Have you ever considered yourself a superstar?  A paper star, at least?  I had the privilege of spending a week around the seasoned, paper legends as well as the new generation of  paper stars at the Watermarks Conference, (the 2012 meetings for both  Friends of Dard Hunter and IAPMA.) sponsored by and held at the Morgan Art Papermaking Consevatory & Educational Foundation, in Cleveland, Ohio.

When I booked this trip, I wondered, what can I do in Cleveland for one week besides make, eat and dream paper? I realized that Cleveland, has Lake Eerie, a seriously well-deserved local pride and die-hard fans of their sports teams. Since I was still a little jetlagged, and the pre-conference workshop I signed up for hadn’t started yet, my colleague said ” why don’t you go to the legendary Rock n’ Roll Hall of Fame?”  So I did.

Giant guitars outside of RRHF.

My reasons for going on this Cleveland Magical Mystery Tour, started becoming clearer while inside the RRHF.

Not only did I get to learn so much about the history of the Rock n’ Roll era, I was able to surround myself with (at least simulated versions of ) Rock Star Legends.  The RRHF primed me for the rest of the entire week when I got to hang out with the Rock Stars of Paper; paper gurus and paper masters from all over the globe all came together in Cleveland, Ohio!

Tim with Carolina Larrera. Carolina is not only a Tim Barrett groupie, but Paper Rock Star from Chile.

Who Wrote the Book of Love, I mean washi?! Premier paper legend and MacArther Grant recipient, Mr. Tim Barrett of the University of Iowa, Iowa City, IA did.  His many fans want to have their photos taken with Mr. Barrett; …dang, I didn’t get a good one of me with him!  tsk, tsk.

Asao Shimura mixes konnyaku with pigment.

There were so many Paper Rock Stars there...Mr. Asao Shimura who taught a 2-day workshop on konnyaku intaglio printing. Like waiting in line for tickets to the biggest concert of the year, I tenaciously waited for my spot in his class, and got it!  Asao hasn’t been stateside in years and he traveled from his home in the Philippines to teach in the US. I’ve been a fan for years, but finally got to meet him and take his workshop, with more of his fans.

Asao Shimura definitely marches to the beat of his own drummer, and we should thank him for it, as he trail-blazes in the world of paper arts, he teaches too, sharing his insight and skill with eager students.  He’s  a soul man of a paper culture…(I’ve got rhythm, but I AM asking for more  Paper Rock Star Fame!)

Aimee Lee: Young Paper Rock Star- crowd is starting to gather…

A fairly new talent in the group is Ms. Aimee Lee,  now an author of a new book: Hanji Unfurled, One Journey into Korean Papermaking,  I swear- when she walked into the room during my pre-conference workshop, a group of fans formed a circle around her; I heard “Aimee!, Aimee!” coming from the crowd.    I was an Aimee Lee groupie before even seeing her live.  I could catch on fairly quickly; I tried to blend in with group-playing the coy paperazzi.  I am still very much part of Aimee Lee’s fan club, and therefore so thrilled a host to her, while she’s in New England promoting her new book via artist’s talk, demo and workshop both in Boston, November 10th and Providence area, November 14th.

Blood, Sweat, and Tears, may be a RRHF inductee, but have no doubt, the vatman or vatwoman produces blood, sweat and tears on a daily basis, as they toil and create paper with their two hands, keeping the art of handmade paper true, pure, and alive-ensuring that Papermaking is Here to Stay!

At least at some level, I continue to aspire to Paper Rock Star status.  When asked: “do you make paper?” I reply: “not exactly, but I am an agent, a promoter, a paper Shake, rattle and roller and total groupie of the Dardos!”

Watermarks 2012 was more than about reuniting with friends and colleagues I haven’t seen years, and more than about discovering new Paper Rock Stars. It was a week of  Letting the Good Times Roll, a week of  re-inspiration to continue down The Long & Winding Road  to bring handmade paper to the likes of you.

My Cleveland experience was the necessary step towards attaining Hall of Fame status or at least a couple of my own fans..  I am now determined more than ever to create a (paper) hit in my hometown of Providence.  A really BIG hit.

Thank you Watermarks 2012 , the Morgan and Cleveland ,OHIO!: you keep on rockin’ me baby!

For more photos, check out our FACEBOOK page for the Watermarks album. Don’t forget to “like” us!

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