We have recently received word that the paper making community we work with are okay considering the scope of the recent tragedy in Nepal. We are relieved, although concerned with current conditions. Of course the paper makers have suffered much loss, and now must face the long hurdle of rebuilding and, more importantly, healing in various ways.
Please join us and continue to find ways to support the people of Nepal through various organizations so clean water, food, medicine, and other necessities can be effectively delivered and administered. Thank you.

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Sizing, dosa, wheat pasteMany of our readers are quite knowledgeable when it comes to sizing your own paper, especially sizing your “go-to” paper.

Here is a step-by-step “recipe” for cooking up your own sizing and applying it to your favorite Eastern paper.

The photos shown here are mostly depicting sizing made from wheat starch.  Nope!, it’s not a gluten-free, but not a problem for the paper, and a nice alternative to animal-based sizing.

Exciting news regarding plant-based sizing… last night we received a new Eastern paper, already pre-sized with devil’s root starch, “konnyaku” -no animals used at all with this process, only human labor.  Photos will be posted soon on social media.

We have entertained many varying viewpoints on sizing and sizing recipes. What are yours? Please share below, along with your experiences in making your own sizing. In the meantime, enjoy our sizing tests, made in our paper “kitchen”, here in Providence.

Adding sizing to paper affects the paper fibers’ sensitivity to humidity, absorption, and bleeding. There are many materials that can be used to size paper; we will cover the sizing procedure for gelatin size and wheat paste. It is not unlike cooking, where 90% of the procedure is preparation. This method allows for easy application with a large soft-bristle brush.

Gelatin Sizing Recipe:

This is the recipe for rabbit skin glue that can be used to size paper. (Please note: the gelatin size will need to be prepared 8-12 hours in advance.) What you will need:

  • Rabbit skin glue: 1/3 Cup (powdered or solid sticks)
  • Crystalline Alum: 1 Pinch (potassium aluminum sulfate)
  • Double boiler with lid (a glass jar and sauce pan will also work)
  • 16–32 oz. plastic / glass container (glass is recommended)
  • Soft-bristle brush

Step One: Soak the glue in a quart of cold water for several hours until it swells and softens. (With solid sticks this may take overnight or 12+ hours).

 

Sizing, dosa, animal skin glue

 

Step Two: Once the glue has softened and become gelatinous heat in a double boiler. The mixture should be stirred continuously until the gelatin has dissolved and the glue has become one consistent solution. (Note: never allow glue to boil). Remove from heat and stir in 1 pinch of alum. Allow the glue to cool slightly and apply warm to your paper. Apply one coat to each side and allow to dry completely on newsprint. Additional coats may be added as necessary.

Sizing, dosa, animal skin glue, wheat paste Sizing, dosa, animal skin glue, wheat paste

Sizing, dosa, animal skin glue, wheat paste

The remaining size solution can be saved in a jar in the refrigerator, and only requires heating to be used again.

 Sizing, dosa, animal skin glue, wheat pasteSizing, dosa, animal skin glue, wheat paste

Wheat Paste Recipe:

This is the recipe for wheat paste that can be used to size paper.(Please note: the wheat paste will need to be prepared one day in advance.) What you will need:

  • Wheat starch: 1/3 cup
  • Double boiler with lid (a glass jar and sauce pan will also work)
  • 16–32 oz. plastic / glass container (glass is recommended)
  • Measuring cup (1/4 cup – 1/2 cup size)
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Nylon fabric

Step One: Fill the bottom of the double boiler with cold water and place on your heat source at a medium heat setting and bring to a low boil. (Alternatively, if you do not have a double boiler a glass jar placed in a saucepan works as well. Add enough water to submerge 1/3 of the jars height.) Sizing, dosa,  wheat paste

Step Two: While you are waiting, measure out your wheat starch and water. We used a 4:1 ratio. 4 parts water to 1 part wheat starch: 11/3 cup of water to 1/3 cup of wheat starch. Mix the starch and water together in the top pan of the double boiler, (or the jar for those who are not using the double boiler) Mix thoroughly, making sure none of the starch has stuck to the bottom. The resulting mixture should be an opaque white solution resembling milk.

Sizing, dosa,  wheat paste Sizing, dosa,  wheat paste Sizing, dosa,  wheat paste

Once you have mixed the ingredients place the pan over the boiling water (or place your jar in the pan) and stir continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. The mixture will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream and small “chunks” will begin to form. Continue stirring until smooth and the mixture has the consistency of custard.

Sizing, dosa,  wheat paste

Step Three: Now the mixture can be covered and allowed to cook over a low boil for 25 minutes, with a quick stir every 5 minutes. The paste should continue to thicken and become somewhat translucent as it cooks. After you’ve allowed the paste to cook, add small amounts of hot water from the pan to your mixture and stir until the paste is smooth and custard like.

Sizing, dosa,  wheat paste Sizing, dosa,  wheat paste

Pour the paste from your pan into your designated container and allow it to cool in a refrigerator over night. This is to allow the paste to gel into a homogeneous solid.

Sizing, dosa,  wheat paste

Step Four: Once the paste has gelled, wring a small amount through a piece of fabric: nylon, cotton, handkerchief, etc… Slowly add small amounts of water and mix with a brush until the paste is thin enough to apply with a brush to your paper. Apply one coat to each side and allow to dry completely on newsprint. Additional coats may be added as necessary.

Sizing, dosa,  wheat pasteSizing, dosa,  wheat paste

Sizing, dosa,  wheat pasteSizing, dosa,  wheat paste

Remember: As with all size, test for each use, and dilute as appropriate. If in doubt, thin and apply multiple coats. Allow the paper to completely dry between each coat. The best way to learn how much size to use, and when to use it is through experience and experimentation.

