Japanese repair tissue is usually torn so that the edges are feathered, not cut sharp as they would be with a knife or scissors. The feathered edge allows the repair tissue to “blend” onto the text paper. Repair tissue can be torn with a water tear or needle tear. A needle tear gives a slightly less feathered edge than a water tear.

To water tear a piece of Japanese repair tissue, use a small, pointed natural bristle paint brush to draw a wet line or shape on the Japanese tissue. For a straight line, wet a piece of repair tissue against the edge of a ruler or straight edge. The water weakens the fibers of the tissue and allows it to tear along the wet line.

To needle tear a piece of Japanese repair tissue, use a needle-in-a-stick to score the surface of the Japanese tissue. The point of the needle creates a “dotted line” on the surface of the Japanese tissue to tear along.

Special Shapes

To tear a piece of Japanese tissue to a specific shape, such as to repair a missing corner or mend a hole in the middle of a page, tear the tissue as follows:

  • Lay a piece of black mat board or paper under the missing area to make the outline of the loss more visible.
  • Put a piece of polyester film over the loss to protect the page from the water and needle; then lay two layers of Japanese repair tissue over the film and water tear or needle tear the patches to fit the loss. One patch will go on each side of the loss.

If the damaged page is not attached to the text block, it is possible to use a light table or the light from a window to see the area that needs to be patched. Put the text page on a light table or window, cover and repair as outlined above.