Archives for category: being green

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

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!

 

Her name evokes light, bright, warm light to me, and when you see her AMAZING works, (yes, that is all in CAPS for a reason), you will feel the same light too: paper transformed into creatures and works that come alive, and feel like they can float away, tempting you to put your fingers on them, feel the fiber that encases them, and even wear them.  Meet the one and only Joan Son.

I have had the privilege of giving 2 presentations with Joan Son and have been to her studio/residence several times in Houston, TX.  Joan is a most gracious host. I cherish her warmth, kindness and years of friendship.  Joan’s glowing personality is truly manifested in her incredible talent of transforming paper into life-like sculptures.

I hope you enjoy reading her perspective on paper as much as I did.

PCI: What kind of artwork do you do?  What or who has influenced and inspired you?

JS: I am an artist working in the medium of paper based in the discipline of origami. For the past 21, years since my debut in the windows of Tiffany & Co. (Houston Galleria), I have devoted my career to the exploration of contemporary origami as fine art. My art has developed into finely crafted gift items for museum shops beginning at the Smithsonian in 1995; larger commissioned works for public and private venues and origami instruction nationally at Origami Conventions and in Houston at numerous educational facilities.

Bamboo

Bamboo

PCI: What attracts you to working with paper?

JS: I have always loved paper. My first love was designing paper doll dresses when I was 9 years old. So even my mother’s typing paper, lined school papers and tissue paper were attractive to me from very early on. I was totally intrigued making carnation like flowers with tissue paper. Even now when paper towels or napkins are on my grocery list I get excited wondering what patterns will be available. The commercial stuff is always changing.

zooslide

PCI: What do you like best about working with paper? I’m so curious as you have such a literal hands-on approach.

JS: I like to say that paper is sculptable and forgiving. I love that about paper. It works into to all of my art pieces. It is much more durable that most folks think.

PCI: I love the choice of words “forgiving” and “durable”, it’s almost like you are describing an amazing person.  Please share how we met.

JS:  Your wonderful papers were represented by a commercial paper company (Clampitt Paper in Houston, TX). Their representative gave me your contact information and I have been passionate about your papers through all your evolutions.  Since 1993 when I was working in a design firm, creating brochures, annual reports… and dabbling in my own creative process,  I’ve been using them for everything from butterfly pins, collage works, to 8-foot tall paper Kimonos.

PCI: Hopefully I’ve been evolving in a progressive way! And our papers reflect that.  We are so happy that we have such a long-term solid relationship.  It’s reliable artists like yourself that help small business keep going.  Did you have much knowledge about Japanese papers before using our line?

JS: Very, very little… only Origami papers.

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

JS: In every way. You and I did a presentation together for Texas Art Supply here in Houston a few years ago. It was fascinating to see and hear about your travels in Asia and all the details and nuances of these exquisite papers.

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?

JS: Japanese Yuzen and Katazome paper are delicious, the Laurelai design papers, (see the Yoga Garden Robe), are fun and add a distinct personality to my designs. Looking through the catalog now I see there are so many more I still have to work with. I can hardly wait! I use your papers for many of my collage pieces, origami pieces and display.

paper sculpture

Yoga Garden Robe by Joan Son, using several of the Laurelai papers

The Robe Series by Joan Son

The Robe Series by Joan Son

PCI: What are some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with?

JS: Paper Connection always has the highest quality papers.

PCI: Thank you so much! We really try to represent the best in handmade papers for those like yourself who truly appreciate them.  Word game for you: fill in the blank, if you had to recommend a Paper Connection paper for a particular application:

JS: I like Daitoku papers for their simple gold touches and natural beauty.  Plus they have saved my life on two projects where I needed a very large sheet. These measure 37 x 72 inches. Perfect!

bookmarks, Laurelai Designs

Laurelai bookmarks by Joan Son

money holders, business card holders

Joan loves the Laurelai papers for many things, including bookmarks and wallets.

PCI:  That paper is an oldie but goodie.  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?

JS: PATTI SMITH. As I strive to make my work more deeply meaningful first to myself and that it be illuminating for others… this veteran rock and roll artist transcends all levels for me. She continues to inform our world with her tenderness and fury.  And that she continues to evolve her art into all the years of her life. I think the conversation of paper would come up easily with Patti. I’m sure we would be tearing it or making it into butterflies right away.

