Exhibition Card

I think they look great.


I recently had images taken of my work at Photoservices at TN Tech.


Artist Visit: Susan Hulme

We stopped by Susan Hulme's home studio in Nashville to see some of her new work and samples from the 2010 Paper and Book Intensive: http://www.paperbookintensive.org/pbi2010.html

Although she works a lot with computers in graphic design (and her design work is really great!), she stressed the importance of the physical tactile experience she has when holding a handmade book, working with paper, or printing. The 2010 Paper and Book Intensive was held in Machias, Maine and she created these pieces in Frank Brannon's "Paper Sculpture" class (she also attended Tatiana Ginsberg's "Japanese Natural Colorants for Paper"):

Susan's own clamshell letterpress and a sample from it:

Artist Visit: Sandy Webster

As one of our last studio visits before the conclusion of the grant (with the TN Master Craft Artist/ Apprentice Program), Claudia insisted that we visit the multi-multi-media artist Sandy Webster, and while she lives in Brasstown NC, she still often teaches in TN (and well.. she's just that awesome, so we have to include her). Her work is mesmerizing, combining the things I love about some of my favorite well-known artists like Joseph Cornell and Lee Bontecou. I identify with her affinity to collect things and her work has a history and sense of time. It just feels good to look at- her materials are really worked, aged to perfection.

Sandy makes quilts, weavings, prints, paintings, sculptures, books, boxes, and many many other things. She makes. A lot. She has written, illustrated, and bound a book on her own research creating pigments from soil (Gathering and Processing Pigments from the Earth -available from her website). She is also a creative troubleshooter- she teaches creative thinking through exercises she herself has developed and she is sought after for critiques and valuable input.

Her work and lifestyle are as inspiring as they are intense, and I left Sandy with a renewed energy for my work.

*for a photo of Sandy herself and many more works, check out her website: http://www.sandywebster.com/ linked on the right hand side of this page.


Love Letters

I am a bit behind on my posts. Until I catch up, I am adding this image of paper I made in Claudia's recent workshop here at the Appalachian Center for Craft (her workshop was titled Beyond the Basic Sheet). This paper was made from all the love letters I have ever received (envelopes were included, cards and such were excluded) 1999-2009. They were all put into a blender to create pulp. It was a great project- emotional.. but wonderful. I think the papers are beautiful, with bits of handwriting familiar to me and the blue and black patterns on the inside of the envelopes.


Lake Paper II

Today I actually got a chance to make paper in the lake.

Nashville Public Libary

On a recent trip to Nashville, Claudia and I scheduled a "tour" of the Wilson Limited Editions Collection at the Nashville Public Library. It is such a wonderful resource in a city so close to us and we had a great time seeing the handmade papers, prints, and bindings. Having studied printmaking, I enjoyed seeing prints by Betye Saar, Jim Dine, Benny Andrews, Barry Moser, Robert Motherwell, and Faith Ringgold. The bindings --especially the later books that focused more on artistic quality-- were so beautiful. Many had clam shell boxes, pockets, portfolios, and even bronze decoration on the top- like The Temple of Flora (containing Jim Dine's gestural prints).

Hearing the history of the collection from Elizabeth Coleman as she showed us some of the most interesting pieces was a real treat. She is a great storyteller, knowledgeable about both historical and aesthetic aspects of the pieces and so enthusiastic about everything.

From the Wilson Limited Editions Collection website linked on the right hand side:

"The Limited Editions Collection includes over 800 books, dating from 1929 to the present, most published by the Limited Editions Club and Arion Press, as well as separate portfolios of some of the fine artwork that illustrates many of the beautifully-bound books. Books and artwork from the collection are on display in the East Reading room at the Main Library during regular hours. Individual appointments to view materials not currently on display may be arranged by calling 862-5800."


The Gilded Leaf

So Claudia and I went to pick up a guillotine from Robert Owen Roberts whose business is called The Gilded Leaf. He is upgrading a lot of his equipment and had some things for sale. Trained as a bookbinder in Chicago, Roberts has relocated to Maryville, TN. His work is astonishing. While some of his work is extremely creative and has beautiful texture and color combinations as well as unusual decorative elements, he actually specializes in historic restoration. Much of his work is in restoring family bibles and historical ledgers. He showed us a sample of a springback ledger, a style of binding we had never seen. He has an extensive collection of very high-quality marbled papers, made for historical accuracy. Even the cases for the books were as amazing as the books themselves.

