Saturday, February 19, 2011

Student Response Regarding the Scrollmaking Class

If you would like to schedule a class or order my book contact to or go to
To Mr.
Jonathan Maples
St. George/Utah                                                                                   February, 19th, 2011

Scroll making class February 7-9, 2011

Dear Jonathan,

Thank you very much for the wonderful chance of studying with you the making of a wall scroll. Indeed it was a tough time for me – measuring over and over again, cutting the pieces and gluing them together – all this to be done kneeling on the floor!
I especially appreciated your calm and relaxed attitude and your deep and profound knowledge of this Japanese craft. It is of high value if one is quite familiar with all the Japanese names as described in your book: "How to Make Handmade Wall Scrolls”, because I noticed that I started to get puzzled with all the new expressions from day two on.
The work of these 2 ½ days was a highly concentrative task. As it follows the rhythm learning by watching and then doing by oneself, one surely has some time to relax from work, but as you already mentioned in your blog, one or two coffee breaks would have been lovely for me.
I appreciated your helping hand anytime I wasn’t skilled enough to handle it alone. Especially the very last step of bringing the final layer of urauchi onto the almost finished scroll is very crucial. Then it will be obvious how carefully one has worked because all the little creases will show after drying it. So this was the part where I was very grateful for your experienced and profound support.
With your introduction, assistance and support I am highly satisfied with the wonderful scroll I could take home to Germany. It will get a special place in our Zendo where we perform our Buddhist meditation. The Kanji on it is MU, which means Nothing, Emptiness or Boundlessness. Right now I was asked to embellish our Ikebana exhibition with it by hanging it there.
Besides I am very grateful that I could take home the scroll you were demonstrating the whole procedure as well. It will hang in the corridor of our house. The Kanji on it are from the Enmei Jukku Kannon Gyo (Ten verse sutra of prolonging life) and mean: eternal, joyful, intimate and pure.
In future I hopefully will be able to recall all these little steps of building such a scroll and am happy that you offered your assistance for arising questions.
I am also very pleased with this traditional and wonderful silk and brocade cloth that you provided me with. 

I hope that many people will find the way to your lessons and be able to learn these special skills from you.

Yours sincerely

Regina Oberndorfer

If you would like to order a custom scroll there are three ways to get started: 1. Go to my shopping site at 2. Download my scroll design workbook from my website at to read about the concepts behind kakejiku or wallscroll design. 3. E-mail to me directly at 

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Aikidou Scroll in Sandan Hyougu (3 Step) Style

This scroll was ordered from an Aikidouka (practitioner of Aikidou) in the Midwest. If you would like to order a custom designed scroll e-mail me at or go to Initially he called me on the phone and we had a lengthy discussion. I asked questions of what the décor in the room would be and colors of the wall so that we could design a scroll that would work in the room it was to be hung. When he said he wanted something in shades of brown, I thought that this large karakusa silk would be a good match for what he wanted. The next day I sent him the some pictures of recently purchased silks from a supplier in Japan, but I recommended this specific cloth along with the Antique cloth for the Ten and Chi. In my mind I had the idea of the concept of Lighter (Shihon or paper artwork), Darker (Gold Ichimonji), Darkest (Brown Karakusa silk), back to Darker (Antique cloth), and finally back to lightest (ash wood colored Jikusaki, and a white with Blue fleck design Kake/Makihimo). We actually did not decide on the Jikusaki and Kakehimo until after the original design, but when I explained this pattern I think he saw the vision of what I envisioned for the scroll.
The customer wished to have the writing in the Kaisho style, but to meet the size requirement to attach the Ichimonji, I needed to cut the paper much smaller. I am very grateful to my wife for being such an experienced and skilled calligrapher to be able to write everything very balanced and always meet the customer needs.
Dimensions of the scroll given in the traditional Bun measurement, with approximations in centimeters and inches.

