Sunday, November 22, 2009

Shark teeth and Emily Dickinson

sea grass pulp in empty studio waiting for paper maker

holiday cards, bottle cap test paper and shark's teeth

Last Monday I was convinced by my dear friend Rose, to go to Port Royal (near Paris Island S.C.) and look for prehistoric shark teeth, popular pastime in this area...only tiny teeth left after years of being picked over... occasionally a large one is found. I was supposed to be making paper and making Christmas Cards (I pulped up all last year's Christmas wrappings from 3 families to make post cards for this year) but hey... finding teeth is great fun !!!

Well, while there at Port Royal we witnessed a space launch from the Kennedy Center in Cape Canaveral Fl.!!!!!! clearly seeing the vapor trail... and found several shark teeth and some bottle caps in the parking lot.

I am collecting 1,000 caps for a paper project about litter... still need a few hundred more. This has been in progress for 2 years now !

I was also supposed to be working on a new meeting site for The Emily Dickinson International Society, Beaufort Branch !!!!!! of which I am a member - hopelessly in love with poetry, Dickinson and Whitman. The day turned out great and I got the postcards cut late into the night...... just don't know what to put on them yet... need to read a little more poetry ! Procrastination is my friend !

Paper Conference, Atlanta GA

Banana stalk paper draining on molds, pulp in black vat

I attended the Friends of Dard Hunter 28th Annual Paper Conference in Atlanta back in October... so much happening I haven't had time to process the huge amount of information presented here. It's always a chance to catch up with old friends and see what's new in the paper world - always mind boggling, breath taking and inspirational. This year was no different except, friend and artist, Madeline Gary attended with me making the experience that much richer - both hoping to attend next year in Tennessee. My sea grass paper was well received so I will continue to refine my process for the best possible results.

Helen Heibert's demo on shrinkage of over beaten abaca, Steve Miller's workshop making banana stalk paper ( I could just eat it... orangey and translucent - yum) and Drew Mattot's Combat Paper Project were standouts. See Helen's video "Water Paper Time"- unique !

Combat Paper Project

The Combat Paper Project -
cutting up soldiers' uniforms to make pulp for a very special paper made into journals or for art or poetry. Soldiers who donate these uniforms write of their experiences or feelings.... very cathartic and very helpful in re-entering society after serving in a war zone... swords into plowshares so to speak, uniforms into a platform for words and thoughts. Very nice. Catching on around the country. Loved sharing in this experience.... can't wait to see what happens next year.

Meanwhile I'm looking for a banana tree to grow in my yard along with the pathetic little 5" mulberry tree I brought from NY....hope it makes it. Guess I'll stick with sea grass for now.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

New Challenge

Just returned from Phoenix where I was able to complete an artist book collaboration with artist friend, Pat Sahertian..... "In The Trenches, Hart Island NY". It began last spring with Pat's visit to my studio to custom make all the necessary paper for an edition of 3. We worked individually all summer on the art and finished binding in a very unusual but successful way in Phoenix. We have a gallery to show this work next spring but looking for other venues as well. Extremely fun and rewarding experience... looking for another idea for collaboration.

Creating paper for a specific use... to take simple elements and create something unique... is very powerful. This paper was meant to look like hardened ground... compacted dirt. We used cotton, abaca, canna lily, plant roots and actual dirt - for color - walnut hull dye.... hulls actually gathered in September on Long Island in the Islip Arts Museum parking lot ! The paper was crumpled and heavily gelatine sized. Result: a heavy very strong, rough beautiful paper (I'd like to frame a piece !)...... Pat helped me create this blog... and the challenge is to continue on my own... obviously including pictures with my words will be a very big and new challenge.... !

Making more sea grass paper today but will have to rearrange my studio for production.... it's a small space... papermaking / bookbinding / papermaking / bookbinding etc...

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Experimenting With Sea Grass

Still in the experimental stages in my new studio I'm finding new ways to process and use this found sea grass fiber. I've used a western mold and deckle for blender beaten pulp and an asian sugetta for hollander beaten pulp with varying results. The steamy south makes drying difficult... hoping to refine my processes and make beautiful paper. Stay tuned...

all work by Mary C. Leto © copyright 2009