Sizing, dosa,  wheat paste, gelatin, rabbit skin glue

Do you have the winter blues? Right now, if you are in the New England area, you might say: “yes!” We have had quite the winter so far, with snowstorm after snowstorm, and bitter cold to boot.

However, with my amazing staff we have been able to keep our tight paper-ship running, sending out orders, and meeting with various paper artists who enjoy the experience of visiting our warehouse and showroom. There was one special visitor by Ms. Christine Aaron, who between blizzards drove to our humble headquarters all the way from Porchester, NY. Her presence thoroughly warmed up the season; especially her joyful smile and pure enthusiasm for creating art-  just the medicine we needed to cure the winter blues.

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper

Enjoy Christine’s interview, as well as images of her works and from our warehouse. We know it will cure any cabin fever you may be experiencing this winter.

PCI: Please tell us about your background, Christine, and what kind of artwork you do.

CA: I’m a mixed media artist whose current mediums of choice are printmaking and wax, employed on a variety of substrates such as paper, metal, mirror and wood. In my last few series, I am using tree imagery as symbolic of memory, life’s record and the passage of time.

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PCI: What inspires you? Which artists have influenced you?

CA: I find inspiration from so many sources. Some of these might seem more apparent in my work, others less so. Trees, both living and deteriorating, of course!  I admire and respond to a wide range of artists’ work, not stemming from any particular group or “type.” Current favorites are Anselm Kiefer, El Anatsui, The Gees Bend quiltmakers, Emilie Brezinski, Lynn Geesaman, Klimpts landscapes, Thiebauds  landscapes. I am recently very intrigued by and drawn to outsider art. I try to go to visit museums, galleries, and go to the exhibits of artist friends and contemporaries. The good and the bad of it is that the sources of inspiration and therefore possibilities of choice/direction within my work are endless.

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, Remnant

Remnant

PCI: What attracts you to working with paper?

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper,Tree Muse II

Tree Muse II

CA: It’s versatility! It’s reception of any medium. The fact that paper can assert its presence, or visually disappear. Its uses range from the diaphanous to the sculptural, and there is a paper for every artistic need possible.

PCI: What do you like best about working with paper? Have you ever made paper?

CA: I have never made paper though it has always been of interest to me. There are so many options when you engage artistically with paper and I feel like I am just beginning to scratch the surface as to its possibilities within my artwork.

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper

PCI: This is so true. We have been in the world of paper for over twenty years now and it’s amazing how much more you can learn, regarding how it’s made to each sheet’s qualities.  So how did you hear about Paper Connection?

CA: I was introduced to Paper Connection at the 8th International Encaustic Conference in Provincetown, Mass. It’s an annual conference conceived and run by Joanne Mattera, and now co-run with Cherie Mittenthal of the Truro Center for the Arts, that focuses on the medium of wax, and professional development within that field. The vendor room is a smorgasbord of supplies and Paper Connection was one of the vendors.

PCI: And we enjoyed participating in that conference. The members of this encaustic group are very supportive of each other. Paper Connection felt welcomed from our first experience, particularly by artists like yourself.  We are grateful to know you and have been vendors at this conference every year since. How much did you know about Japanese or Eastern papers before using our selection?

CA: I have been using and experimenting with some Japanese papers both in my printmaking (chine colle) and with layering imagery in my work with wax. My “go-to” was a Japanese “silk tissue” and I was struggling to find something similar for an installation I was creating for a solo exhibit. I could not find any source that had this paper in rolls, (only sheets).

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper

Pulling Large Format Print

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper

PCI: How did we help?

CA: Lauren was incredibly patient, and knowledgeable in discussing what my needs were, and suggesting possibilities. I had tried an usukuchi (rayon) paper, and though transparent it didn’t have the “feel” I was looking for. Lauren told me that Paper Connection had rolls of both white and natural gampi, (what I had known as Japanese silk tissue). I bought it on the spot. And then once I experienced printing on it…I ordered lots more!

PCI: For which we were so grateful!  What do you like about gampi paper and how do you incorporate it in your work?

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper

Hand Transfer

CA: This paper is fantastic. Translucent to the point of transparency when printed on, strong yet fragile, it worked beautifully with my imagery. I hand printed multiple  36 x 102 inch panels for my installation. Once hung, they would gently move with any air current, and almost “followed” viewers as they walked through the panels(the movement generated by the air currents of the people). In addition, the sound they made as they moved was lovely…a whisper that added to the audio part of the installation.

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper, Murmur

Murmur

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper, Murmur

Murmur detail

PCI: Paper and Sound…aaahhh! We’re always telling  clients “listen to the sound of gampi”…..

We carry rolled papers with artists like you in mind, for larger format prints and installation pieces. What did you like about those papers that aided in your creative and/or technical process?

CA: The rolls of usuyou gampi worked beautifully for my installation. I also use many Japanese papers in my print and mixed media work. I frequently write or print (oil based paper lithography, hand transferred), on them, and then tear up and reassemble, and layer the imagery as part of a larger composition. Recently I have been experimenting with using these papers dipped in wax, where the paper asserts itself more sculpturally.

PCI:  We are so happy that gampi paper works well with encaustics. What are the differences between our papers and others you have worked with?

CA: I’m not sure I can speak to the differences, since I feel like a novice in this area. However, I will say having someone as knowledgeable as Lauren with whom to speak, makes a huge difference in being able to find the right paper for whatever I’m working on.

PCI: Thank you!

Fill in the blank, if you had to recommend a Paper Connection paper for a particular application:

CA: The Usuyou Gampi for layering within any mixed media work.

PCI: If you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be? Would you talk about paper?

CA: I have tried to answer this question numerous times and there are too many artists to list and questions to ask!

Well said. Our dear readers can imagine which artists are in our imaginary paper salon this month. Thank you Christine, not only for the interview, but taking usuyou gampi paper to new horizons and heights.

Photographs featuring Christine printing were taken at the Center for Contemporary Printmaking with Christopher Shore. Thank you for use of the images.

For more on Christine Aaron please visit her website: christineaaron.com

5_C_Aaron_Forest Muse

Muse

8_C_Aaron_RedArches

Red Arches

Without a doubt Koreans are passionate about their kimchi and have successfully shown the rest of the world what they’re boasting about. After attending a hanji-Korean paper- symposium entitled ” A Thousand Years Old Hanji, Meets the World” , I have no doubt hanji too will soon be rolling off everyone’s tongue! Korean kimchihanji symposium, ksdf, Korean Craft and Design Foundation

Hanji is one of the finest papers in the world and certainly has many die-hard fans.  It is, however, still less known in the global market compared to other Asian papers, i.e. Japanese (washi), Thai, or even Indian cotton papers.

 

SO WHAT ARE SOME OF THE UNIQUE QUALITIES OF TRADITIONAL HANJI?

webal -style sheet formation, no top locking screen, side to side dip, each sheet is double-couched in 2 opposite vertical directions, log rolled over couched sheet to elimate air bubbles and possibly helping release pulp from bamboo screen, and dochim: burnishing or hammering process which flattens, increases the density of paper.

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Most of the attendees from foreign countries were book and paper conservators from places like the Tate Gallery in London, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and several other world-renowned institutions. In fact, the focus of the conference was the case for hanji to be used in repair and conservation.  Once the special features of traditionally-made hanji were established over a few days, the conservators could better speculate in what particular repair applications hanji would be the right fit.  The visit to observe actual papermaking, was one step towards understanding the material at hand and how it may behave with other materials.  It was a rare occasion for conservators and papermakers to be sharing each others’ daily jobs, but quite key for mutual of understanding between users and makers.

For me, this emphasized the need for paper vendors like Paper Connection,  as we are really “interpreters” of so many hundreds of paper needs and applications.  At Paper Connection we feel it is our role to chronically disseminate and convey information into a paper vocabulary which the maker or manufacturer can relate to.

Thanks to the prestigous members of the group, we had the privilege of being invited to a special viewing of the archives of Chonbuk National University, (one of the largest collection of antiquities in Korea); what incredible facilities.

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Two of my favorite book authors were part of my group:  Ms. Aimee Lee and Mr. Nick Basbanes.

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As you can imagine, the uses for hanji are endless, also true for almost any other well-made paper.

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Of course, Paper Connection is honored to carry hanji, both in an array of wonderful colors and neutral tones. Our hanji line is becoming quite popular, and now available here.  In 2015, we will be stocking a thicker (96 gsm) hanji for printmaking or for backing, and a new thinner paper for basket cording.  Check back here often!

We were very lucky guests of the mayor of Jeonju, 20141218_115712where we were treated to feasts and traditional pansori music performance.  Jeonju is considered the home of hanji and famous for the old-style architecture maintained in Hanok VillageIMG_9274of course, bibimbap, (rice bowl with meat), and the best pansori singer in the land.SAMSUNG CSC

Many thanks again to The Korea Culture & Design Foundation for inviting me to the symposium.  It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about hanji and its culture, its  applications in conservation, and Korea, of course.  A very special thanks to Ms. Bo Kyung Kim of Fides International and hanji artist Ms. Aimee Lee.

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Photographs provided by Paperwoman and KCDF.

This special limited edition calendar is printed on all handmade kozo paper. Patterns are printed in Toyama, Japan, using Mr. Serizawa‘s original stencils (kata).   Each page measures ~12×15 inches and are works of art on their own.  It is now available here on our shopify store.

Sold in a portfolio/set of 12 prints.  Only 1 copy in stock@$200.00.Limited Edition Serizawa Calendar

Limited Edition Serizawa Calendar for saleLimited Edition Serizawa Calendar for sale

Limited Edition Serizawa Calendar for sale

Limited Edition Serizawa Calendar for sale Limited Edition Serizawa Calendar for sale

We are rounding out 2014 with an interview with artist David A. Clark, who, much to our delight, paid us a visit to our warehouse and showroomdavid a clark, printmaker, encaustic !

We enjoyed the visit, especially as things wind down as the year closes out. His perspective on handmade paper and printmaking gave us a renewed outlook as we focus on our goals for 2015. As you muse over yours, please enjoy his interview and images of his work. Thanks, David, it truly was our pleasure!

PCI: What kind of artwork do you do?

DAC: I’m really interested in the idea of trajectory and impulse and the way those two abstracts influence one’s direction, thought and the way we, as human beings, move, act, think and feel as a result of their influence. My work has always been an exploration of the idea that life is a series of small impulses and trajectories strung along a larger arc. Those concepts are manifested in many different ways in my work, and for the last several years most of them have been brought to life with encaustic and paper. Lots and lots of paper.

Ancient Histories #11, 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural 38” x 25”

Ancient Histories #11, 2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural
38  x 25 inches

PCI: And we love to hear that! What or who has influenced/inspired you?

