Thursday, February 19, 2015

Japanese Inspired Blinds - a DIY experiment

Magical texture and colour of handmade paper illuminated by sunlight
There has been some fervent creative experimentation with 
2 projects in the making
this past weekend at 
Maison Majorelle.  

The summer sun can be very, very hot and unforgiving here 
in the southern hemisphere 
and the glare makes it really uncomfortable in my studio in the mornings right now.  But when autumn comes, the sun moves and the light and the 
view is glorious throughout winter because we have very 
few rainy days then.  

So I was looking for a solution to cover my studio windows.  Something that would be lightweight, translucent and budget friendly because it would be temporary.  And then the idea of a traditional Japanese paper screen came up.  It might be quite unconventional here in the West, but they've been utilising paper beautifully for centuries, so why not?  This led me to think of the possibility of paper blinds that could be rolled up in the afternoons during summer, and removed entirely during winter without having to cover up or remove any holes or brackets. 


There is a shop in our area that sells a huge variety of the most exquisite handmade papers - see their website here.  Their papers are imported from Thailand, India and China, with recycled mulberry paper products being manufactured on the premises. So I picked up a variety of colours and textures for the project.  I also included a beautiful sheet of Egyptian Art on Papyrus from Cairo that I received as a gift from my brother and cute cotton candy paper that I brought back from Malaysia last year.  

Pasting the paper together so that one large sheet of paper "fabric" is created.



Love the result!  They're light, translucent, 
full of happy colour and texture and easily removable.
Best of all: When the blinds have served their purpose, 
I will recycle them into paper for bookmaking and collage papers for visual journaling.


I'll tell you more about the other project in another post!

Here's a tutorial on how the blinds were made:

1. After taking the measurements of the windows, I made a large sheet of paper "fabric" - larger than the surface of the 3 windows together by laying the sheets down on the floor and gluing the sides together with pva glue.
2. Once the glue was dry, I cut strips from all 4 sides of the paper "fabric" and glued them down again on the opposite sides.  This is optional! I did it because I wanted a more distinct patchwork effect.
3. I measured and cut 3 blinds from the "fabric" - adding extra length to allow for wrapping around wooden slats at the tops and bottoms of the blinds.
4. I measured and cut 3 x 2,5mm balsa wood slats for the top ends of the blinds, and 3 x 8mm dowel sticks for the bottoms. Then I glued them to the screens so that the "fabric" overlapped the wooden inserts on both sides - also adjusting the overlaps so that the screens would fit the length of window.
5. I  used brass thumb tacks to fasten the screens to the wooden window frame.  I also added cotton string to the tacks in the middle. This is to keep the blind in place, once it is rolled away.

Notes on improving the design - as the blinds are still a work in progress:
- for waterproofing in case of rain - a layer of clear lacquer spray or something similar, followed by a couple of layers of gel medium or mod podge;
- for tearing in case of wind - 3 cm wide washi tape in a complementary colour or design to strengthen the sides of the blinds.

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