I had some folks from Southern Oregon contact me. They had a 4 panel, folding Shoji they brought back from Japan. This was interesting in it’s self as they don’t make a lot of folding screen in Japan. We had to coordinate the shoji delivery as they were passing through Portland from Ashland (Southern Oregon) and had a small window to stop by the shop with the shoji.
I assume this was a “made for export” item. it was well made and appeared to be of Hinoki or Sugi Japanese wood.
I removed the old paper and replaced with a Kozo (Japanese Mulberry) type paper. Tough and a little thicker than the thin paper usually used. Real Shoji-paper is usually about like a rolling-paper thickness. It is NOT made of rice as most people think.
You need to use the correct glue on Shoji as it needs to be easily removed.
You don’t want to sand the kumiko, just use warm water, a plant sprayer and don’t soak the wood,as it may stain the wood. Cedar will release tannins into water (or even the glue) and it makes a light brown stain. If the paper doesn’t want to come off easily, soak some rags. I would tear off strips approx. 1-1/2″ to 2″ wide, wet them, and leave them as long (length-wise) as you can. Damp but not real wet, and folded, you can lay them onto the glue side of the Kumiko and allow to absorb some of the moisture. This should make it come right off. Use a small scraper and carefully remove all the glue you can. Wipe down the wood before it absorbs on the sides and face of the Kumiko.
You can make your own riceglue by boiling up some sticky rice. keep adding water as it cooks out, then run through a blender or even a Nutri-Bullit. I buy a glue strainer from an Art store but you can find them at paint stores too, they’re much bigger though. Anyway, strain it through the netting and put it into a glue type bottle. I buy bottles from the dollar store. They are made for hair products, ketchup, paint etc.
Needs about a 1/16″ hole, maybe slightly bigger. 1/8″ hole is as big as I would go. Glue needs to be runny enough to flow and gooey enough to stay in a line when you squeeze it out.
Before you do your shoji, better practice on some wood and practice laying the paper on. The glue will spread once the paper hit’s it. We use rice-glue as it shouldn’t leave a stain once it’s dry.
So, lay the shoji on a bench or some sawhorses at waist height for ease. cut your paper to fit the door. If you’re having to use regular shoji paper in the 11″ rolls then figure out where the roll will cross a kumiko strip and trim it so the paper stops in the middle of the kumiko. I use a sharp saw blade in my table saw and cut the whole roll. In the case of these shoji in the pix, I cut off a 37″ roll to 18-1/4″.
Lay the paper in the shoji to make sure it fits. allow cutting off an extra 1/8″. In my case, the shoji kumiko was 18-3/8″ wide.
Having extra space makes it lay down nicely. If it is tight or pinches, it will hang up and cause the paper to bunch up.
Lay a bead of glue on ALL kumiko and carefully lay the paper into the shoji and roll it out. If it messes up bad, just cut it off and wipe down all the kumiko and start over. If you have 3 shoji to do, I’ll bet the first one is funky and by the 3rd one you will be an expert.
I cut off the paper with a razor knife and then trim it off so it lays in there nicely.
Allow to dry completely. Trim any excess paper and lay on the bench again face down. When completely dry, lightly spray the paper with a plant type sprayer. I use one from Home depot and it has an adjustable nozzle. You want a fine spray over most of the paper but don’t soak it. if it starts getting real wet…STOP! Allow to dry and start over. Too much water will cause the glue to loosen (like when you removed the paper). You can set the shoji in the sun to dry (watch out the wind doesn’t blow them over) or use a hairdryer or heat gun. You could put the shoji in a unused room and turn the heat up all the way, also.
That’s about it. If there are wrinkles. them spray that area again and use a hairdryer. You may have to do this several times to get ALL the wrinkles out. A few small wrinkles won’t be a be deal.