Sunday, January 16, 2011

Miscanthus Giganteus Anyone ?

Picture This !

One early Saturday morning my doorbell rings and there is the owner of Picture This Gallery on Hilton Head Island, Mira Scott, with a large bag of Japanese Silver Grass (Miscanthus Giganteus). Always up for experimenting with new fibers for papermaking, I was grateful for her effort. A friend of Mira's is growing large quantities of this non-invasive ornamental grass for experimental use as a bio-fuel with great success and she was able to obtain some for me. I love unexpected gifts ! Papermaker, Jane Ingram Allen, has used Miscanthus floridulus, in this family of Silver Grasses to make an excellent strong light tan paper during her papermaking journey through Taiwan. I think I can get a similar result using M."Giganteus"... it looks like a tough plant !

Miscanthus Giganteus

So, along with my banana skins and Canna Lily fiber I have Japanese Silver Grass to process for classes I will be giving at Picture This Gallery beginning February 5th. (see below)

Left: Banana skins, I keep them in the freezer until I have enough to process for a large vat. When my doorbell rings its usually neighbors with banana skins ! Fun.

Center: bark from stalks of my Confederate Rose Plant (they have been steamed and peeled)

Right: Canna Lily stalks and leaves (dried and retting outside for the winter)

Sea Grass (Spartina) found washed up on the beach has to to be soaked and rinsed well to rid it of salt before cooking and beating.

Cooking sea grass (usually covered) in soda ash for several hours before beating.

Vat of beaten sea grass pulp... blender beaten and Hollander beaten, a small mold and deckle on the table (student sized) - I found that the best papers were made in this Nepalese sugetta with a fine bamboo screen.

Finished papers: banana skin - right, sea grass - center, recycled rag paper with some seagrass fibers added and painted with stripes using a paste paper method - left.

Hand Papermaking Classes
This February I will start with beginner papermaking at "Picture This Gallery" on Hilton Head Island. The classes will include a lecture, instructions on making all tools necessary and how to obtain suitable fibers to make acid free quality papers. Students will mostly be using cotton rag fibers, some Asain fibers and for added interest we will combine locally grown and prepared plant fiber.

Intermediate Classes will include plant gathering and preperation, use of different types of molds and deckles and drying systems with some small projects, pulp painting on a small scale.

Advanced Classes will be with Asain type fibers to create fine translucent papers (generaly called rice paper) totally prepared by students, refining beating methods, papercasting and mold making.
The Robert C. Williams Paper Museum, Atlanta, is worth a visit...plan a whole day...if your in town.

If not check their web site. It features current exhibitions and interesting links to many papermakers and artists. It also is featuring a 1/2 hour video, called Mark of the Maker, on the history of the TWINROCKER HANDMADE PAPERMILL.... a fascinating look at every stage of making paper.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Foiled again, but quilled !

Another few days spent on a mountain top in NY's Catskill Mountains (Thanksgiving) and an opportunity to look for plant material for papermaking.

I located a stand of blackberry canes early last Spring but was unable to collect them due to bear activity !... Trying again this November I was turned back by ice and sleet storms. Not giving up....maybe next visit.

Blackberry canes or brambles make an almost black dye or so I've been told and a fair paper. I have free access to all I can fit in my truck at this location. So eventually I will experiment with this fiber.

I did manage to acquire quite a few porcupine quills. I'm guessing they will show up in some new handmade paper as inclusions. The quills are a little dangerous !

Acres of fiber just waiting......

Several years ago I bought Douglas Howell's daughter's family linens at a Friends of Dard Hunter auction and paper conference.

Howell is credited as having revived the art of handmade paper in the 1950's. Most current papermakers can be linked by instructor back to Howell who made beautiful pure paper from linen cloth using only fiber and water and traditional methods... no shortcuts. He loft dried his papers then repressed them.

Howell's fine papers were used by Jasper Johns, Jackson Pollok, Robert Rauschenberg and others. Wherever fine art is shown you can find prints, watercolors and collages of famous artists on his paper. He marked all his papers inconspicuously with a watermark -DH, or an embossed -DH. Fun to look for - I found several in MOMA NYC.

I used an old Irish linen holiday table cloth donated to the auction by his daughter, Elizabeth King, to make some strong thick watercolor type papers for a project. I tried my best to follow the methods of Howell and loft dried most of the paper (my first attempt). My favorite hand made paper to date !

I kept every scrap... and was able to use small pieces for this year's Holiday greeting cards. Thought I'd share the result. Snowflakes punched out of pure white linen paper.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Paper Conference, Joomchi, Pulp and Books

2010 Friends of Dard Hunter Annual International Hand Papermaking Conference was held at The Arrowmont School of Arts and Crafts in Gatlinburg Tennessee.

Once again an incredible few days of amazing papermaking demonstrations, art shows and lectures by the best of the best in the hand papermaking world. Too many to describe here. To see the results and a quick video (my sea grass papers can bee seen on a table if you look quick!) please check Sights and Sounds of Gatlinburg.

ALSO look at the Crane Paper Company site to see my little button project made for this is listed under "Small papers showcase large talents" - I'm very honored to be included here.

Joomchi ...a new word and paper process for me !... It's a Korean form of felting paper. Using strong Asian type papers (mulberry) of different shapes and colors stacked and layered over each other to create a design (quilt like), Lisa Hoesing formed one solid sheet from these layered papers. She folded and refolded the stack many times kneading the small folded bundle in between each fold. The fibers somehow melded together. Beautiful. We all made a semi-perfect sheet of paper ... simple BUT requires practice to develop a rhythm and style.

I see Joomchi in my future and will no doubt show up in the classes I teach.

Joomchi ! Paper Felting demonstrated by Lisa Hoesing

Katherine Nash demonstrating her encaustic (wax) technique for Book and Paper Artists.

Shannon Brock's demonstration of pulp layering. Her wonderful work looks like drawings, you'd never guess it was all colored thin layers of pulp. Her fine lines and many translucent layers have always been a mystery to me... not anymore ! Her generosity in sharing her method is typical of most of the master papermakers who attend this conference.

Jim Croft makes the most beautiful books. He makes wooden book covers from trees he selects, makes the thread from spinning flax and tans hides and makes paper from many things including old fire hoses using a stamper - only methods practiced hundreds of years ago (before the Hollander beater was invented) A joy to see and touch.

Finally, Sidney Koretsky, lectures about his excursions in China with his wife, papermaker Elaine Koretsky. They have been traveling and taking willing students on trips to remote papermaking villages in China for more than 30 years.

They had heard rumors of very large papers being made by hand but never located such an operation until the last trip. Their lectures are always full of great information and tales of the trials of traveling by primitive methods (sometimes ox cart) to reach such villages. This was no exception.

The audience was stunned (ooh's and ahh's) watching a video of these gigantic papers being made by hand. The show stopper was a sheet they brought to the conference - asking for volunteers to come up and help unfold this single sheet.... more and more volunteers were needed as the paper grew in size... then a standing ovation.... what a treasure - Elaine and Sydney Koretsky!