Friday, February 11, 2011

The Joy of Papermaking

I've been away from teaching formal papermaking classes for awhile and almost forgot why I did it. After years of giving classes at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden and Islip Arts Museum and many other places I would periodically take a break from lugging vats and equipment, bucketing water and massive cleanups but somehow I always returned.

I just began teaching a series of classes,- beginner, intermediate and advanced - 8 in all - at the Picture This Gallery on Hilton Head. I realize I'm drawn by the miracle of creating a simple sheet of paper from seemingly simple materials. The process never ceases to impress me and I'm so grateful that I have the knowledge to do this... a secret gift from nature.

The first class - everyone is either smiling, intensely thinking or never looking up... just so busy

Creative juices flowing.......

Full attention and determination to make some beautiful paper....

However... it was the little squeals and gasps as each made their first sheet of paper, and smiles... and child-like joy....... now I remember.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Finding Felts in a Warm Climate

I left behind so many things.... when moving South. Plentiful old army blankets that I could cut to various sizes for papermaking was something I just took for granted. I have not been able to locate even one here in the "low" country even with all the military bases nearby (Parris Island is just one of many).

I have resorted to cutting up a variety of wool blankets when ever I'm lucky enough to find one. Most work well but all create different textures. Nothing like a well worn wool army blanket.

Gingko leaf embedded between two thin sheets of miscanthus fiber formed on "Weed Block". In luck, Mimi Aumann passed on a wonderful website and blog called Ifugao - a source for papermaking products and information. I noticed owner Keith Gum using landscape cloth in place of felt.... so I found a heavy version of synthetic cloth called "Weed Block"... it's made of used plastic water bottles.... how wonderful. A very large roll was reasonably priced and worked very well in place of felt. (leaves a very small pattern but perfectly fine for most plant based paper) AND IT'S GREEN.

Weed Block dries fast, holds its shape - no cockling of the paper, and cleans easily ! I may have found my new "felts".

Miscanthus Results & Indigo Seeds

I just love the color "Indigo blue". The piece below is a cyanotype print - Durer's Adam and Eve - on extremely thin mulberry stitched into a frame of dirt paper ! (paper formulated for the books "In the Trenches" and "Button Tales and Myths") I used cotton linter, sea grass, earth and roots. It was entered into the Friends of Dard Hunter Paper Conference Show and Sale.... not sure exactly what happened to it.... but it had me wishing I had planted my indigo seeds. Hoping to do some more cyanotype prints this spring and experiment with indigo plants as a fiber source in the fall.

"Through the Woods" 2010 FDH Conference

miscanthus wet sheets pressed between blotters and boards

The miscanthus "donation" from Mira Scott was fairly easy to work with. I cooked a small amount of cut and soaked fiber for 4 hours and pulped it in a blender. I was able to make quite a few decent small sheets. I colored some with cinnamon for fun.... the cinnamon fragrance did not last long !

finished miscanthus paper with embedded ginkgo leaf - fun

Indigo seeds on the right and seeds for Hibiscus manihot used to make formation aid - ready for spring