Gampi: Provenance Matters

Gampi: Provenance Matters

2023 Oct 11th

We are excited to have new gampi-fibre papers available for you. Gampi fibre grows in the wild. In all the centuries of papermaking, it has not been cultivated successfully. Preferring to grow at higher altitudes, gampi is particularly strenuous to harvest, requiring a trip up the mountainside before one can even start. The willing workforce needed to take on this labour-intensive task is diminishing and the gampi itself has been suffering under the effects of the climate crisis. As a result, fibre scarcity has forced the increase in the price of Japanese gampi-fibre papers over the past years.

Japanese Gampi Fibre on the right / Image by 漱石の猫

Washi made with Japanese gampi is among the finest available papers. It has a very smooth, almost satin-like surface, with a subtle sheen, and an inherent sized-like quality. These features combine to make a washi with a delicate surface capable of holding even the finest detail in printmaking, especially engraving and etching. Light weight gampi papers are especially sought after for use in chine collé, consider Inshu Gampi 001 HM, for example.

Inshu Gampi 001

Papermakers, wanting to meet the demand for gampi-fibre paper have sought elsewhere for more plentiful and affordable sources. One such source is China. Gampi grown in China is very similar to that grown in Japan, but China’s size and the greater available workforce means the fibre can be procured more easily by the papermakers. Such is the case with our new Gampi Itaboshi washi.

From top: Gampi Itaboshi 28g35g42.5g

Another option for more affordable gampi washi is the use of salago, also known as Philippine gampi. Salago can be propagated by seed and grows at a lower altitude making it much easier to grow and harvest. The inner fibre of the stalk shares many characteristics with true gampi and is used to make a smooth, strong paper with a subtle sheen, like Gampi Smooth.

Gampi Smooth

The Japanese Paper Place offers a full range of gampi-fibre papers, including Heritage Washi.

Ask your representative, or search “gampi” on our web site.