Statesman Shares SeniorNet Success Story

The Austin American Statesman recently featured SeniorNet student Pui Hui Falkenhainer and her work on her website on washi.

World of washi revealed

Paper artist shares secrets of her delicate style on the Web.

Monday, January 26, 2009

In her north-central Austin home, Pun Hui Falkenhainer is surrounded by more than three decades of her diverse artwork.

Along the walls are intricate paintings she has done for her husband and for the company she once worked for as a commercial artist. Near her fireplace are plastic-covered dolls made by hand using colored washi paper, each layer applied and dried in a process that took weeks for each figure. In her home office are bins filled with smaller angel and choir figurines. And in her dining room and workspace, she has the tools for one of her latest projects, 3-D-style artwork of puppies that she crafts by hand.

Falkenhainer is a small, thin woman with an outsized talent. She honed her skills in Houston at an ad agency after arriving from Korea and getting a master’s degree at the University of Houston. After her retirement, she went through a three-year depression, she says, but came out of it when she began developing her washi paper art skills, learned from her mother.

Referred to as “rice paper,” but actually made from mulberry tree fibers, washi can be used as papier-mâché. Different colored papers can be used together to create layers on a sculpture. Falkenhainer’s projects contain such intricate detail and flawless color work that it’s hard to believe she’s been able to craft so many pieces. Each one can take weeks to make.

Instead of trying to sell her art during the 20 years since her retirement, Falkenhainer instead taught herself how to build a Web site at featuring her work, as well as tutorials showing step-by-step instructions on how to create these different kinds of art.

The site has been around for about seven years and continues to grow as she adds more art techniques and photos. “If I influence one person among the hundreds of visitors, I can say I achieved my goal,” she says. “It’s a privilege that I have something to share with so many people.”

We spoke to Falkenhainer about and her varied artistic work:


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