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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.

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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!

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washi warehouse, a set on Flickr.

Take a peek at what will be on sale this Saturday, November 3rd, at our annual WInter Warehouse Sale. Of course, there will be lots of paper too.We open at 10AM. See you there!

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I wanted to do this on an individual basis, but wasn’t sure how…so I just wanted to send a warm and sincere THANK YOU to all who are following this blog…it’s very encouraging!

I have always endeavored to champion those who keep the Japanese paper making methods alive. Sustaining the environment, the tradition, the culture, the paper arts, and so much more, it’s imperative for me to keep this mission going.  A year after the tragic earthquake in Japan, this mission has become even more important to me, because it involves not just a tradition, but people, families, livelihoods. We all make sure we do not take anything for granted: health, family, friends, loved ones, even staying warm on a chilly day. I’m sure you all feel the same way, and I know you show it.

Perhaps you may feel taking five minutes to read a blog about handmade paper doesn’t add up to much at the end of the day, but for me, it motivates me. It’s encouraging to know you appreciate the paperworld I journal…and I want to thank you for it. 

Warmest,

Lauren

 

Yes, attached they ARE- by artist Ealish Wilson, who created these beautiful pieces over the summer.

The strings in question are mizuhiki-wound paper ties. Thanks Ealish for sharing your work!

Paper Connection has a vintage stock of mizuhiki– as shown in this photo below.   Not shown in the website, so don’t hesitate to call if you’re interested.

Tenugui is a  “handy-wipe”, which Japanese carry with them for daily use. But, as you can see here, they are used in a variety of different ways; like as part of a costume for parade performers, as giftwrap for  presents, as wall art, as a sash or scarf.

These pretty little textiles we’re neatly tied around the heads of the dancers during the Koenji Festival parade, which I attended last month.
A natural progression from paper is of course, textiles.  As a collector of affordable art or folk arts, I’ve taken on tenugui as my new obsession. Tenugui are now for sale on papernado.com.

Just in these last 2 months, I’ve learned more details about how tenuguis are made….will explain in a future  blog.

Other scenes in the town of Koenji.

Traditional Clothing Store Selling Tenugui

Devil Roof Tile of Temple in Koenji

Here’s a little video to enjoy, recorded in Japan.  Just click on link below, taking you to our new vimeo account:

http://vimeo.com/35285571

 

 

I just came back from my first visit to Minneapolis/St. Paul, and participated in in the Surface Design Association Conference for the very first time.  The conference normally takes place in Kansas City, but this year it was in Minneapolis within the University of Minnesota East Campus.  Within the massive University of Minnesota campus there is the Textile Center, art galleries, like the Regis and even a Frank Gehry building.

Delving into the world of fiber arts was a bit of a side step for both me and Paper Connection.  I thought :  What’s “in”  in the fiber world? ; what the latest craze?… Around here in little Rhody,  the Weaver’s Guild members’ interests have been peaked with making shifu…touched upon in a recent blog.   See below. And over the years Paper Connection has had various fiber artist customers, who work mainly with paper- like  paper quilters.  Check out Lucinda Carlstrom‘s work; she’s phenomenal.  Only in the last couple months I have acquired a lovely book called “Paper Textiles”, by Christina Leitner.  Reading Ms. Leitner’s book plus some other fiber art books from Japan, encouraged me to think deeper and attempt to round out my paper knowledge with the story of paper as a textile.  Stitched, sewn, stapled or glued, for centuries paper has been made into cloth or has been part of textile.

Just last week, while at the SDA conference, I learned about joomchi– the Korean art of paper felting.  I can’t get enough of Jiyoung Chung‘s joomchi pieces.  Jiyoung lives in my town, Providence!, and she happened to be teaching at the SDA conference, and had her work exhibited at the Minnesota Center for Book Arts.  Too many coincidences.

MCBA Joomchi by Jiyoung Chung

Joomchi by Jiyoung Chung

Looking back to last week, I have to say the first day was truly the highlight of the trip to the Twin Cities.  Events planned for that first day was a staff meeting and evening presentation at Wet Paint: a very loyal, faithful, and consistent customer for years, located in St. Paul. Beth Bergman, the owner, and her wonderful staff was gracious to host me at the store, so I could introduce the techniques of hand-papermaking and paper textiles to a bunch of eager fiber artists via SDA conference, as well as to local, Wet Paint customers.  The Wet Paint staff was not only interested in my paper-preach, but they are all very interesting and talented artists, who I wish I could have spent more time with.   After the first day of my trip, I was quite fortunate to spend time with Ann Snowbeck, a buyer at Wet Paint, who is just a sweetie pie; most importantly… I realized she and I have the same (great) taste in accessories!

More Twin City tales coming soon.

Several months ago- maybe more-I did a post on FaceBook about shifu.  It was a minimal post- mostly photos in fact.

Apparently this post inspired one of my colleagues to set forth on a brand new quest to learn how to make  shifuBarbara Green, being an accomplished painter, graphic and web designer, competing rower, and avid sailor, taking on weaving (never mind making threads from scratch!) was veering down a truly unknown path.  But there’s no surprise Barbara set down this difficult road,  as she is one of the most fearless and determined people I know.

After Barbara brought the notion of shifu to the attention of the Weavers’ Guild of Rhode Island, a few more locals came a callin’ and wanted to give it a try.

For me, the spread of knowledge. particularly knowledge of my own passion for paper, sincerely makes me feel all warm and fuzzy inside….one little FaceBook post can go a long way.  Now, my hunger to learn more about  shifu and other paper textiles has been reignited.  Thank you Barbara- the inspiration is mutual!

As you can see, it’s a little different than Cinco de Mayo celebrations.   May 5th is known as  Boy’s Day, Children’s Day, kodomo no  hi, or as I call it : “The day when fish fly”.

Hundreds of Koi in the Sky

Koi Nobori from the Shore

Click on the youtube  link below to check out a monster size koi nobori 鯉のぼり (carp kite):

Biggest Koi Nobori Ever!

Dec 1, 2010 was a lucky day or fateful day, not sure which….who am I kidding? It’s usually a little of both.  Visited my friend at her new digs in the best part of Tokyo…”Azabu”; more specifically Azabu-Juban.
Azabu Juban is exactly the neighborhood of one of my all-time favorite stores “Blue & White”, founded and run by Ms. Amy Katoh.  As we strolled over to the shop close to its closing, a spry, silver-haired woman passed us by…heading in the same direction.  Although it had been several years since going to the store and seeing Ms. Katoh- I just knew it had to be her.

Sure enough, there she was, when we entered the store.  I had a brief- but-inspiring discussion with Amy, who pointed that it was her store’s 35th anniversary.  Since we were so close to Tokyo Midtown, she recommended we see a show at 2121 Design Sight at Tokyo Midtown;  walking distance from Blue & White.

Amy thought I should see the exhibit mainly because of the paper lanterns. One mention of the mathematically-folded paper lanterns by Jun Mitani+WOW, “in the same vain as” Isamu Noguchi‘s lanterns, and I was ready to go.

On the way to 2121 Design Sight my friend and I enjoyed the outdoor illumination display in front of Tokyo Midtown.  Now, past sundown, luckily the gallery was still open.

To my pleasant surprise, the exhibit turned out to be so much more than paper lanterns! The exhibition was probably the most inspiring thing I’ve seen in years.  Coordinated by none other than the clothing designer, Issey Miyake, with a group of collaborators from many different fields: earth science, geometry, textile manufacturing, recycling plants, sculptors, etc. The name of this exhibit is Issey Miyake Reality Lab .   Mr. Miyake and associates have more than inspired me to breathe new life into the paper world.