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Origami full of life
Appendix: Technical Description - Advice to the Readers
1- Paper Preparation (translation)

Page 188

Cutting papers

In the modern world where numerous square papers are on market, there are fewer opportunities for one to cut the paper for use. But for some pieces of work, such as those that has been in planning for years, there are times when you want to use a specially selected piece of paper.

When you buy and keep papers in stock, the time always comes when you want to use that piece of paper for a particular piece of work. When you prepare yourself physically and mentally and you fold an important piece of work using the selected paper, it is a very joyous moment.

Traditionally in Japan, you use the traditional cutting knife to cut paper. You place appropriately moistened paper on the ginkgo tree cutting board, place the ruler made from magnolia tree, and by holding the handle of the knife lightly and pulling it smoothly, you can cut the paper without making any mark on the cutting board, depending on your level of expertise. The paper cut in this way with the cutting knife has the best edge.

You hold the handle this way so that the wrist moves freely and lets the knife's contact with the paper vary. You adjust the pressure by listening to the sound of paper being cut. By doing so, you get the knife and the cutting board to do the cutting for you.

However, although the knowledge of the traditional cutting knife is something you should know as traditional Japanese culture, in reality, the use of ordinary cutting knife is sufficient. Although it is true that premium papers with which you would bother about the quality of edge are becoming less available, it is also true that the quality of generally available cutting knives is improving. So please look at the picture as a reference. Recently, I too have started using ordinary cutting knife unless I am working on a special piece of work.

(Caption) Traditional cutting knife

(Caption) Do not grip the handle of the cutting knife, but let the base of the handle rest between the thumb and the index finger so that it can move freely and pull it using the feel of the hand.

Pressing the edge

Before you fold the paper you cut, you press the edges. This is to bevel the edge, which is something that nobody else mentions, but it is an extremely important process. By pressing the edge, you can make the edge rounded like the folded edge. You cannot produce a good piece of work if you leave raw cut edges. You should be especially meticulous for works that expose many raw edges on the outside.

You press the back side of the edge first, then the front side, using your fingernail. There are times when a bamboo or Japanese cypress spatula is used, but the fingernail is most sensitive and best suited for this.

You should understand that the purpose of this process is not just to round the edge, but rather to give the paper a special role by transforming it to be used for a particular piece of work.

(Caption) [Pressing the edge] Press the edge with fingernail, backside first. The texture of the edge is completely different before and after the pressing.

Translation by Robert Tsuchida; many thanks to Joel Stern for providing it.

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