What Is Paper Weaving?

C. Mitchell

Paper weaving is a craft in which thin strips or sheets of paper are woven together to create textured, durable, and colorful new creations. Woven paper has many different uses. Some of the simplest paper weaving projects are designed for children and can be used in conjunction with lessons on patterns and colors. Many professional artists are also paper weavers. Woven paper has a special place in traditional Japanese and Korean cultural crafts, as well, and often serves as a canvas of sorts for original art.

Paper lanterns are often made with woven paper.
Paper lanterns are often made with woven paper.

The basic tenet behind paper weaving is the interlay of paper strips. Strips are woven, one over the other, into some new whole. The thicker the strips and the more durable the paper, the easier the weaving project.

Origami often integrates elements of paper weaving.
Origami often integrates elements of paper weaving.

Paper weaving is a popular school craft, particularly for young children. Weaving helps children develop dexterity and coordination and can also reinforce lessons on colors and patterns. It does not take a lot of talent to make a simple woven mat, and young artists of all skill levels can participate and quickly master the technique.

A gridded cutting mat makes it easy to cut uniform strips for paper weaving.
A gridded cutting mat makes it easy to cut uniform strips for paper weaving.

Not all paper weaving projects are so simple. More advanced crafters often make intricate murals and patterned designs by weaving narrow paper strips together. With a bit of planning, an artist can create a woven paper portrait by using strips of paper strategically colored and tinted such that a larger image appears once the strips are joined together.

Three-dimensional projects, such as woven paper baskets, bags, and decorations like ornaments are also possible. These crafts usually take a bit of skill, and often involve other media, as well. In order for paper products to be functional, they must often be treated or mounted on other substances.

The ancient Japanese art of origami often integrates elements of paper weaving. Origami is the practice of transforming squares of paper into three-dimensional works of art. Traditional origami paper is typically very lightweight, and weaving with it takes a great deal of care and precision. Many woven origami pieces are small and intricate, often composed by masters.

Paper weaving has an important place in traditional Korean crafts, as well. Hanji is a thick paper made from native Korean tree bark that is simultaneously durable and flexible. Artisans typically craft hanji into small dolls, paper boxes, and floating lanterns. This sort of paper lends itself well to a variety of weaving projects and embellishments. Most hanji dolls wear realistic woven jackets and pants made from the paper, for instance, and boxes often feature woven inlays and embellishments.

In more modern times, hanji has been used to weave various textiles, including dresses and other garments for people. These clothes are primarily created for novelty’s sake and are rarely work outside of cutting-edge runways and art exhibitions. Just the same, that they exist is a testament to the breadth of the paper weaving craft.

Paper weaving is a popular arts and crafts project for young children.
Paper weaving is a popular arts and crafts project for young children.

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Discussion Comments

Glasis

Some of these projects made out of paper are very creative. You can look up some various paper projects on-line, even some with video. If you have the time and patience you can try to make some of them.

I don't think I have the hands for some of these projects, but some people can do this stuff without any problems.

Some of the Asian artwork on some of these paper lanterns are absolutely beautiful as well. Just getting the paper where you want it to be is hard enough, but making these detailed water color pictures on them is awesome. I can't even draw a straight line.

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