Sunday, February 28, 2010

Inching forward

I'm slowly getting things done. Never as quickly as I'd like, but it's solid progress. I finished re-reading the bible of eastern papermaking, and felt relieved that it exists b/c it's so good and almost all of it can be applied to Korean papermaking. I loved this quote, b/c it's similar to what my teachers told me in Korea:
I am reminded of an important visit with one of my teachers in Japan. Together we were looking at a book the Japanese government had recently published to help preserve the craft of making his traditional paper. The amount of detail in the government report was astounding. Data on water quality, weather, soil conditions, equipment, tools, and papermaking procedures were all carefully presented. Not a stone seemed left unturned. I asked the artisan, "Kubota-san, aren't you concerned about this book? With it in hand, now anyone will know the details of your craft and be able to make your paper." He was quiet for a moment, then he looked me in the eye and said firmly, "You have to realize this book is almost useless." I was a little surprised. "Why do you say that?" I said. "They've covered everything...." "Barretto-san, you can show a photograph of a drying brush, and you can print a perfect drawing of it in a book like this, but you cannot describe the slightly changing position of a person's hand as he brushes a damp sheet on a board. That, and all the other unspoken things that are essential to making my paper, can only be passed directly from one person to another, as they work together. That is the only way the craft can be preserved. You cannot learn the essence of it from a book, and it is foolish to think you can."

--Tim Barrett, Japanese Papermaking: Traditions, Tools, and Techniques


  1. inching is definitely forward! like the barrett quote. time for me to re-visit.

  2. Me, too (inching forward, liking the quote, time to revisit). Somehow, it brought to mind a facebook status I saw a few days ago: "Someone needs to teach me to make a full leather binding, STAT." There are things you cannot learn from books, and things that you cannot learn STAT.

  3. so true. i remember my jiseung teacher saying that you can even show people how to cord and weave, and not worry about giving any "secrets" away, b/c it's the kind of thing that is simple, but only after crazy amounts of practice. he said that a secret is something you can show and tell with no fear of losing it.

    the quote is totally true! i especially relate to it after having watched a dozen people in korea dry paper and then try it myself. like everything that's worth learning, i wanted to run out of the mill screaming at first.


thanks for visiting!