There is more information about his work and detailed photos on his blog for the Gilded Leaf:
http://gildedleafbindery.blogspot.com/ (Also linked in the list to the right.)


Itajime II

These are my paper samples using itajime block resist and non-waterproof ink. I found it best to let it dry, then unclamp. Claudia mentioned I should look up orizomegami and shiborizome gami rather than itajime. However, I still have yet to find anything online that shows the crispness and geometry of itajime methods on paper.


Itajime Paper

In teaching a class this weekend on Itajime (traditionally folded/block-resisted/dyed fabric), I wondered if this has been done with paper. It has, of course-- but not much. I couldn't find much online on how to do it. However, I decided to work with some of my eastern-style handmade papers.

Here's what I came up with after a couple tries:
1. fold then wet the paper by spraying it with water.
2. clamp the paper with plexi blocks and C clamp.
3. brush on INK- I used black non-waterproof (but I read somewhere that waterproof is best?) I think this is better than having to rinse the paper after dyeing
The result:

The problem I ran into was: Should I let the piece dry, then unfold it --or unfold is when it is damp so that the folds do not stick permanently?? This is something I'm still experimenting with. The ink bled into the resist very quickly when it was unclamped while damp- so maybe I'll try letting it dry and see if the paper survives...

[My original Itajime samples which inspired this project.]


So the denim pulp idea was put on hold for taking forever-- also the studio had to be used last weekend for my Itajime workshop. Today I divided up what I had in the beater initially and decided to resume beating it in smaller quantities. After restarting it today, I had to call in Cherry Cratty to troubleshoot. The material was not breaking up. She brought over a great book and suggested that I lower the beater blade more- and also cook the rest of the material in soda ash. I had lowered the beater blade when I had the original large load in the beater and felt like I was overworking the machine and getting it too hot. With less material circulating this time, it was safe to lower it and make it work. Within minutes I could see a difference. Thanks, Cherry!!!

*Claudia returns from John C Campbell folk school today. One of her upcoming workshops, Handmade Paper: Beyond the Basic Sheet, will be here at the Appalachian Center for Craft July 18-23. Registration is still available at 615.597.6801. I'll be there as an assistant, Claudia's workshops are always a hit (very productive too), and this place is so beautiful this time of year.


Lake Paper

Not too long ago a photo of someone making paper in the ocean inspired me to create large deckle boxes. Using cheap wood, polyurethane, hardware cloth, and screening, I made a series of boxes-- the largest of which is 2'x4'. I plan to use them in Center Hill Lake, a short hike from my cabin at the Craft Center. I tested out one 2'x2' deckle box at Liberty Paper Mill yesterday. I lined a wooden frame with plastic and filled it with water until it the deckle floated inside, I pulled a sheet of paper, and I let it dry in the sun. Claudia told me that it should be completely dry before I took it off the screen so that it would restraint dry as much as possible. When it was dry, I peeled it off and had a beautiful large sheet of paper. The deckle box materials cost less than 50$ total at Lowe's. I can't wait to try it out in the lake this summer.

Sparkle and Fade

Claudia has been teaching me how to pigment pulp using a Whiz Mixer. I have learned about how to add Retention Aid, Sizing, and Pigments. I made pulp in tan and terracotta- which I now know press and dry much much lighter than they appear when wet. I also have been adding Supersparkle from Carriage House, testing out what happens when the powdered mica (which is Supersparkle) is added to the vat or sprayed onto pressed wet sheets. It is very pretty and really seductive.

In addition to learning about pigments and other additives, I've been experimenting with beating cotton rag- specifically denim found in the "free box" (where students donate/ recycle old clothing here at the Appalachian Center for Craft).

I was warned by Claudia that we have so much soap in our clothes that I didn't need to "wash" the denim, I could simply rinse it a lot before beating it. I was lucky and the suds didn't get too out-of-control. The color is BEAUTIFUL. I still have a ways to go in beating it, so i had to put it on hold for a while.

[Cotton rag shredded on the left and halfway beaten on the right.]


The Secret Of Kells

Beverly Plummer, Joyce Seivers, Claudia Lee and I saw the Secret of Kells at Nashville's Belcourt theater. It was fantastic! The hand-drawn animation contained imagery based on the Book of Kells. We all loved it- it was the perfect movie for a group where we have combined experience in bookbinding, papermaking, calligraphy, and printing (as well as other media). The movie was really touching, we were all inspired, and I think we all want to see it again after we research more on the Book of Kells.


