Saturday, February 21, 2015

etegami from paper balloons

Kami-fuusen (paper balloons) were one of my favorite toys as a child. You could find them in the traditional pattern (see small photo below right) at the small, dusty, mom & pop shops where children bought pencils and notebooks and other school supplies on the way home from school.
traditional kami fuusen

Paper balloons are harder to find these days, but when you do find them, they come in a most remarkable variety of images and patterns, sometimes with extensions like wings and fins and much more astonishing features. But I was most thrilled to discover one shop from which I could order PLAIN WHITE paper balloons! They are perfect as a canvas for a spherical form of etegami.

The balloons are made of waxy paper which repels any traditional etegami paints, so I decorate them with bits of chiyogami (patterned washi paper), and I use a black permanent marker to write the message. The kami fuusen are folded up in the package when I buy them, so I open them up partway to create flat surfaces to decorate. The balloons have a blowhole at one end, so you can either press your lips to it or stick a drinking straw through it, then blow it up into a ball.

Originally designed as paper balls to pat back and forth between playmates, they are also fun to use in decorating the house. But I will fold these back up and put them in envelopes to send to mailart friends across the sea. Someone more clever than I am could probably make these from scratch, with paper better suited to being painted on.


  1. I love these! They bring back fond memories for me. I have never seen plain colored kami fuusen. Love what you did with them! Lovely to behold!

  2. I never heard of paper balloons before ! Great that you found them plain white; so you can make personal balloons ! Maybe you'll find a way to paint on them; but they are already great-looking now.

  3. I've never heard of these either... So neat!! It's fun to find something again that we have enjoyed as children.

  4. You have such clever ways to use Etegamies.