Kozo is a versatile material
Since many of my installations require large elements to fill large spaces, I often turn to kozo (mulberry) fibers. They are a versatile media, are light-weight, translucent, and their organic beauty a sharp contrast to most exhibit spaces.
I import the stiff fibers, which are found between the bark and the wood of the mulberry tree, from Japan, where the trees are farmed: There their leaves are used to feed silk worms, the wood to burn the fires to cook the kozo fibers, and the ash from the fires added to the cooking pot to aid in breaking down the fibers.
At my studio on Tomales Bay, the fibers are soaked, then simmered for hours, using natural gas. After cooking, the fibers are hand beaten with oak paddles to further break down the length of the strips. From there the fibers are put in solution so they can be used to form almost anything from tough, bark-like objects, or extremely translucent sheets of paper in virtually any size.
Once formed the sheets must dry slowly before they are lifted off their couching sheets.