Claudia Lee is my Julia Child. I am working through Mastering the Art of French Cooking- except my veal stock will be a bundle of plant fiber boiled in soda ash, and there will be Abaca pulp pureed in a Hollander beater with a dash of pigment and a cup of formation aid. We will also explore presentation: handmade sheets served up in a Coptic stitch binding or origami fold. I can picture little text blocks of signatures like layers of phyllo dough. I plan to further develop my taste for paper, and maybe move a small step closer to synesthesia.
Claudia Lee (owner of Liberty Paper Mill) and I applied for and received the TAC/ TACA* Master Craft Artist and Apprentice Program grant. Our proposal was to create handmade papers for handmade books. This blog will document my experience as her apprentice. Essentially (and unlike a traditional apprenticeship), the plan is to teach me as much as possible about papermaking in the time we have, binding books along the way- which will then determine what to try next in terms of fine-tuning my paper.
According to TACA, the Artist/Apprentice program is intended to "facilitate concentrated learning experiences that encourage and invest in the continuation, advancement and creation of Tennessee craft." We emphasized in our application the traditional methods we would be using and while they will be the foundation of the program, I hope to expand and develop my personal voice in paper and book forms even beyond the scope of the grant. I agree with Bruce Metcalf when he wrote that “To craft, tradition is not necessarily backward, corrupt or a restraining force in civilization; it is not an anchor, but a rudder.”
*(TAC= TN Arts Commission, TACA= TN Association of Craft Artists)
Some photos of the mill: