Archives for category: New York

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.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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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

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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.

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.

That would be Yasuyo Tanaka, who by her printmaking, has moved many to a cause worthy of attention.

Her search for the meaning of our existence has led to her to work with Palestinian refugees.  Soon Ms. Tanaka will be heading to the Middle East, with her prints, artist books and passion in tow.  She not only plans to have a show of her own artwork, but she will be teaching a book arts workshop to displaced, Palestinian families, with the intention of projecting a sense of “home”,  through having students make a meaningful art piece as a family.

I am amazed at her courage and dedication to expressing such a deep issue using  paper.  Let’s continue to support artists who give not only their best in technique, but their utmost in an honest quest for humanity.

See Yasuyo’s video with the Kickstarter program:

Yasuyo Tanaka's Portfolio Workshop

Do you know how to find out the grain direction of a piece of paper?  Try bending it carefully from the long side or the short side.  When you determine which way was easiest to bend, you found the grain direction.

Why do you need to know the grain direction?

When you are making a book or book cover, it’s preferable to have the grain vertical with the spine and the grain of your paper going in the same direction as your board.  This will help prevent your book/box/portfolio from warping, and the pages from curling.

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about my friend Yasuyo Tanaka and her first solo show here in Japan.   I spent 3 days with her,  her art and delightful artist friends up in Tochigi Prefecture. Without a doubt it was the highlight of my time here in Japan.  Yasuyo’s work is superb, her workshops so informative and her enthusiasm and energy to teach, learn and live is deeply impressive.

The photo below shows the back wall of the Gallery in the Blue covered with her collagraph “grid” prints. 

Below a photo of Workshop Day 1;  Yasuyo explaining grain direction at the beginning of her suminagashi workshop in the Gallery in the Blue.

See more.

Looking forward to this weekend, where I’ll be in a room full of art lovers, paper artists and probably some fellow paper junkies.

My talented friend, Yasuyo Tanaka, has returned to Japan for her show in Utsunomiya, Tochigi Prefecture.  The show is called “Transformation-questioning myself“.  The Manhattan based Japanese weekly newspaper called NYSeikatsu, -“NY daily life”, published Ms. Tanaka’s October 9th interview (see pages 19-20 of NYSeikatsu) .  The interview was done in NYC, where she resides.  This is her first solo show in Japan, so she’s pretty excited… I too am excited about her self-transformation via art.   If you can make it there, you can make it anywhere, right?  I am very lucky to experience the real thing, October 23rd at Gallery in the Blue in Utsunomiya City.  For all you readers stateside, check out her beautiful work:

Transformation by Yasuyo Tanaka

May is a great time to head to the city.  The weather was perfect last week- dry, sunny.     Here’s the May sky at Lexington around 30th Street.

Was in NYC for a networking event called “Rock the World”  sponsored by the on-line, woman’s entrepreneur group called Savor the Success, with my RI associate, Joan M. from Cicione Studios.

May 5th: Lisa Price, Poppy King and Taryn Rose; the experienced business women who spoke in the morning, were a great inspiration; each one with a “in the beginning”  or ” in my garage”  story to relay.

Lisa Price from Carol's Daughter

Poppy King-small blond on right

The real-life interactions between on-line  networkers was no less than fascinating.  Things got REAL exciting, in the afternoon,  when Michael Gerber, author of the E-Myth, generously spoke about his long life experiences, slowly yanking off the audience’s business-blinders; blinders which we “wear” tightly wrapped around our cluttered, little  heads, in order to bring us back to the here and now of REALity…  Mr. Gerber is  a very present, grounded individual indeed.

Mid-May:

Back to NYC for the Stationery Show at the Jacob Javits Center-will take photos if they allow it!

DONT FORGET TO SAVE THE DATE for our Paper & Fabric trunk show at 133 W. 25th Street (btw 6&7th above the Quilt Shop).   Luscious paper goods plus a yummy salad of fabrics and cute tees for sale from 10:30am -5pm, Thursday May 20th- wow! that’s already next week!