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Fibers gathered from renewable sources become hand made paper – a versatile material used by artists throughout the world. The metamorphosis of plant fibers into paper originated over 2,000 years ago in China. Contemporary applications are extensive from functional such as clothing, communication, packaging, and tea bags or ceremonial and spiritual such as paper prayers and kites.
Industrial papermakers use trees for their fiber source. Artist papermakers work with a variety of mostly plant fibers such as mulberry (kozo), linen (flax), cotton, gampi, mitsumata and abaca. Paper can even be made from common plants such as milkweed, onion skin or cattails.
I purchase the harvested and dried bundles of fibers which I then soak, rinsed, cook, rinse again and beat into a pulp that is dispersed into water and screened into paper sheets. The finest fibers such as those used for pulp painting are commonly beaten in machines for as long as 13 hours. Western styles of papermaking use a mould and deckle to form sheets, while Eastern methods use a suketta frame. The physical movement of dipping these screens into the vat also varies. Typically the thinnest papers are created with Eastern sheet forming methods. Other papermaking ingredients often include neri, a gooey substance related to the okra plant to keep fibers in suspension. Pigments or dyes add color.
My love of papermaking started in 1997 in a summer class at the Haystack School of Crafts in Deer Isle. I have since worked with many internationally known professionals to increase my technical understanding of this versatile and exciting medium.
Perhaps it was my gardening passion that drew me to the preparation and processing of natural materials for art making. Each paper panel uses my own handmade papers, while some include prints I created on BFK rives paper. Most of the fibers are cotton, abaca, flax, and kozo. They are combined and layered onto gesso coated panels using medium, and finally coated with a UV protecting sealer. All materials are archival. Extending around the sides and onto the backs, the images surround the forms.
With paper the possibilities are endless from sculptural relief and installations, to as humble as a piece of beautiful writing paper.
I hope you enjoy the pieces as much as I did making them.