PCI: Yes! A musician! To say the least. A poet. You surely would. Can I dance along? Thank you Joan, for all you do for Paper Connection and the paper world.

Check out this BIG NEWS for Joan!  She opens a new body of work in Houston at the Jung Center Gallery in April 2014.  We have included the Press Release:

TIME TRAVELERS
looking back to move forward
a retrospective
a coming full circle
a beginning

When:  Opening night Saturday April 5, 2014

Where: Jung Center Gallery 
5200 Montrose, Houston, Texas 77006
Time: 5:00 to 7:00

On view through April 29, 2014

If you are in the Houston we highly recommend you attend. We wish we could be there ourselves.

Joan Son is an American artist who has devoted her career to the exploration of contemporary origami as fine art.

Now, through an Individual Artist Grant from the city of Houston through the Houston Arts Alliance, she shows a side of herself that has been hiding for 50 years.
TIME TRAVELERS brings her art full circle with paper doll dress designs she created when she was 9 years old. From these early paintings (that luckily her mother saved!) Joan is constructing full size paper dresses that will be displayed on lighted 6 foot plexiglass cylinders suggesting portals of time. Her story is inspired by this quote from Carl Jung…
“What did you do as a child that made the hours pass like minutes? Herein lies the key to your earthly pursuits.”
Joan raised additional funds through her Kickstarter campaign and may be best known for her origami art that debuted in the windows of Tiffany & Co. in 1993. During the past 21 years she has developed her art as gift pieces for museum shops around the country beginning with the Smithsonian in 1995, been commissioned for larger art works both public and private and worked as an instructor of origami nationally and locally.

Much more of the story here on Kickstarter…

I had an interesting time reading the answers to this month’s AOM, as Mr. Francis Schanberger marries paper, beautiful, handmade, warm, organic paper, with photography. Photography: some may loosely think of it as an offshoot in the world of fine arts, with its glory days of dramtic black and white footage, whether a dashing Avedon model, or an Arbus character staring back at you inviting your comments, your questions, your curiosity.  And now we have our phones, of course. Camera lenses, on our phones or the latest SLR do not seem to be remotely related to the paper world, nor can you use your camera as a tool to imprint your image directly on paper, (or can you)?  Nevertheless, the two worlds seem to be on opposite sides of the arts timetable: digital, fast, the science of light and time, with paper, handmade, hands-on techniques, whether using a brush or a press.  So, onward to Francis, who gives us a lesson in chemistry + photography + paper, and the methods are intriguing, as one artist’s vision grows with each sheet of the ever trustworthy washi, or Japanese paper.

PCI: So, tell us a little bit about your work, Francis, and your inspiration.

FS: Describing the kind of work that I do used to be such an easy question. I am trained as a photographer but have pushed back against established ways of showing work. In the photographic world, images were for many years presented in white mats and black frames. Presenting work is more fluid now, but that initial rebellion continues in my avoidance of the inkjet print or the “publish on demand” photo book. Printmakers, painters, and installation artists have influenced me. It is stand alone photographs sometimes complimented with photographic installation. Lately I have been creating ephemeral photograms (camera-less images) using clothing and plant pigments.

Alternative photo process,

Pirate Chic, by Francis Schanberger

PCI: That process is fascinating. Watch the VIDEO HERE.  What do you like about working with paper?

FS: Paper continually reminds me that I am making something.  Specifically, the handmade papers create a tension between photographic image and photographic object.  By tension I mean to suggest an awareness of the power of photography to exist as a simulation of reality and as a real, stand alone, tactile thing.  Paper has mass, volume, memory, texture and sound qualities.  Related to vision, it can pass light through itself and block it.

PCI: Papers definitely have their own sounds, as well as smells, in a good way, of course.     How did you hear about our company?

