Archives for category: fiber arts

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.

SAMSUNG CSC20141217_15213120141217_152128

 

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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

IMG_5696

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

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

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.

SAMSUNG CSC

Photographs provided by Paperwoman and KCDF.

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

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 literally just stepped off the plane from one of the most beautiful places on Earth: Hawai’i.  Despite the need to be out from behind a desk, close to the lullaby of the ocean waves, still I couldn’t resist delving further into some traditional culture of the islands.  Little did I know this curiosity would lead to a quest on finding a local kapa artist and a lesson in ukulele.

Practically upon landing on Big Island, I immediately discovered an article in the Where series (wheretraveler.com) by Lynn Cook called The Kapa Chronicles, which included not only some kapa history, but also a written review and images of kapa maker Marie McDonald’s pieces as fine art, her recent exhibit at the Honolulu Academy of Arts.  I decided I had to meet this woman, and I set out to find her or at least more information on her work.  How delighted I was to learn she resided in Waimea, only 12 miles from where I was staying!  This was my only but unbelievable chance to meet the kapa maker herself.  Before I embarked on my search for Ms. McDonald, however, I had a few things to learn during my visit.

Performing arts and fiber arts? Always a connection!

First, a brief lesson in ukulele, (click link twice to see video) where I “fell in love” with my young teachers Melissa, Lauren, Ryan and Eric; true, young geniuses at dance and all the traditional performing arts.   Then, a mini lesson in hula, but I noticed there were no signs of anyone wearing kapa; the bark cloth worn for hula in the past.  The art of kapa was almost lost in 1820 when the missionaries who came to Hawai’i introduced woven cloth and sewing circles.

Patterns printed on kapa are made with carved wooden sticks or anvils and natural dyes.Geometric Patterns examples for kapa (bark cloth).Geometric Patterns examples for kapa (bark cloth).

Kapa, generically known as tapa in Polynesian, is a cloth made out of bast fibers from bushes.

Front side of "Masi"; bark cloth from Fiji.

Front side of “Masi”; bark cloth from Fiji.

Back side of "Masi"; bark cloth from Fiji.

Back side of “Masi”; bark cloth from Fiji.

Used traditionally as loincloths and other garments, the kapa was handmade by women.  Did you know, however, that kapa is made out of kōzo; fiber from the paper mulberry bush? Called wauke in Hawai’ian, parallel to the kōzo fiber used in Japan for washi, wauke is cultivated to make kapa cloth traditionally used for hula.  These days, artists create modern patterns on their own, homegrown, homemade kapa cloth.  It is interesting to note that the paper mulberry’s bast fibers make their appearance in various, functional fiber arts found across the globe.

My quest to meet Marie, the kapa artist:

I drove to Waimea and inquired at the local Gallery of Great Things, which carried both Marie’s kapa work as well as her daughter’s. “How could I meet the great Marie McDonald?”  I was informed at least her daughter Roen would be at the Farmer’s Market on Saturday selling kapa.  Saturday, I again made my way to  Waimea Town to the  Farmer’s Market.  Unfortunately, I did not catch up with either mother or daughter, but I was so close!

These photos of mother and daughter were taken in 2010, by http://www.damontucker.com in 2010.

Marie McDonald

Marie McDonald

Marie McDonald, who is 87 years young this year, is a native Hawai’ian who intends to pass on her wealth of knowledge on traditional arts to future generations, along with her daughter, Roen McDonald Hufford.  These are very special farmers, as they grow their own “art materials” to create their art.  They have long been living sustainably before the word became fashionable.

Roen McDonald Hufford

Roen McDonald Hufford

Marie has taught traditional Hawai’ian culture for decades in schools.  She is a scholar in this realm and a true kumu (teacher)  of her culture. She is author of an important book on lei-making called, Ka Lei:The Leis of Hawaii (1985) , and a newer book on  leis, with astounding photography called Na Lei Makamae: The Treasured Lei (2003). I have now learned that mother and daughter teach traditional Hawai’an arts via the Hawai’i Prep Academy, where I must visit next time for sure!

Here are some leis I saw at the farmer’s market in Waimea.homegrown, handmade leis

Here are examples of Marie McDonald’s kapa work:

Dancers wear kapa as they perform; scenes from the Merrie Monarch Festival  from Lynn Cook’s article.

Hula_Kapa1Hula_Kapa2

The Big Island Beckons: The kōzo, kapa and HULA connection is calling me back to the Big Island.  Hopefully it will be very soon, so I may have the honor of meeting Marie McDonald, her daughter, and their many students.  There is much to discuss, learn, and share, but in the meantime, here is my offering of what a little curiosity on vacation can do for you.

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.

u17

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!

2012 over!?!  That was amazingly quick. I guess I do spend much of my time on the road and it is clear traveling or rather “not being home” speeds up time!

To switch things up in my dual-life pattern, I spent the fall of 2012 in the East Coast of the US for a change.  First DC, then Cleveland (noted in the previous blog.  Early November started with a bang, with one the best Paper Connection Annual Holiday Warehouse sales ever!  Then, more excitement by mid-November, as my staff and I organized a 4-day visit from a Paper Rock Star guest-Ms. Aimee Lee in Providence, RI.  We had an awesome turn out for Ms. Lee’s hanji talk, demo and new book signing: Hanji Unfurled.  After Ms. Lee’s successful visit to Rhode Island, I got to enjoy a “real” Thanksgiving with relatives, turkey and pies; it had been many years!  Surely a day to recognize all that we have and all that we have in abundance.  November, 2012 was certainly packed full with a cornucopia of accomplishments; I am very thankful, no matter what month it is.

Gloucester, RI Nov. 22.2012

Gloucester, RI Nov. 22.2012

Pies Nov. 22, 2012

Pies Nov. 22, 2012

By December, 2012, my suitcase was re-packed, and currently I am back on the other side of the globe. Since I’ll be on the road again shortly; heading to Seoul next week, I thought I would turn to TWO past abundant Novembers.  Reflecting back as time springs forward.

November, 2011: Journeyed north to Tokohu- the Northeast of Japan: For several reasons, this voyage to Tohoku was quite meaningful, especially post the March 11, 2011 disasters. The main goal was to check on my very good friend, who had moved back to the Tohoku area on March 1, 2011, I hadn’t seen her family since 1986.  My friend warned me that all the coastal places we visited in 1986 “ARE GONE”, she wrote days after the tsunami hit. Another reason for going to Tohoku was to get a sense of the general post 3.11 feeling of the Tohoku survivors, where so many mingei-folk arts are/were born. The bonus of this trip was visiting with Mr. Koichi Odanaka at his studio.  It was my privilege to meet Mr. Keisuke Serizawa’s last apprentice.  I thoroughly enjoyed the back stories Mr. Odanaka told of his life with Mr. and Mrs. Serizawa in Tokyo. So it was a gratifying trip- educational and moving at the same time.Odanakas Work

Odanaka’s work is truly irresistible.  Although, it’s not something I stock at this point, I would like to support as many artists as possible in the Tohoku region of Japan.  Let me know if you’re interested in any of his work; I’ll see what I can do!   Here are a few of his stenciled items I purchased: calendar and textiles.

November, 2010: Traveled, by plane, to Toyama-ken for the first time ever.

Fuji from the plane.

Fuji from the plane.

Old Town of Yatsuo

Old Town of Yatsuo

For centuries Toyama was known as the main pharmaceutical producing area of Japan.  Back before plastic bottles with cotton stuffing, all medicines were wrapped with washi. The area was previously known as “Etchu” so the paper from the area is called “Etchu Washi”.

washi bags& wrappers for medicines

washi bags & wrappers for medicines

Of course, the need for washi dropped off with the invention of new packaging, but a young Mr. Yoshida, moved back to his hometown of Yatsuo, giving up a city life and a city job to start a washi-making mill in the small, well-preserved town of Yatsuo, not too far from Toyama City. Mr. Yoshida knew he had to make paper for new uses, so he decided to make kozo paper for artwork.  Mr. Yoshida befriended the katazome master himself, Mr. Keisuke Serizawa, while he was working up at Ogawamachi in Saitama, making his own paper for his stencil work.  Mr. Yoshida convinced Mr. Serizawa to try some Yatsuo paper (Etchu Washi) for his stencil work.  From that point forward, Mr. Serizawa used the kozo paper made at Mr. Yoshida’s newly fashioned mill.  FormingBlackKozosheetsIt was a start of what would become a long business relationship and friendship.  Both the Yoshidas and the Serizawa’s had a deep connection with mingei and both had the passion to carry the tradition of washi and katazome into the future.  Currently, the next generation of the Yoshida family run a paper shop, mill and incredible folk art museum, which houses the collection of the Yoshida parents.  Thanks to the friendship between the Yoshida family and the Serizawa family, this Yatsuo operation called Keijyusha continues to produce decorated katazome papers, stationery items and collectible calendars employing Serizawa’s original stencils.Lookforthesign

kakishibu paper "rug"

kakishibu paper “rug” in Museum.

There are still a few 2013 Serizawa desk calendars for sale at Paper Connection and many beautiful items in stock and for sale from this precious operation in Yatsuo.  Please call us or email us for more information.SerizawaProducts

Serizawa Calendars and Serizawa stencil biz card holders. etc.

Serizawa Calendars and Serizawa stencil biz card holders. etc.

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!

Korea claims a unique and intriguing art called joomchi.

How do you go about making joomchi?  It’s easier to try with your own hands than to explain in words…but here it goes.  This is my beginner’s understanding of the process: At least 2 layers of Korean mulberry paper, or hanji, are first wet, then, aggressively gripped, grabbed, stretched, and manipulated until the fibers are broken down and almost “felted” to your liking.  Hours of aggravating the paper are expended, while possibly years of angst is relieved.  A major transformation occurs; once flat sheets of paper become a very organic, leather-like, almost living form.

No adhesives are used, however, natural dyes, pigments, other papers, fibers, and cloth can be “collaged” in to create a very special mixed media paper art.

We learned that Japanese mulberry paper (kozo) works fine for making joomchi, as our colleague Barbara Green tested it.  She used Paper Connection’s senkashi (a heavy weight un-dyed kozo paper, traditionally used for clothing) and some vintage, pigmented kozo.

I finally made it to the nearby Atrium Gallery in Providence to see one of their latest shows:  Joomchi and Beyond, curated by Ms. Jiyoung Chung.  I blogged briefly about Ms. Chung and her exhibit at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts, last June, 2011.   Subsequently, I was lucky enough to attend her workshop early spring 2012.  Many of the works shown at the Atrium are part of Ms. Chung’s fantastic book also entitled Joomchi and Beyond.

Please see Jiyoung’s book for photos of her method and process. She is a great teacher.   For more photos of the show, click here.

Another artist who works with hanji and creates joomchi is Aimee Lee.

I am this wall, 2009, by Aimee Lee

It is truly amazing when you think that no adhesives are used, and all the papers are transformed by hand technique alone.

I love this use of natural persimmon juice by Aimee:

The squirrels arrived first, 2012, Aimee Lee, natural persimmon dye, hanji, paper yarn

Ms. Lee is just out with her new book  Hanji Unfurled, which details her research and works on hanji.

Can’t wait to meet her in 2 weeks at the Morgan!

Aimee is also planning a book signing tour in New England in November, thus I’m hoping she will come to Providence and Paper Connection, of course!

Who’s in for meeting Aimee Lee and talking paper?!?!