DAC: I find inspiration everywhere, but I’m process oriented, so typically I will have an idea in my head that is amorphous, it’s usually a feeling or an impulse that is pushing me to find it a physical form and I’ll be working in my studio on a different project and some bit of what I am doing will ‘bridge the gap” between the idea and the object, and the work will begin to take shape. Honestly though, at the moment I find great inspiration in the materials that I am working with. Materials can often be the “bridge” between the ephemeral and the physical. A perfect example is when you showed me the Sakamoto paper at 7th International Encaustic Conference. I had not worked with paper like that before, but I touched it and it triggered a curious spark. So, I bought every sheet she had and it took me about a year for that paper to find the right “idea” partner to form a dance. But I knew the minute I touched that paper that I could tell a story with it and that it would be the perfect marriage with the impulses that were percolating in my head.

2.Ancient Histories #14 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on layered Gampi & Sakamoto 32.5 x 18.5 in.

Ancient Histories #14
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on layered Gampi & Sakamoto
32.5 x 18.5 in.

Ancient Histories #22 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight 38.5 x 25 in.

Ancient Histories #22
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight
38.5 x 25 in.

PCI: What attracts you to working with paper?

DAC: Paper is language. It holds nuance and, because I am mostly printing right now, it is the catalyst for the image. As a material, paper is so versatile. It’s ephemeral or lasting, fragile or strong, absorbent or impermeable, but the most important quality to me currently is the organic nature of paper and it’s link to a historical context. There are so many different types of paper that can tell different stories. The work that I am doing at the moment is a direct result of the alchemy of process between particular types of paper, the encaustic paint I am printing with and the ideas that are asking to be made. The body of work I am currently making is very much a collaboration with paper.

 

Ancient Histories #46 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight 21.5 x 38.5 in.

Ancient Histories #46
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight
21.5 x 38.5 in.

Ancient Histories #103 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight 38.5 x 25 in.

Ancient Histories #103
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight
38.5 x 25 in.

PCI: We love the language analogy, as relating paper to language, semantics  and cultural dialect is a part of my daily goal. After all, paper is a surface invented to transmit information via language, as your layered artwork does so very well.  What do you like best about working with paper? Have you ever made paper?

DAC :I asked Catherine Nash, an artist, friend, author and expert on handmade paper, to show me how to work with high shrinkage flax last year. I loved working with the pulp and forming the sheets. I can see projects involving making my own paper at some point in the future, but for now I have my hands full with the work I am doing. I have visited some paper makers in Thailand and Cambodia, but I think a trip to Japan will be in order at some point when the ideas in my head get too big for the sheets that I am able to buy.

Ancient Histories #107 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight 25 x 38.5 in.

Ancient Histories #107
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight
25 x 38.5 in.

Ancient Histories #127 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural 25 x 38 in.

Ancient Histories #127
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural
25 x 38 in.

PCI: How did you hear about our company?

DAC: I first encountered Paper Connection International through you at the 7th International Encaustic Conference. I think I bought half of everything you had that first day. You had papers I had never seen before that had qualities that I knew would work well for me. Lauren, you have since become a good friend and a terrific resource for information. I’ll often email and ask about paper recommendations for projects. And I am really looking forward to visiting the store this fall for the first time. I have mostly been dialoguing with you at the Conference and by email, but so much of ones relationship to paper is tactile, so I am looking forward to touching everything in the store.

Self Portrait 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural 25 x 38 in.

Self Portrait
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural
25 x 38 in.

Passage #1 2014 Encaustic Monoprints on Sakamoto 38.5 x 150 in.

Passage #1
2014
Encaustic Monoprints on Sakamoto
38.5 x 150 in.

PCI: David, thank you so much. We really appreciated that first day at the Conference, as it led to such great things! Did you have much knowledge about Japanese papers before using our papers?

DAC: I have a rudimentary education in Japanese paper. Catherine Nash has been a terrific resource, and you and your staff at Paper Connection International have been a huge, huge help in illuminating and educating me in what is available. And I’m a voracious reader and researcher, so my knowledge of paper is ongoing.

PCI: In what ways did Paper Connection help navigate and perhaps inform you about Japanese paper?

DAC: When you introduced me to Sakamoto Heavyweight and your beautiful Kozo Natural. Those two papers form the foundation of my current work. That work would be telling a much different story without those two papers.

PCI: What papers do you use of ours and for what process?

DAC: Currently I’m working on a series of Encaustic Monoprints called “Ancient Histories” which is printed on Sakamoto, Sakamoto Heavyweight, Kozo Natural, and some Kitakata, Tamura Koban, Mexican Handmade, Akatosashi and Sekishu. The Sakamoto and the Kozo Natural form the backbone of the series. They are the most beautifully strong, forgiving and versatile papers. There is something unique that happens in the print process with these papers that is pure magic.

PCI: What did you like about those papers that aided in your creative and/or technical process?

DAC: I particularly love the velvety texture and soft, organic color of the Kozo Natural, and the two opposing surfaces of the Sakamoto, both the smooth and the more velvety, and that it comes in two different weights. Both papers print well, but they each print slightly differently when printing with encaustic. And something particular occurs with the Sakamoto that doesn’t happen with any other paper. I like these papers so much I teach with them now.

PCI: We love hearing that! What are some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with?

DC: Paper Connection carries paper that I cannot get anywhere else.

PCI: Thank you for noticing that! And yes, we try our best to provide those specialty papers while supporting the paper makers who craft them.  Fill in the blank, if you had to recommend a Paper Connection paper for a particular application:

DAC: I would recommend the Kozo Natural. It is such a glorious paper for encaustic printing.

PCI: Good choice. Bonus question:  If you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be?  And would you talk about paper?

