Ikkanbari (literally, idly pasting) is the ancient Japanese art of recycling worn out baskets by wrapping them in washi (handmade paper), coating them in nori (rice glue) and sealing them with kakishibu (persimmon juice) for a waterproof finish. Original old baskets are hard to come by, as they were not preserved as precious art objects, but here is an antique example from Sri Gallery.

Artist Lisa George of PaperGlueBamboo (known permanently to all as George as the result of years of British boarding school)  has created a modern version of this venerable craft for the past 10 years. Using new bamboo baskets, hand-made unryushi (mulberry paper) and mingeishi (sugar paper) along with non-toxic glue and a low VOC varnish, she is custom making beautiful ikkanbari for modern interiors. Each season she creates a number of limited edition designs, hand tearing paper in shapes and motifs to decorate her pieces. Her inspiration is taken from Japanese textiles and items which she combines with a Western color palette. She is also inspired by the joy of the changing seasons, which is such an integral part of the Japanese outlook on life.

Items include kitchenwares such as bowls and platters, desk sets with trays, pencil holders and wastebins, small boxes and traditional shape baskets to hold everything from extra change on the nightable to rolled wash cloths in the bathroom. Items are finished in a clear varnish, giving them a durable finish. They may be cleaned with a hot damp cloth and then be left to air dry.

The photo gallery below has a wide range of designs from past seasons. The pictures don’t begin to show the handmade tactile quality of the pieces.

George is most famous for her shopping baskets, which take traditional Tsukiji fish market handled bamboo baskets and turn them into the chicest handbag, picnic basket, diaper bag, carry-on (they fit in the overhead compartment) or magazine rack around. After wrapping the exterior in traditional tenugui (cotton fabric), she hand paints a design on the outside.  Interiors are lined in paper, much like the ikkanbari pieces and decorated with hand-torn motifs and then sealed.

Unlike the brightly colored, more abstract patterns above, these shoppers have distinctly Japanese motifs and themes. Some are new designs this season.

In addition, George creates large-scale paper “paintings” on boards and canvas called chigiri-e.  Like ikkanbari, chigiri-e is an ancient Japanese art with the word chigiru meaning “tear” and e meaning “picture”. Traditional chigiri-e tends to be landscapes or still lifes, but George’s style is more whimsical and abstract. Technically, it is closer to collage or decoupage using hand colored papers that she has carefully torn into images and designs. She is always happy to discuss commissions.

So, the scoop on how to get some PaperGlueBamboo into your home?  George is currently living in Carmel, California, so US orders are easy. You can contact her via the PaperGlueBamboo Facebook page and you can find more information on her technique and materials as well as additional photos. She will also be posting the new Spring line there shortly. George will be back in Japan for a big show and sale in April and is currently taking pre-orders for delivery then. If you want to be on the invitation list for the sale (and have never received an invitation before) just drop me a note. Her Etsy shop is empty right now, but should be up and running soon (if we all keep poking her about it).

My new lilac ume (plum blossom) shopper (and a Christmas gift, I must disclose) is sitting under a table in New Jersey at the beach, just waiting to be filled with magazines…

All photos courtesy of Lisa George, except image 1 from Sri Gallery and the final image from me.