Archives for category: Japan

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

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

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper

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

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

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

3_C_Aaron_EchoIII

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

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

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, Remnant

Remnant

PCI: What attracts you to working with paper?

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

Tree Muse II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper

Pulling Large Format Print

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

PCI: How did we help?

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

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

christine aaron, printmaker, encaustic, usuyou gampi paper

Hand Transfer

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

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

Murmur

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

Murmur detail

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

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

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

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

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

PCI: Thank you!

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

5_C_Aaron_Forest Muse

Muse

8_C_Aaron_RedArches

Red Arches

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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

What is “mokuhanga“?

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

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

baren, mokuhanga, printmaking

Barens and Brushes

Special veneer woodblocks

Special veneer woodblocks

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

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

Hokusai, wave, ukiyo-e,taganoura

Hokusai’s The Great Wave off Kanagawa

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

Kuniyoshi’s One Hundred Horrible Stories

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

Our booth

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

mokuhanga papers, sized kouzo, kozo,

Paper Connection’s Mokuhanga Swatch Portfolio

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

 

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

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

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

The Pool, by Elspeth Lamb

The Pool, by Elspeth Lamb

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

April Vollmer, mokuhanga, print, woodblock print

April Vollmer’s Guardian Spider

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

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

mokuhanga, shoji miyamoto

mokuhanga

 

mokuhanga, woodblock print, woodcut

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

You could say “I am my mother’s daughter”  in my love of folk art  and ephemera… apparently!  My mother’s collection through the years has inspired me to not only start my own collection, but to keep up with hers.  Although not technically folk art, she had amassed a collection of vintage Japanese wrapping papers and packaging.  “Vintage”, meaning, not from 1992, or (click here to see our sister shop on Esty) retro-looking replicas, but literally, “vintage”;4-5 decades oldwhich was stored away in the corner of her attic, waiting for her next mixed media collage.

Here are some of the many sheets I pored through, pondering if I could use them in my own artwork.  For now I will just add them to my personal ephemera collection.

See more at our flickr here.

September brings us back to school, back to a regular routine, and maybe a case of summertime blues? In case you need some motivation to return to your classes, whether it be teaching or attending, here’s an interview with our Artist of the Month, Kumi Korf.  Kumi has been a longtime customer, who faithfully orders her go to paper from us: Akatosashi.  This aged kozo paper has a bit of “aka” or a red hue to it, reflecting the maturity of the fiber.  And perhaps it takes an experienced hand to work with it.  Instead of widely experimenting with our many grades of kozo,  Ms. Korf loyally stands by this paper.  She knows exactly what she wants, and when she calls, we know to get her usual supply ready.  Of course, it’s not the only paper from us she has worked with, but we feel like Akatosashi is a trusted friend for her.  If you are an artist who likes your old “reliables”, you will enjoy her interview.  Or maybe you are starting off this semester unsure of what direction you want your work to go; Ms. Korf’s expertise can benefit you so you can aim your course wisely.

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

KK: My art work is mostly printmaking and artists’ books. I am in love with 20th century art and 17th century Japanese art.

kumi  kumi2

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

KK: Being Japanese, paper is the most familiar material next to wood, it being the most beautiful and handcrafted material ever. Paper demands a certain way of handling, and its relationship to water is special.  Touching paper is like meditation.  When I face paper, and prepare to work on it, with respect to paper and my craft, it returns what I expected and even more.

PCI: Could you elaborate more on the paper’s relationship to water?

KK: When one uses European paper, when it is wet, unless one uses a blotter and weight, it is not possible to keep it flat.  In washi’s (Japanese paper) case, air drying keeps the paper flat.  In my case, if I want the paper really smooth, I iron it.  It’s lightweight and thin, but when damp, I can safely peel the paper off the copper plate.  The washi’s long fiber is very useful and wonderful.

PCI: So interesting.  It’s sort of a paper urban myth that light weight and thin papers are not strong.  How did you hear about our company and paper?

KK: I met my paper in New York.

Akatosashi

New batch of handmade Akatosashi

PCI: We love how you call it your paper, like your own kin!  It’s been so long that we have known each other, which we appreciate!  We have a mutual colleague: Yasuyo Tanaka, which you two have known each other far longer than we have, but the Kozo connection can be small.  How long have you been working with washi?

KK: My knowledge of washi goes back to my childhood.  In Japanese everyday life, washi’s presence is everywhere: as part of screen doors, toilet paper, gift wrapping paper, calligraphy paper, sketchbooks, origami, etc., I must have made something with washi as a youth.  In the mid 1980s, I started to make my own kozo paper.  When I made my own paper, I made it as art by itself, but not paper for printmaking.

PCI:  For what process do you use this  aged kozo? What did you like about it that aided in your creative and/or technical process?

KK: I use Akatosashi for intaglio prints, because I like its color and finish.  It gives me the quality I like and the color I need.

"Radiation Swim, 2005". Spit-Bite and sugar-lift aquatint on Akatosashi.

“Radiation Swim, 2005”. Spit-Bite and sugar-lift aquatint on Akatosashi.