Japanese paper

So. Japanese papermaking. Yeah.
In my experience with many aspects of fiber art, I usually get a grasp of many hand processes fairly quickly. Japanese papermaking was not one of those things.

Just looking at the difference in Claudia's demo sheet and my sheet, you can see the fibers are supposed to line up and distribute very evenly.

[My poor first attempt at Japanese papermaking]

[Claudia's demo-- note the difference.]

I made about twenty sheets of kozo paper (at least they looked like ok sheets to me) using a sugeta and then switched to western papermaking using the Thai kozo in the vat. I still have plenty of kozo (in my freezer) ready to make more sheets and I am determined to get a handle on this using the sugeta.

[Both kozo pages, on the left is japanese papermaking, right is made with a western mould and deckle.]


These photos are of experiments with abaca. I use a lot of cartographic imagery in my work, and as I have mentioned before, I digitally print on handmade paper using a desktop printer. Recently, Claudia has taught me her method of including string when pulling a sheet of paper as well as laminating string and other things between two layers of overbeaten pulp to create interesting effects.

[My influences here are my map collection- specifically a map of the ocean, and stick maps of the Marshall Islands]

[This is another experiment with abaca. Sewing thread and spun lokta paper have been laminated between two sheets. The dark color of the lokta paper bled into the abaca- but I love the effect.]

[These are some "recycled" pieces.]

Beater Tests

"Paper is designed in the beater." Claudia has emphasized that the beating of pulp is the largest part of designing paper. In order understand how to use the beater to help create a specific paper, it is common practice to do beater testing. This way, one can see how a pulp is affected by the length of time a pulp is beaten and by other variables like the level/number at which the beater is set and how hard it is beating.

[Claudia and Cheryl look at Tallu Schuyler's beater and fiber testing at the Appalachian center for craft. Her BFA research on handmade paper is a wonderful resource for seeing how many different fibers -including plants from the Craft Center- are made into paper.]

Claudia and I started the beater and waited for the pulp to be broken up a bit.

To do our beater test, we used a mould and deckle box and poured the same amount of pulp from the beater into the box and made a sheet of paper at 20, 40, 60, 80 and 100 min as the beater continued to beat the pulp.

Papers were pressed and then restraint-dried on windows, or air-dried on plastic grids. This shows us how the paper behaves in the process -how it shrinks and cockles.

We beat abaca and bamboo separately, making a set of tests for each fiber. The amount of pulp created a thick paper, and I noticed that abaca shrank quite a lot- where the bamboo remained nearly the same in size. Bamboo, which I had not experimented with before, kept an oatmeal texture even after 100 min.


Artist Visit: J. Smith

Joyce, Claudia, and I visited John Smith, who lives in a beautiful home between Smithville and Sparta. He does everything: paints, designs, makes his own tools, collects many things (from fine art to antique microscopes), builds model ships (that are incredible years-long endeavors where he plies his own thread to make miniature rope for the rigging). He was a trained artist, he worked for many years as industry executive because of his problem-solving ability, and he has incredible creativity. The astonishing thing about John aside from the number of different things he attempts, is that he does everything well. Getting a tour of his collections and interests is like seeing the hobbies of several people combined. However, the main reason for our visit was to see his book collection (comprised of many first editions and extremely rare books), and his own skillful rebinding of books.

John has collected rare books for decades, but became interested in protecting his books and rebinding those that had wear. He has learned a lot about what makes a book gain or lose value --sometimes rebinding is not the best option-- and books can be protected in many different ways. He knows what materials are appropriate for a project and how to do a new leather binding on a century-old book and preserve the original look by integrating well-chosen materials. Looking at his rebound books and clamshell boxes, both are very precise and well-crafted in addition to being archival.

[One of John's beautiful clamshell cases for a book. The navy blue portfolio on the top (that slides perfectly underneath the book), contains loose pages of prints. The navy book cloth on the portfolio matches the navy book cloth on the original book- an example of his attention to detail.]

[Some of John's rare books: Japanese block prints, 150+ years old; Aubrey Beardsley's first published illustrations from the late 19th century; Don Quixote combined 1st and 2nd ed. from 1675.]

John has artistic talent as well as a problem-solving scientific mind and real ingenuity. He made his own press for complex binding processes. It has movable pieces that create the indention on either side of the spine, and the entire press lifts off to become horizontally positioned so that it is easier to work on the spine. In seeing his book collection and how books are reconstructed, I learned so much from John about the structure of books: how marbled paper was attached, how leather is flattened to be folded around a cover-- all things I had never thought of when looking at a book.

[John's press that he built himself.]