FS: One of my favorite papers, a heavy weight Kozo Unryu, was encountered by chance in preparing for two different assignments in an alternative photography class I was teaching. I had found a paper to use in a demonstration of creating handmade artist’s books. I had extra paper left over and decided to try out chemistry for the students’ next project Vandyke Brown prints. This is a historical photographic process that uses iron and sliver in tandem to print out an image before it is even developed.  The combination of paper and chemistry did something I never expected.  Instead of immediately soaking in, as I have experienced with unsized papers, it gave me time to brush it on, eventually being absorbed by the outer most layers of the paper.   After processing, I noticed that it yielded a very dense brown color somewhat hard to achieve in the Vandyke Brown (kallitype) process.

When I first moved to Dayton, Ohio there was a wonderful art supply store on the west side of town called McCallister’s. They went out of business in 2009, shortly after I began working with the Kozo Unryu papers they had stocked. One of these was the paper I had used for the book assignment. I searched online for paper suppliers who might carry the identical paper.  After replying to my email queries and after mailing a sample to Rhode Island, Paper Connection International identified the paper I was using and was able to ship it to the Midwest.

Winged Seeds, by Francis Schanberge

Winged Seeds, by Francis Schanberger

PCI: Did you have much knowledge about Japanese papers before using our papers? How did Paper Connection help you navigate through the wonderful world of washi?

FS: Paper Connection provided my first real education on Japanese papers. I had no idea the paper I had been using was considered a heavy weight and the ability to work with larger quantities of this paper helped me to learn how the Kozo responded to humidity, pH during processing, and how much chemistry I could apply to the paper surface.  The paper has a very pronounced texture because of the Unryu (long fibers embedded in the paper).  I began to select subject matter that would benefit and not compete with the surface.

platinum print, alternative photo process, mino washi

Two Gingkos, by Francis Schanberger

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? Describe some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with?

FS: Currently I use Japanese papers for historical photographic printing done in Vandyke Brown and Platinum / Palladium.  I have used three different papers from Paper Connection. The Kozo Unryu HW in both a brushed and unbrushed surface and a Kozo paper with no Unryu texture and hardly any sizing.  I do prefer the sized paper because they allow me to brush on the emulsion over a hard table surface. However, last May I was asked to try out a brand new paper made in Ino, Japan that was a combination of Kozo and Gampi with no internal sizing. The paper is extremely thin weighing in at 30 g/sm. I had to learn to apply the light sensitive emulsion with the paper placed over a piece of felted wool.  I am warming up to the new paper but the photochemistry it was designed for is pricey which limits my ability to print with it.

PCI: What paper of ours would you recommend for the various methods you employ in your work?

FS: I like the Kozo Unryu Heavy Weight paper for Vandyke Brown printing because it works really well with my style of brushing on light-sensitive emulsion and it has a terrific wet strength.

PCI: And, of course, which artist would you like to have a nice sit down and chat with? And does paper fit in somehow?

FS: If I could have a conversation with any artist present or past it would be pictorialist photographer Jane Reece. I would talk about paper because she was known in her time as an expert in printing photographs on Japanese tissue.  Because of my involvement with the use of the paper from Ino (Kochi) Japan, I have become aware of the paper makers’ interest in early twentieth century photographers and their use of Japanese tissue. The paper makers of Ino are interested in whether the paper they have made bears any resemblance to the Japanese tissue of the early 1900’s. The only examples exist in museums in the United States.

PCI: Thank you so much, Francis. This has been enlightening, and your work exudes the warmth and texture paper provides, with the imagery that light creates with your vision.  Chemistry + photography + paper = beautiful.

Francis will be featured in an alternate venue during the upcoming Kyotographie in Kyoto this Spring:

COHJU gallery: Platinum Print / Alternative Process meets Tosahakkinshi April 26th– May 10th, 2014

This exhibition is a follow-up to an exhibition of three Japanese and two American photographers at the Ino-cho Paper Museum last September.  Francis along with these other artists all used the new paper and printed images in the Platinum Palladium process:

http://francisschanberger.com/section/373290_Tosa_Washi_Meets_Platinum_Palladium.html

To learn more about Francis, please visit his website and the following links:

francisschanberger.com

From Walking

Forces of Nature

DIY, upcycle, marbled paper, hand made, craft, containerHow about wrapping a simple empty cookie tin to pretty-up  your desk or kitchen storage, make a quick vase or gift?

After our last DIY tutorial, we felt ready to tackle wrapping a tin with some beautiful hand-made marbled lokta from Nepal to make a unique up-cycled object.

What you will need:

Frame supplies editTIN-1

Step One:

Cut down a piece of paper to the size of the tin, leaving about a 1/4 inch extra on the top and bottom and at least one inch added to the length.  Apply a coat of glue to the backside of the paper, and make sure you get all the edges.TIN-2Step Two:

Place the tin centered (vertically) on the paper leaving an extra 1/4 inch on the top and bottom to be folded over later.  Align the tin at one end of the paper and roll it slowly with two hands, smoothing the paper from the center out as you go.

TIN-3TIN-4

Step Three:

Pinch the extra paper around the edge of the tin on the top and bottom.  Cut out a circle big enough to cover exposed tin area on bottom and adhere cut circle with glue.  Burnish out any wrinkles and you’re done!

You can apply a clear coat of acrylic medium to the finished object to protect the surface, and add a slight sheen.  This will also make the colors appear more saturated.  You can also rub a clear wax candle (solid wax) to cover the paper to create a barrier, helping resist oil stains and fingerprints.TIN-5TIN-6

Our latest paperwoman, Ms. May Babcock, certainly has been busy these days.  She has now become a regular fixture at Providence’s AS220, teaching papermaking.  This long overdue class has been filled to capacity, with eager paper newbies ready to get their hands wet and minds inspired by May’s expertise.  Using sustainable fibers, May implements traditional yet easy-for-the-beginner papermaking with good, old-fashioned recycling.

CLEAN, green PAPER: story by a guest paper-blogger.

At a recent demonstration, held at Jean Winslow’s studio in Lowell, Massachusetts, May helped the eager crowd to turn to invasive species as a source of fiber for papermaking.  Think codium, an invasive seaweed that is in plentiful supply along our beautiful Atlantic coast.  The goopy water that May said resembled “salsa verde”, (we were thinking a thick miso broth with extra wakame too), soon had many hands agitating the shredded seaweed to equally balance its own density in the water. Then with one swift scoop at a 45 degree angle, we were all shuffling our seaweed across a small screen. Following May’s instructions of “opening and closing a door”, we removed our newly-formed sheet on pieces of felt and pelon, with a hinge-like move that closed the screen down on the felt, and opened it up again using the same side of the deckle from which we placed it down.  After rolling and squeezing the sheet, we then proudly dried it on a sheet of plexiglass.

So we were beginners, but looked with awe as we formed our papers and watched them dry.  As we brought our sheets home, we were excited to figure out how we would use this handmade sheet. My codium paper? Safely nestled on my bookshelf along with jars of collected shells from southern Rhode Island beaches…so I caved in to the nautical theme.  At least it’s with the hope of making some space for native seaweed species along Cape Cod, one sheet at a time.

See more of May’s papermaking adventures with local local fibers at May Babcock’s blog.

Carl Keck is a New England based artist who approached us out of the blue.  He is that one of a kind special customer who trusts our choices, accepts what paper we provide him before he even looks at it, never mind touches it, and transforms it into something that is entirely his own, without any fanfare.  A lot goes unspoken, but understood.  One day we may meet Carl in person, but in the meantime, we enjoy his generous amounts of prints he sends us, not just emails of images, but actual prints he mails, as well as some poetic emails we receive.  We actually featured Carl’s work a few blogs ago, and although it showcased his wonderful and prodigious talents, we did not have the opportunity to ask Carl personally his take on the paper he uses, his work, and that parallel world where Rembrandt meets Paperwoman.  Here is our conversation.  Enjoy!

PCI:  How would you describe your work?

CK: Our world is what we perceive it to be.  Our experiences influence what we can and cannot see.  My art is about putting down as quickly and clearly as possible, those things I experience.  What I see around me sets off a cascade of thoughts and usually coalesces into an idea.  I try with all my heart to express that idea.  Since all thoughts are abstract when you try to think about them, my art, when it’s good, lies on that border where the things I see meet the thoughts that those things emote in me.  Paper, any paper, allows me to translate my inspirations quickly.  With woodblocks, it allows me to rapidly experiment with additions, color and textures.  I don’t want to lose the essence of what insight I may have to share.

Carl's woodblock on gampi, made the week of May 20th, 2013.

Carl’s woodblock on gampi, made the week of May 20th, 2013.

New print, May 23, 2013 .

New print, May 23, 2013 .

PCI: What attracts you to working with paper?  What do you like best about working with paper?
CK: Good paper, which for me is Japanese washi-especially vintage washi-somehow instructs my work.  It’s always closer to how I first imagined the work, when I use the best materials I can find.  At the same time, different papers want you to treat them individually.  It’s a pleasant challenge!  I make something everyday.  Art is a kind of continuous diary of what we’ve felt about what we’ve seen.  I do just about everything possible with paper: woodblocks, monotypes, watercolors, ink and wash paintings, and so on.  Often I mix processes together-whatever it takes to get the idea that’s in me out.
PCI: What inspires or influences you, Carl?
CK: There have been so many influences besides Nature herself.  I frequent museums a lot, especially the MET in Manhattan.  I go there to see the level of dedication great art shows.  I noticed that I was always attracted to paintings and sculptures that seem as if they were done in a few hurried moments.  I saw so much more when the artist had no time to smooth things over.  And this is most apparent in drawing and other works on paper.  Van Gogh’s reed ink drawings are so immediate.  Klee’s watercolors have something mysterious about them.  Degas’ pastels worked over monotypes, Redon and his flowers, Rembrandt’s etching-oh how he wiped his plates!  And Picasso-how he experiments still before our eyes.  I can go on and on.
PCI: How did you come to know Paper Connection? Were you familiar with Japanese papers in the past?
CK: I have been using Japanese washi for a good number of years.  Sources are few.  A good friend in Kyoto finds me vintage washi from the auctions she goes to.  Also I sometimes purchase directly from merchants in Japan.  However it’s expensive.  I searched the web for some of the paper makers I’ve used, and found Paper Connection.  So by mainly looking for well known paper makers and vintage washi.Work on Gampi made on the morning of May 16th, 2013.

PCI: How did we help you navigate through our extensive collection and your previous knowledge of washi?

CK:  A few years ago I contacted Paper Connection and was sent some papers: many decorative papers I rarely use, and some others which I gladly exhausted.  At that point I had to have more.

PCI: We are happy to hear that you liked our Fine Art paper samples.  What are some of the differences between our papers and others you  have worked with?
CK:  About paper, I can get used to any kind.  The better the quality, the easier it is to love and work with.  Once I get familiar with a paper, I instinctively call for it when a work requires it’s qualities.  Japanese washi is strong, thin, and honest.  It takes whatever manipulation I need from it, and the way it takes ink and pigment are predictable.  Though with vintage papers there is a quality of imperfect absorption which thrills me.
PCI:  What papers do you use of ours and for what process? What do you like about these papers that helps your creative and technical process?
CK: Just recently I received backed gampi from Paper Connection.  It has the sheen of gampi, which is usually thin tissue, yet has the backing to make it hardy for repeated printing.  A great innovation.  For delicate subjects it glows.  You experience the delicacy all over again just because of the paper type.  In tissue form its great to use when there is enough ink left on your block to take a second impression. Colors are soft and subtle, yet they are all there.

PCI: Our bonus question: if you could have a conversation with any artist, past or present, who would it be? And would you talk about paper?
CK:  I’d love to have a conversation with Rembrandt or Durer.  I’ve done literally a thousand self portraits and another thousand of my son.  Rembrandt did many.  We learned from him how to look deeply and frequently at our mortal predicament.  What a great gift are his paintings and works on paper.  And he used washi!  I’d thank him and ask about what it meant to grow old, how he kept his art flame so bright.  I’d ask him about the women he loved.  And if he’s ever heard of the Paper Women up in Rhode Island…

PCI: Wow, we’d love to be a fly on the wall for that one!  Carl, thank you so much. We really appreciate your insight, your support of washi, and of course, your work that you so generously share with us.

Hanji!

Hanji!

