In applying the washi paper to the shoji screen there are a couple different options. One is the classic method, which is to use the traditional sized roll (9 3/4″ x 11″), necessitating that you cut several strips that would then overlap in order to cover a 24″ x 36″ shoji screen, much like clapboard siding. I chose the easier route, which is to buy a roll of paper that can be sized/cut to cover the entire screen.
Below are the instructions, not exactly Ikea, but you get the idea:
And basically that’s what I did. For the adhesive, tempted as I was to make my own glue out of cooked rice (seriously-I will try that at some point), I found a jar of YES paste and slightly diluted it with warm water using a mortar and pestle to smooth it out. I then applied it using a 1/2″ acrylic brush (1/4″ would have worked better) to all the kumiko and about 1/2″ in on all the rails and stiles. Once the paper was rolled out and pressed on to all tacky surfaces I took a solid 36″ straightedge and using an extraordinarily sharp X-acto knife, I trimmed the excess paper off. If while attempting this procedure, you listen very carefully when lightly sliding the blade along the straightedge, you can hear the fibers of the paper being cut. It pays off to attend to this as it will assist in not cutting the wood of the shoji unnecessarily.
Once the glue dries (about an hour) you can spray the paper with water using an atomizer. Or, like Toshio Odate you can simply take a drink out of your mug and spray it out of your mouth all over the back. (see this Martha Stewart video detailing exactly that at 4:06). Either way works.
And voila! You have shoji.
Again, for all the details/good stuff check out “Shoji” by Jay Van Arsdale.