Kanji English Size in Bun CM Inches
天 Ten 115 348.5 13.72
上中廻し Ue Chuumawashi 52 157.5 6.2
上一文字 Ue Ichimonji 7.5 22.7 0.9
紙本の幅さ Artwork Width 56 169.7 6.7
紙本の長さ Artwork Length 87 263.6 10.4
柱 Pillars 12 36.4 1.4
下一文字 Shita Ichimonji 3.5 10.6 0.4
下中廻し Shita Chuumawashi 26 78.8 3.1
地 Chi 70 212.1 8.4
掛け軸の幅さ Scroll Width 80 242.4 9.5
掛け軸の長さ Scroll Length 353.5 1071.1 42.2

Friday, February 11, 2011

Scroll Made for Scroll Making Class Demonstration

This scroll was written by the student, Regina Oberndorfer, who runs a Buddhist Zazen Center in Frankfurt, Germany. It is a Buddhist phrase which reads JO RAKU GA JO, from the Enmei Jukku Kannon. The meanings of the Kanji are eternal, joyful, intimate and pure.

If you would like to learn how to make your own wallscroll or Kakejiku in a traditional handmade style, please contact to me at

My teaching style is to first demonstrate and then let the student perform the action. So this scroll is the one used to first demonstrate the step to the student. At first the student requested to make a Sandan Hyougu scroll, but I did not recommend this because there are extra steps required to finish the scroll. The Maru Hyougu scroll provides the basic steps to know how to begin to construct a scroll.

When designing this scroll we had to look at the color in the writing and find cloths that would complement the color. The silk that was selected is an olive green with a small karakusa pattern in it to be the chuumawashi. The bronze/copper color was chosen for the Ten & Chi. I truly believe that the selection of the jikusaki and kakehimo is critical to provide harmonious design in the scroll. The sparkly wood jikusaki called Nashi gives that extra match to the colors of the writing. The closeup also shows the floral arrangement. The flowers were purchased locally and the pecan branch was cut from my backyard.

Scroll dimensions as follows for bun
Ten:                         114
Ue Chuumawashi:      44
Ue Ichimonji:               5
Shihon Habasa:          73
Shihon Nagasa:        240
Hashira:                     18
Shita Ichimonji:            2.5
Shita Chuumawashi:   20
Chi:                           69
Kakejiku Habasa:    109
Kakejiku Nagasa:    489.5

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Student Learning to Make Japanese Wallscroll (Kakejiku)

This blog post is about a lesson of a student that came to learn how to make Wallscrolls or Kakejiku 掛け軸from me. It was a three day session from February 7th to February 9th. This student purchased my book How to Make Handmade Wallscrolls about 6 months ago. The reading was difficult as English was not her native tongue, and she felt it would be easier to learn it hands on than attempting to do it herself. If anyone would like to order the book go to You can also take a class directly at the Bonsai in the Bluegrass convention in Louisville Kentucky on June 16, 2011. If you have questions contact to

This student is a very talented calligrapher Shouka and not only studies with my wife, Ryugyoku, but also with several Japanese Buddhist Shoka as well. The first thing that she was not familiar with was removing the works after attaching the Urauchi (layer of paper attached to a cloth or a paper). The most time involved in the process was deciding the color of the kireji and kinran cloths.  I suspected before the class started that this would take about one and a half hours.

Monday afternoon was then spent doing the Hada Urauchi on the Cloths, Ichimonji and artworks. I was very satisfied with her attention to detail. We did have two problems with one of the works, but that was not one selected for the final scrolls. Other topics discussed were alternative methods of doing the Urauchi and the proper preparation of the glue for each step. Another point she was surprised with was the ease with which the specialty paper that is used only for Urauchi helps in doing these steps correctly and especially not getting Shiwa (wrinkles) in the artwork.

Tuesday was an all day event removing the cloths, Ichimonji and artworks and then reassembling into the scroll. This was the longest day, and if we had not gone at the pace I made us go at we easily could have gone to 8:00 P.M. However, we finished at 5:00. The only complaint was that there were no coffee breaks…I am a bit of a slave driver, but it show how much I love my profession of scrollmaking.

Wednesday we did not really get started until about 11:45 AM. But it still took us until 3:00 PM to get everything done. The pictures are a few steps on this last day.

Pictures of finished scrolls will be posted tomorrow.