You knew we now stock hanji  at Paper Connection; right?  For all those who can’t wait to try this handmade, mulberry paper from Korea, we are happy to provide hanji in a vast array of colors.  We have been inspired and influenced by world renowned hanji artists, such as Ms. Jiyoung Chung , author of the book, Joomchi & Beyond, experts and Ms. Aimee Lee,  author of Hanji Unfurled.  Their passion and expertise has truly educated us in explaining the benefits of this paper to our eager customers.  Strong, handmade hanji can be wonderfully woven, tugged, and transformed into amazing sculptural pieces, from clothing to bowls, to fibrous, organic installations that take a life of their own.

Ms. Aimee Lee teaches hanji sheet formation, and other hanji paper arts. In fact, she is on her way back to Providence, RI to teach a workshop through Brown University’s Watts Program/JCB Library: Charles H. Watts II History and Culture of the Book Program,  this Saturday, April 13th, however, the workshop filled up immediately, there is a waiting list though; for your reference check out  this link .

In conjunction with the April 13, 2013 workshop provided by Ms. Aimee Lee, Paper Connection International‘s warehouse/showroom will be open from 10am-2pm on Saturday, April 13.  Since we are not open to the public, this is a great opportunity to obtain conservation-quality, 100% mulberry papers from Korea, or “hanji”.  Paper Connection is located at 166 Doyle Ave., 2nd Floor, Providence, RI (diagonally across from the East Side YMCA).  Parking available on left side of parking lot in front of building.  Call 401.454.1436 for more information.

March has been a very busy month for us.  We have been planning for the upcoming Southern Graphics Conference, a printmaking love fest that this year is being held in Milwaukee.  So printmaking methods have been in our minds, maybe a bit too much. What papers are best for lithos? Is gampi good for chine colle? , etc. (The answer, by the way, is yes, yes and yes.)  However, to take a break from the wonderful world of printmaking, we turn our attention to a different, if not extraordinary application of our papers, by Arlene McGonagle.  We have known Arlene for many years; she is a very faithful, loyal supporter of Paper Connection. And we love her unique approach to transforming our sheets of papers into something three dimensional, and even poetic. We will let her explain.

Layered, by Arlene McGonagle

Layered

PCI: Tell us a little bit about yourself: What kind of artwork do you do?

AM: I make baskets – one of a kind sculptural baskets. I have been a traditional basket maker since 1980. I grew up on a produce farm in Hadley, Massachusetts. Baskets were part of our harvesting process in which our vegetables were all harvested using different basket styles. As a young person I was not aware of my passion for baskets, but I do believe growing up on a farm gave me the knowledge for the functional construction aspects of basket weaving.

PCI: What or who has influenced and inspired you?

AM: After making functional Nantucket and Shaker baskets for fifteen years I needed a methodology in which to become more creative in my personal form of expression. So I returned to college entering The University of Massachusetts at Dartmouth in the Fiber Arts and Textile Design Department for a Masters Degree. As a result my work and materials changed overnight. The Fiber Arts Department encouraged us to use different and unusual materials from barks to wire and everything in-between.

PCI: What attracts you to working with paper?

AM: The wide variety of texture in paper, I felt the more texture the better in the paper I use. The paper reminded me of the barks, woods, and reeds I had used in the traditional basketry process. However, the paper I chose was colorful with intricate designs and flexible without soaking it in water. It was also gentler on my hands and easier to weave.

PCI: That’s great, especially for your hands’ health too!  What do you like best about working with paper?

AM: For me it’s all about texture and color. I love the thick kyosei-shi paper because it reminds me of fabric. I have been working in neutral colors lately, but this paper allows me to go wild with color if the basket calls for color. I also love the mulberry, or kozo paper for its translucent and regal qualities. When words are written on this paper it adds a note of importance and strength.

PCI: How did you hear about our company?

AM: I had heard about Paper Connection for many years, but did not know it was open to the public. So I called one day and explained that I was a basket artist looking for special textured paper and made an appointment to stop in.

PCI: Simple enough. We love your initiative.  Did you have much knowledge about Japanese papers before using our papers?

AM:  I had no knowledge of Japanese papers whatsoever. I fell in love with the papers offered at Paper Connection and sometimes even designed the baskets around the available papers. I learned more about paper variety and function with each visit to Paper Connection. The vast knowledge of the staff and the wonderful stories Lauren would tell about the makers of the paper helped me to realize that the paper was almost sacred and that my designs had to live up to the value of the papers I purchased.