PCI:  Tell us more about the unique character of Akatosashi’s color, and why you like it.

KK: Akatosashi, as its name suggests, has that tint of reddish, brownish color.  I equate it as an “under painting” color for painting. I consider my prints as paintings more than etchings, so it is very useful.  What it does is that undertone unifies colors; I can count on that.

PCI: What a testimony to not only the papermaker but the amazing fiber as well!  In what ways did Paper Connection help navigate and perhaps inform you about our selection of Japanese paper?

KK: As a provider of washi for me, not only Akatosashi, but other washi for me, your service is appreciated always.

PCI: Thank you so much.  Likewise!  And of course, which artist(s)  would you like to have a conversation with? We know paper will be a topic!

KK: Rembrandt, Koetsu, Miro, and Matisse.

PCI: Fascinating group! That would be a discussion we’d like to eavesdrop on.  Rembrandt makes his appearance again.  Thank you so much, Kumi, not only for your time but your long time support.

Kumi Korf is represented by Chandler Fine Art in San Francisco. she also is a member of the Center for Book Arts in New York, where she has been teaching for many years, besides the San Francisco Center for Book Arts, and Ink Shop in Ithaca, New York.

For more on Kumi, please visit her website kumikorf.com.

Nancy is a recent customer of Paper Connection, and has graciously sent us photographs of her transforming Momi Kozo, or crinkled mulberry, to beautifully arranged flowers.  We thought we’d grab on to this hot off the press inspiration and ask her to be our Artist of the Month for June. Here is a different spin of the usual questionnaire, as Nancy contributed sans Q & A her insightful training, methods, and background.  Introducing Nancy, from South Carolina, in her own words:

“Watercolor paintings of flowers or still lifes is my usual involvement with fine paper, but when Japanese paper enters the conversation, there is an entirely different group of interests that emerge.  There is Japanese calligraphy, both kanji and hiragana.  Paper dolls, washi ningyo,  are another passion.   Fairly recently, paper flowers and foliage have become an interest.

As a very young girl, my favorite place to play was with a girl whose father worked for a printer.  She had a shelf full of all colors and textures of paper he had brought her.   It was very exciting!   At about the same time, paper dolls appeared, and caught and held my interest.   I still collect them, and made one for a little girl who was undergoing chemotherapy, and had lost her hair.   It was a wig paper doll, with fanciful and silly wigs to cheer up the child with their outlandish colors and designs.

Japanese paper was an exciting aspect of our stay in Japan.   While my husband worked, I attended classes, starting with “hari-e” or torn paper pictures.   There, I learned about different Japanese papers and their properties.   It was also my first experience with a “sensei” or teacher/master.   I decided to do a little improvisation with one of the designs, and before the glue had dried, the sensei stripped the paper off the board, and repositioned it in its proper place.   So much for creative ideas!  It had been a longtime ambition to learn calligraphy.  Every Saturday I  went to class, watched while the sensei remarked everyone’s calligraphy with brilliant orange ink, and went home with my assignment for the next week, using reams of calligraphy practice paper, trying to properly form shapes new to me.   Later, when some amount of proficiency had been attained, beautiful paper appeared, and shikishi (paper boards for artwork) arrived in boxes.   Always, the paper was perfectly suited to each purpose.

I have forgotten now how I became interested in Japanese paper dolls.  That is where I learned how paper could be manipulated, with such striking results.  Each doll was different, patterned after mostly historical types, and they began to accumulate with their colorful kimonos and fanciful hairdos.

In the 1980’s there were several paper stores in Hiroshima, a cool manufacturer in Kyoto, and a manufacturer in Tokyo.   I began to collect all the paper I could, knowing I could not possibly use all of it, but finding each new type or design more exciting than the one before.  Now the stores in Hiroshima are gone, but Paper Connection is stocked with fabulous papers from all over Asia, and the knowledgeable staff is most helpful.   I look forward to learning more about Japanese paper, and, most of all, adding to my collection.

The only paper I have ordered from Paper Connection so far is Momi Kozo.  It has long been a favorite paper because of the large, luminous color range, and great texture.   It has been invaluable for washi ningyo, and now, making paper flowers, it is very versatile and is light enough that two pieces can be glued together.   It is also very strong, and can absorb the rigors of twisting and bending, necessary in both washi ningyo and floral art.   Paper Connection has a large selection of Momi Kozo and I purchased one of every color.   I look forward to exploring more of paper Connection’s broad stock of exotic papers.

The artist I would dearly love to talk to is Isabelle de Borchgrave, a Belgian woman who specializes in creating life size historic costumes from many kinds of paper, including lens paper.   Her recent book, “Pulp Fashion” is a stunning display of her vision, talent, and appreciation for fine paper, and the extremes to which it can be pushed with some ingenuity.”

Nancy at work

Nancy at work

photo

Various papers lend to various textures.

Various papers lend to various textures.

Nancy, thank you so much for telling us about your background, your inspiration, and Isabelle de Borchgrave.  Your kindness to others is worthy of example, and we look forward to seeing more of your pieces.

Feast your eyes on more of Nancy’s work:

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.

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.