Joss Paper Print

A friend gave me a fat package of Chinese  Joss paper for my birthday. I’m sure you’ve seen the paper before – it’s very popular with collage artists. This scan doesn’t show the wonderful shine of the gold in the center.

Joss paper

You know my first thought: oooh, what am I gonna print onto that!? In printing on any new surface there are a few things to figure out. First, is this stiff enough to go through my printer without a backing? If not, I’d tape it onto a sheet of typing paper. Second, will the quality of the print be good enough? If not, I’d treat the surface with an inkjet coating like inkAID or Golden Paint’s Digital Ground.

I always try the quickest and easiest way first, which is to send it through the printer without coating it, and without a backing sheet. Then the fun part, figuring out what kind of image will work on the surface. I chose this new photo-painting I did of a stunning ladyslipper orchid that George grew for me.

Ladyslipper orchidI slid the paper into the printer and crossed my fingers that it would be sturdy enough not to crumple up. Phew — it went through with no problem at all!

Joss paper ladyslipper orchid

I like the effect – the background really dropped out, leaving mostly just the flowers and the dark border. The quality of the print could be improved by coating it with inkAID or Digital Grounds, but I was surprised at how close the color is, and the fact that it’s not as sharp as the original doesn’t really matter for this image, I think. I shot a photo holding it sideways to catch more of the glimmer of the gold. The fact that the border of the image lined up almost exactly with the edge of the gold was a lucky accident. I estimated where to place it, but didn’t measure exactly – which I would do for a more planned-out piece.

Joss paper ladyslipper orchidThe package my friend gave me also has some sheets with silver in the middle, so I’ll try that next! What creative projects are you working on these days?

Orchid happiness


The Pacific Orchid Exposition in San Francisco (at Fort Mason this weekend) is the largest orchid show in the United States.  George and I have gone nearly every year since he started growing orchids. He also volunteers and, most years, he displays his orchids with one of the several local groups of which he is a member. This year he’s the president of the Diablo View Orchid Society (DVOS), so he’s showing at their display, which he and a few other people from the group put together.  Here he is in front of the booth.

George at the DVOS display at POE

Check out the glorious orchid at the right, it’s a Pleurothallis restrepioides ‘Dragonstone’ – one of George’s orchids that grows best outside, at least in our climate. It usually lives on our front porch – which is sadly empty while the orchid is at the show. In 2008 it won a “Best in show” and “Best in class”.  It has since been through a hail storm and snail attack, but this year it still won a second place ribbon.

There were so many amazing things to photograph, and almost as many photographers. It thinned out later in the day and I managed to get some photos that I liked. Composition can be difficult at these shows because a lot of the displays have the flowers jammed in. I look for a plain background. Here’s one:


I love ladyslipper orchids – they’re so ‘designerly’ with their lines and spots. This is one of my favorites.

Ladyslipper orchid

George loves to preach the gospel of orchids and and let people know how to take care of them. We met a couple who flew out from back East just to see the show. They used to live near the town in Massachusetts where George grew up!

George at DVOS display

This is another one of my favorite orchids of George’s, a Scaphosepalum antenniferum. I like it because it’s kind of strange. The photo is a closeup, it grows on a long stalk, and this part of the flower is less than 2 inches across. I wrote a blog post about it last August.


One of the best displays at the Show was of pleurothallid orchids. I loved this one, another closeup – the widest part of the flower is less than half an inch.

Pleurothallid orchid

Finally, another ladyslipper that George grew:

Ladyslipper orchid

The show is open today, Saturday February 25th, from 9 to 6, and tomorrow from 10 to 5. If you missed the show, or live far away, look for a local orchid group – they often have shows or meetings where you can learn about growing these amazing flowers.