PCI: Wow. We’re so happy and grateful to hear that.  What a testimony to the artistry of the papermakers themselves!  What are some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with?

AM:  I seem to keep going back to Kyosei-shi for most of my basketwork. It is physically strong and with a wide variety of colors. However, I can buy it in off-white and dye in the colors I need. I don’t know if I could dye other papers in a water bath.

PCI: So to sum up?

AM: I like kyosei-shi paper because it is strong and textured like fabric for my baskets; it is flexible and does not tear when I weave it with wire.

Basket Book by Arlene McGonagle

Basket Book by Arlene McGonagle

PCI: Arlene, thank you so much.  We love your work, we appreciate how you use these wonderful papers, the motivation behind it, and your generous support over the many years.

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For more information about Arlene, please visit her website, Basket Sculpture.  Her studio is located in beautiful Warren, RI.  To read more about her work, Arlene was featured in the Fall 2012 issue of the National Basketry Organization.  Article courtesy of Arlene McGonagle.

Welcome to a new feature of Where is Paperwoman? Our Artist of the Month series focuses on an artist who not only loves paper, but implements it in his or her work to astonishing effect.  Of course, we may be biased that they use Paper Connection’s paper, but regardless, their vision, approach, and resulting work are most worthy to share with you, our dear readers. This month, we chat with Barbara Green, our neighbor, colleague, and friend.  She is an established artist, residing in Rhode Island by way of Germany, having attended school in Chicago and Ohio. Barbara is a longtime member of 19 on Paper, an organization of Rhode Island artists whose works are either of or on paper. She has shown in numerous galleries, museums, corporations, with her collections displayed at various universities, hospitals, and other institutions.

PCI: Tell us a little about yourself, Barbara; what kind of artwork do you do?

BG: Paint, watercolor, oil stick, paper for installations, weaving (shifu).

PCI: What or who has influenced and inspired you?BG: Paper as a medium; Sargent, Homer, Japanese scrolls and prints, contemporary fiber artists, and nature.

PCI: What attracts you to working with paper?

BG: The feel of paper in its various forms: wet, cut, or twisted.

PCI: Sounds wonderfully tactile. What do you like best about working with paper?

BG: Paper has the seemingly unending possibilities to create, from being a surface for painting to a sculptural medium.

PCI: How did you hear about our company?

BG: I was searching for special paper and I also heard about PCI from a friend.

PCI: Did you have much knowledge about Japanese papers before using our papers?

BG: No.

PCI: So how did Paper Connection help you choose and inform you about Japanese paper?

BG: Lauren Pearlman and the staff had great advice.

PCI: Thanks, we try our best! What papers do you use of ours and for what process?

BG:  I use sheets and rolls, depending what I am working on.

PCI: That’s right, I remember you purchasing a white striped, (sudare pattern), Lace paper roll and transformed it into a beautiful, graceful installation.

Barbara's use of Sudare, or striped, Lace paper.

Barbara’s use of Sudare, or striped, Lace paper.

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

BG:  The high quality, strength, and beautiful colors.

PCI: What are some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with?

BG: Western papers are designed for a specific purpose, like watercolor papers, printing.  Papers that PCI carries can be used in many ways, not only traditionally.

PCI: Good to know! Fill in the blank, if you had to recommend a specific PCI paper for a particular application, it would be…:

BG: I like your various kozo paper for strength because it is very versatile and comes in various weights and sizes, as well as colors.

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

BG: The National Treasure paper makers from Japan.  Definitely!

PCI: Certainly they would like to speak with you too; I would love to be a fly on the wall when that happens. Barbara, thank you so much for your time and sharing with us your insight into your work and paper.

Barbara Green

Barbara Green

To learn more about Barbara Green, please visit her website.  We love her Artist Statement:

“Paper is the support for an image, a construction, an impression. Color, whether watercolor, oilstick or printing ink, enhances the image. My work has been in series. It can be very realistic to abstract as well as sculptural. I am inspired by nature, color, space and materials themselves, such as fine Japanese paper.” B. L. Green

If you are interested in being featured for an upcoming “Artist of the Month”, please contact us at 401-454-1436. Thanks!