DAC: I’d have a conversation with my friend Catherine Nash. She’s such a gifted artist, and I love her work and the way she thinks. Catherine wrote an amazing book about artists that work with encaustic and paper called “Authentic Visual Voices: Contemporary Paper and Encaustic”.  Spending time with Catherine is like going to Mount Olympus. She has such a wealth of knowledge about paper that the whole sky opens up and one looks around and discovers that the world is made with paper.

PCI:  Catherine is truly is an innovator in the paper world; she is never afraid of using paper in new ways with a variety of materials.

We hope that visiting Paper Connection was like going to Mount Fuji?  haha… I do remember you saying it was the highlight of your trip to Rhode Island; that was pure music to my ears.  Thank you again, David!   I am excited to have you visit Japan; I would be thrilled to be your guide.

Click on David’s website here.

Here are some images of David’s visit to our warehouse:

We met Helen Hiebert back in the early ’90s, in SoHo, NYC at Dieu Donné Papermill , and have since watched her blossom into truly a paperwoman extraordinaire.

In our conversation below, we discuss handmade paper with Helen, who has cultivated a solid reputation as an educator, artist, writer and champion of the art of paper.  Enjoy her musings on handmade paper, altitude, and insight on her techniques, as well as what new paper goodies she is offering this time of year!

PCI:  What first attracted you to papermaking?

HH:  The fact that I could make paper from the ground up. I was involved in a community garden in NYC when I first learned to make paper at Dieu Donné Papermill, so I was learning about growing plants for the first time. When I discovered papermaking, I was intrigued by the fact that I could grow and make the raw material, and then continue working with it by making art.

PCI:  Would you say your approach to papermaking is more scientific or do hope to achieve a certain aesthetic goal? Do you aim to create your papers as a base for your artwork?

HH: To answer the first part of that question, I think I do both: I have an experimental approach to working with abaca – testing its strength and ability to become translucent and shrink in relation to various things I interject into the process (embedding string and wire for example, or nailing wet sheets to a board, thus interrupting and altering the drying process). But when I am working on a particular project, like Mother Tree or The Wish, I do have an aesthetic goal, and I choose from my reportoire of techniques to order achieve these goals. And to answer the second part of the question: I do not see myself as making papers as a base for my work but as the material that I’m most likely to work with.

The Wish, installation by Helen Hiebert.

The Wish, installation by Helen Hiebert.

The Mother Tree, installation by Helen Hiebert.

The Mother Tree, installation by Helen Hiebert.

PCI: How have traditional Asian papermaking methods influenced your papermaking?

HH: A trip to Japan in the late 1980’s inspired my interest in handmade paper. I saw handmade papers in shops and was struck by the light filtering through the traditional shoji screens at the inn where I was staying. This was not a paper trip, but rather a trip to visit my father who was working in Japan, so it was purely inspirational. But that trip became the beginning of my career! Upon my return to NYC where I was living, I began looking for ways to return to Japan to learn papermaking. I remember visiting an out-of-the-way bookstore and purchasing Sukey Hughes bookWashi, and I think I purchased Tim Barrett’s book around that time. When I was researching ways to travel to Japan (i.e. an income stream) I discovered Dieu Donné Papermill and volunteered there for a short time. Then I became Program Director and worked there for six years. I never went back to Japan (not yet at least) and I learned all about Western papermaking and creative papermaking techniques.

PCI:  We absolutely love this video of children learning papermaking at Dieu Donné, as featured on Sesame Street! Spot Helen @ 00:25, 00:39, and 1:47.  The other artist is Robbin Ami Silverberg, who now runs her own papermill in Brooklyn.

PCI:  How has your growing knowledge of papermaking influenced how your work has evolved?

HH: I’m not sure this is an answer to your question, but I would expand it to include all of the paper arts. I have a fascination with graphic design and product design, and I’m always looking at materials and products and thinking about how they might translate in paper. I’m also obsessed with techniques that other artists are discovering, and I don’t think that the potential of paper has been fully explored. I’m more concerned with expressing my ideas through paper (and other materials) rather than expanding my knowledge of papermaking, although I’m certainly influenced by what I see and discover.

http://www.paperconnection.com/laurelai-designs

100 x 100 Paper Weavings #51; © 2013 Helen Hiebert Studio, Paper Connection’s Laurelai Design series & Hark! Handmade Paper

PCI: You recently moved from Portland, Oregon, to Colorado. How has the water,  altitude, and all around general move affected your papermaking and work?

HH: People told me my work would change when I moved, but I’m not sure that it has significantly. Part of this might have to do with the fact that most of my projects take years to realize. I’ve also moved a lot, so perhaps that is just part of my being. I miss the artist community I developed in Portland, and my paper dries much quicker here in Colorado.

PCI: You recently completed a trip to Europe. What were some highlights? Anything that would find its way incorporated into your next pieces?

I taught a workshop and lectured at the Papierwespe in Vienna.  Beatrix Mapalagama, the owner, has a great little business in Vienna, providing workshops in all facets of paper. I enjoyed the time I spent with her as well as the teaching.

Artists' books in a Venice window, Italy.

Artists’ books in a Venice window, Italy.

And it was a treat to visit Fabriano in Italy –to see all of the historic equipment and watermarked papers and to participate in the IAPMA (International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists) Congress.  Jocelyn Chateavert gave a demonstration which sparked several new ideas for working with abaca.  I was also able to visit Roberto Mannino’s studio in Rome as well as his permanent paper installation at the Graphic Institute in a building right above the Trevi Fountain.  It is wonderful to be able to share time, stories and ideas with other artists who work in similar ways.

Fabriano IAPMA Congress venue.

Fabriano IAPMA Congress venue.

Jocelyn Chateauvert prepares for her demo, Fabriano.

