustration
Lady Duck was my first attempt and it became immediately clear that on the dress I couldn't just use patterns. Two together look lovely, but too many will make the shapes difficult to read. Therefore I added solid colors with mulberry paper, which is very soft and drapes well, but it's also delicate and rips easily with glue. If the color is too dark, the folds will be hard to see in photo, but work out very well with the scanner.  Unfortunately, I lost the gold and the beautiful, sparky accents in the digital process.
I had better luck with my second attempt, the Duck Pond ballet, inspired by the antique paper theaters that I love so much. Here the gold is still visible, albeit muted compared to the original that you can see in the first photo of this post. 

Collage Duck children's illustration theater

I try to keep my illustrations as they are, but with traditional drawings a little bit of editing is necessary. Some colors work well with the scanners while others don’t. The hardest for me is yellow because it always turns out with a percentage of blue that I don’t want. There are different ways to improve the images with Photoshop and probably the best and more professional is using curves, though it takes more time and skills than I have. If you convert the image from RGB to CMYK, you will have a Cyan channel to play with and it’s the one that will alter the yellows the most (black does too, but I don’t mind.) Here you can see the difference in hues after I’ve deleted or altered part of the blues in the image.

I’m very happy with my second attempt and I’m starting to see some potential in this little duckling, that I have named Giuliva. In italian "oca giuliva" (giuliva goose) is usually referred to someone a bit dumb, superficial, who speaks without thinking. My Giuliva is clumsy, forgetful or too distracted to do things properly, but not stupid at all. She loves ballet, but has also a passion for dinosaurs and rock 'n roll. We'll get there with collage n° 3 because I’m not done with her just yet!


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