Jocelyn Chateauvert prepares for her demo, Fabriano.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Biking with friends in Germany.

Biking with friends in Germany.

Herr Chmel's paper theater, Vienna, Austria.

Herr Chmel’s paper theater, Vienna, Austria.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

unnamedceiling

unnamed

PCI: Do you prefer making paper, working with paper, writing, or teaching? What aspects of each of these do you enjoy?

HH: Good question! Part of this has to do with making a living. Years ago, I looked at my income to see which of these areas was most profitable. And you know what? It was pretty even across the board. That told me two things: 1: I could choose one direction and put all of my energy there; or 2: I could continue to have several income streams. I really enjoy each of these facets and think that they play well off of each other.  Sometimes I make myself tired because I can’t turn off the ideas. Lots of them go by the wayside, and others stick.  This keeps me ticking.

Holding, by Helen Hiebert

Holding, by Helen Hiebert

PCI: We are certainly glad you keep active in all fields, and keep those ideas coming! Which artist(s), past or present, would you like to have a conversation with? What would you say about paper?

HH: I’d have to say Eva Hesse, and I would discuss our shared fascination with materials, among other things.  I’ve always thought that she would have loved paper… and she lived really close to Dieu Donné, (although it wasn’t there yet – she died in 1970 and it was founded in 1976). I sometimes fantasize about how we walked along the same streets of New York.

 

 

PCI: What is next for Helen Hiebert?!?

Per Helen’s blog, she posts this:

“A quick heads-up: next Friday through Sunday (11/28 – 12/1) I’m offering FREE SHIPPING on everything you find on my website. Playing With Paper Kits, How-to books, DVDs and art. It will be almost like you’re here shopping in my studio!”  

Don’t miss out on this opportunity!

Window Start Paper Kit, by Helen Hiebert.

Window Start Paper Kit, by Helen Hiebert.

Earlier in the year, Helen  published a wonderful blog about Paper Connection.  We are so pleased to be collaborating more with Helen this year and re-developing a deeper paper relationship between us.

For more on Helen Hiebert, please visit the following:

Website: http://helenhiebertstudio.com/

Blog: http://helenhiebertstudio.com/blog/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelenHiebertStudio

It’s been a while since we last interviewed an Artist of the Month, as we had a busy summer gearing up for shows, like this one. We have also been working on this shop, which is very exciting.  Alas, no excuses, and we have a very special interview with Ms. Leni Fried, who we have visited before, in her inspiring studio in beautiful western Massachusetts in the Berkshires.

Leni is a printmaker, and has been teaching mostly monoprint and collograph for over 3o years.  She has elevated our questions into a conversation all of her own. We let her have free reign as she had much to share and much to say:

Mission Statement

Art has no one mission statement as what drives me for producing a piece of art is always in flux.

After our government’s violent response to the terrorists events of September 11, 2001, I was so upset, I could not make any art for 3 months.  My artwork became intensely political once I emerged.

The piece below is called,  ‘The people say no to war propaganda’.

lenifried,statue of liberty,9.11,print

When I saw our governments response to Hurricane Katrina I began a series of linocuts.  The one below is called ‘The Faces of Katrina.’

facesofkatrina

and this one ‘Abandoned’.

abandoned

I was amazed to discover that the artwork of many of my artist friends did not seem to be affected by current events.  For me art is a barometer of our time and has the potential to create powerful changes. 

Inspiration

My favorite artists have varied tremendously throughout my life depending on what subject matter and technique I am working with in my own work.

When I lived in the city I was very attracted to Romare Bearden’s work.  The flatness of his imagery and stark use of color and of course the power and poetry in his work still moves me tremendously.

You probably can see by looking at this detail of his famous piece called ‘The Block’ how he influenced the cityscapes I was doing at the time.

romare

Most of the greatest artists are the ones who are not in museums.  Museums recycle the same artists in a continuous loop.

Of the famous artists I have been influenced by the Matisse cutouts, Hundertwasser, Paul Klee, Munch and others.  Less famous ones, such as Bread and Puppet theater, my friend Helio, Bob Blackburn, Mary Teichman, Sarah Sears and many more I’ve met along the way will probably never be celebrated in the more public sense.  They have inspired me the most.

artist in holyoke, Leni Fried, prinmaking

‘Artist in Holyoke by Leni Fried’

Right now I am in love with Asian art. I never expected to do landscapes and in my 30’s I often mocked landscapes in terms of having very little to say.  Placid exercises in realism…

But now I have been doing a series of tree prints especially winter imagery. This work is influenced by Hokusai and other great Japanese printmakers.  Here is one of the winter tree prints called ‘Skyward’.

skyward

As far as papers go I have always loved paper which is one of the reasons I love printmaking.

I buy paper from all sources. What I love most about Paper Connection is that Lauren shares my love of paper as well.  I am working on a series of scrolls which are imported from Beijing.  They are blank and I print on the thinner papers from Paper Connection and adhere them to the scrolls.  Almost any thin paper you (Paper Connection) carries will work for this.  My favorites are in the HK series, that are very smooth and some that have a browner tone.

I use lightweight Kozo (#M-0207-2) for my classes because it is inexpensive and prints consistently.

scroll, leni fried,print, kozo, kouzo,

A scroll by Leni Fried, printed on Kozo (PCI code number M-0202).

Paper Connection’s papers are useful for hand printing because they are thin and the surface is very sensitive.

 New Work

Here’s a peek at the new series using  vintage Japanese red kozo paper.  These chickadee prints are made using one plate made from mylar. The mylar is double thickness and linear elements are added using a stencil burner that melts and abrades the surface.  There is a rainbow roll with oil based inks on the background. The chickadee is inked with black like an etching and then the rest of the colors are handpainted.  They are monoprints because of the hand painting and that the positioning on the plexi background plate will vary from one print to the next.  The other chickadee prints are done similarly. Some are mounted in the Chinese wall scrolls and the thin Japanese paper is from Paper Connection.

Learn more here.

Leni Fried printing on red Kozo, Paper Connection International

Two chickadees on red Kozo

Chickadees on thin Kozo from Paper Connection International

Chickadees on lightweight Kozo.

 

Painting But Not On Paper

Besides printmaking, I have done quite a few bicycle paint jobs throughout my life.

They are hand painted and quite complex.  This one involves anodizing titanium and is a memorial to my customer’s golden retriever!  So here’s a picture of one of the bikes even though this is not paper related.

This was a client from Hawaii.  Anela means angel.  Kauai is the island he lives on.”

kauibikebikeleni

 Where To Find Leni

These and other prints can be found on Leni’s Etsy shop!  She also conducts workshops, which are very one on one. Monoprint, collograph, and some hand printing techniques are taught.  She will start a class anytime with 4 people.

Leni is also having two open studios this Fall season. Her studio is also open by appointment.

Here are some other community events she is participating in:

The Bagshare Project

Arts & Industry Open Studios, in Florence, MA, November 8th & 9th, 2014

Her studio i

Check out her calendar here.

studio6

Leni’s studio

To catch up with Leni and all her works, please visit her following websites:

www.lenifriedprintmaking.com

www.titaniumarts.com

Thanks, Leni, for sharing all your insight into your art, and your support of real fine art paper!

 

What is “mokuhanga“?

The Japanese woodblock print or mokuhanga, is a precise, multi-step printmaking technique, using water-based pigments applied with brushes, not rollers.  The latter may give you some of idea of how mokuhanga differs from the western woodcut print.  The paper (usually washi) is moistened, laid on block and a baren is used to rub back side of paper.

This multiple-colored block print form became popular during the Edo period (1603-1867).  Many of the old techniques are still followed. What has mostly changed is the growing awareness and broad spectrum of artists who are adopting their individual styles and at the same time, spreading the word about the unique process of mokuhanga.

baren, mokuhanga, printmaking

Barens and Brushes

Special veneer woodblocks

Special veneer woodblocks

 At the beginning  of my career involving Japanese arts and crafts, I was privileged to curate a collection of “ukiyo-e” prints.  The term ukiyo-e translates as Images of the Floating World.  The masters of ukiyo-e laid down the base and framework for contemporary woodblock prints.

Here HOKUSAI’s  The Great Wave off Kanagawa (from a Series of Thirty–Six Views of Mount Fuji) is shown printed on various washi with sizing and without;  a research chart presented by Awagami Factory at Tokyo University for the Arts using Japanese paper from different parts of Japan and different sizing recipes.  I thought this was a brilliant depiction of how different papers  yield different results for the same print.

Hokusai, wave, ukiyo-e,taganoura

Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa

KUNIYOSHI’s prints of anthropomorphized animals, show just how colorful and how may colors applied in these mokuhanga from 150 or years ago.
Kuniyoshi, animals

Kuniyoshi’s One Hundred Horrible Stories

I learned a few important facts about mokuhanga, even in just preparing for our booth for the 2nd International Mokuhanga Conference,  (now the 2nd one), hosted by Tokyo University for the Arts, September 10-14, 2014.
Paper Connection, mokuhanga, washi, printmaking

Our booth

I learned what type of paper is in demand in the West, where mokuhanga seems to be more popular than it is in Japan and that the papers used primarily by artists in the West are much thicker than what the ukiyo-e artists used.  Paper Connection created this special swatch portfolio just for the conference.  We included 11 different papers, with a few surprise papers made from alternative fibers, and with unusual sizing.

mokuhanga papers, sized kouzo, kozo,

Paper Connection’s Mokuhanga Swatch Portfolio

What a joy it was to meet so many talented printmakers from all over the globe and learn from them directly; discussing their criteria for papers for their artwork.  Saw some old friends like Larry Pinto, Marjorie Tomchuk, Michael Durgin and met some lovely new friends like Mia O, Carla Salem, and Claire Cuccio.

 

As within any discipline of art, the desired paper and its use, is as unique as the individual using it.  From the paper seller’s view,  Paper Connection welcomes any and all queries, as this only helps us become better at what we do.

In addition to the IMC ‘s mission; to reinstate the integrity of mokuhanga; in effect, bring it back to the limelight, MI-LAB Art Residency Program forged by Ms. Keiko Kadota has provided a place for artists from all parts of the world to collaborate and learn about mokuhanga in depth.

I had the pleasure of meeting and also hearing a talk by Elspeth Lamb,  author of Papermaking for Printmakers,  and who is on the Board of Glasgow Print Studio.

The Pool, by Elspeth Lamb

The Pool, by Elspeth Lamb

I strive to incorporate informative material before starting a new creative project, even before buying new papers for Paper Connection.  For example, I learned about Mr. Akira Kurosaki use of hanji: Korean mulberry paper for his prints, thanks to mokuhanga expert April Vollmer’s interesting article on the process in Art In Print:
http://artinprint.org/index.php/articles/article/mokuhanga_international

April Vollmer, mokuhanga, print, woodblock print

April Vollmer’s Guardian Spider

April is currently working on her soon-to-be published book, called the Japanese Woodblock Workshop.

Please peruse through a few of the prints I saw during the conference.  Printmaker, Ms. Yoonmi Nam, who teaches at the University of Kansas, wrote an excellent summary of the conference and posted it in Printeresting.  Click links to read and see her super photos of the art and the artists at the conference.

mokuhanga, shoji miyamoto

mokuhanga

 

mokuhanga, woodblock print, woodcut

Many moons ago, on a few occasions, we were lucky to have Chuck Lathrop visit Paper Connection.  Back then, Chuck Lathrop lived in nearby Massachusetts and was part of the Monotype Guild of New England.  Chuck exposed us to his brave approach to  print on ANY surface, resulting in cutting-edge, bold and abstract prints, and we exposed him to traditional, Japanese, fine art  papers or washi.

A few years ago,  Chuck left our area to start his own studio in the sunny Southwest.  Let’s talk to Chuck and find out his opinion on paper, and the situation with his own handmade paper with dryer lint!  Chuck is never shied away from trying new surfaces; coffee filters, and yes, even dryer lint paper.

coffee filters, beeswax, encaustic

74 Days in the Life of the Artist as Measured in Coffee Filters (used coffee filters, beeswax)

PCI: Please tell us about what you do.

CL: Over the last 35 years my work has included printmaking, painting, mixed-media drawings and objects. The landscape has always had a huge influence on my work. At first it was through direct observation or photos, but today I work from within relying on memory, impressions, andemotion to create abstractions. Automatic mark-making is a huge part of my work as well.

PCI: Who has inspired you?

CL: My artistic influences are varied and too numerous to cite individually. Paul Cezanne and Robert Motherwell standout because my introduction to them coincided with huge changes in my style and motif.  Today, there are many contemporary artists I draw inspiration from.

PCI: What attracts you to working with paper?  What do you like best about working with it?

CL: Paper is probably one of the most versatile substrates available to artists and I have enjoyed pushing it to its limits.

West Mesa (Large) mixed media drawing on Kozo

West Mesa (Large)
mixed media drawing on Kozo

 

PCI: How did you hear about our company?

CL: I was introduced to Paper Connection International through the Monotype Guild of New England when Lauren Pearlman invited MGNE members to come to PCI’s office (showroom/warehouse) to talk about Japanese paper.

PCI: How much knowledge did you have about Japanese papers before using ours?  How did we help?

CL: Until my introduction to PCI I had only used Western paper and my knowledge of Japanese paper was very limited. What my association with Lauren and PCI did for me was to expose me to a lot more possibilities regarding paper.

PCI: What papers do you use of ours and for what process? What did you like about those papers that aided in your creative and/or technical process?

CL: Kumohada Unryushi, (now a limited edition paper), and the various weights of Kozo are the ones I use the most frequently.  I use the Kozo for monotypes and woodcuts. The Kumohada is utilized for collagraphs and painting. Some of the work on these papers I have mounted to panel and used as a basis for encaustic work.  (Please see image below of When the Rhythm Sections Floats I Float Too, encaustic on  reduction woodcut on panel).

Untitled, monoprint, using Kumohoda Unryushi paper

Untitled, monoprint, using Kumohoda Unryushi paper

PCI: We are learning much about how our papers react to the encaustic process, and we’d love more of your feedback as we are novices to the application.

When the Rhythm Section Floats I Float Too encaustic on reduction woodcut on panel

When the Rhythm Section Floats I Float Too
encaustic on reduction woodcut on panel

PCI: We’re reminded of your visit and how laundry lint inspired you?

CL: As I remember it I was learning how make paper with scraps of museum board, something of which I generally have a quite a bit of in the studio. In my research I ran across a reference to someone using dryer lint. Made sense to me since some Western papers were made from cotton rags hence term “rag paper”.  I collected a bunch of lint from the dryer and one day when I was creating paper from museum board I threw some of the lint into the mix towards the end of the day’s session. Consequently the first sheet had a little paper pulp which yielded a light blue-gray and the last sheets had no paper pulp and came out a dark blue-gray.  Though I still have some sheets of the paper (both from museum board and lint), I created at the time (the late 1990’s), and still work with it on occasion, I found the paper was weak and easily tore when I didn’t want it to tear.  Given that I now live the Southwest and water supply is always an issue, especially during the current drought we are in, and the fact that any kind of paper making takes a large amount of water, I probably won’t be making any more paper.

PCI: We commend your awareness and responsible action. What is your experience as far as the strength of Japanese papers versus Western papers?

CL:  I prefer Western paper when I create paintings and mixed drawings, but for printmaking I prefer the Japanese papers. The Japanese papers don’t hold up well with my painting techniques and tend to fur-up when I draw on them. On the other hand I appreciate the quality of the Japanese papers when I’m making prints because there is a beautiful difference on how they receive the ink regardless of the strength.  I don’t think Eastern paper is necessarily stronger than Western paper. A paper’s strength is largely dependent on the length of its fibers and what it is made of.  I suspect some of the Eastern papers maybe stronger, but on the other hand, I would also guess some of the Western papers might be stronger.  Other issues in this discussion are the questions: What will the paper used for? Will it be dampened or soaked? How absorbent is the paper dry or wet?

PCI: Those are all very good questions that one should ask before purchasing paper.  Our famous bonus question: If you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be? And would you talk about paper?

CL: Yikes! There are so many I would like to have a conversation with that if I had the chance I would gather them around a table, if a large enough one could be found, just to talk about art.

PCI: We’ll provide the drinks!

For more on Chuck Lathrop, please visit his website: http://www.chucklathrop.com.  Chuck has recently established an online journal: www.nmartreview.com.  We enjoyed the discussion, “On Serious Art.”

An upcoming show at the Downtown Contemporary Gallery, in Albuquerque, NM, will feature Chuck along with other printmakers.  The show opens May 30th. If you are in the Albuquerque area then please go!