Handmade paperwork

I make paper, and for many years have specialized in making paper from indigenous plants. This big stack (about 10 inches or so) includes papers made from: slippery elm inner bark, day lily leaves, cotton linters, abaca, milkweed bast, hosta leaves, iris leaves, canada thistle seed heads, corn husks, rhubarb leaf stalks, wild clematis seed head papers. The golden papers are cotton bed sheeting from a garage sale. I like to pulp special cellulose fiber cloth into paper because the story of the clothing remains embedded in the page.

I make paper, and for many years have specialized in making paper from indigenous plants. This big stack (about 10 inches or so) includes papers made from: slippery elm inner bark, day lily leaves, cotton linters, abaca, milkweed bast, hosta leaves, iris leaves, canada thistle seed heads, corn husks, rhubarb leaf stalks, wild clematis seed head papers. The golden papers are cotton bed sheeting from a garage sale. I like to pulp special cellulose fiber cloth into paper because the story of the clothing remains embedded in the page.

Handmade paper experiments

In order, left to right: Worked and inked lokta (momogami), lokta and handspun wool, lokta, winter field retted milkweed papers, gramicci climbing pants paper and the waistband "shibori" as cloth covering for a coptic bound book, and another piece of milkweed paper.


Shifu
 a spun and woven paper textile

Shifu is the Japanese art of spinning and weaving handmade paper into cloth. Shifu is made with at least one spun paper element, usually weft but sometimes both warp and weft. The other element (usually warp) would be silk or cotton. Shifu is surprisingly light in weight, yet warm to the touch, and originally provided rural Japanese people with an alternative, locally sourced (homemade) and inexpensive, cloth. My idiosyncratic take on shifu is what I call North Country Shifu. I spin paper, often without moisture or pre-spinning, which yields a rough and slubby yarn. When woven these threads make a  distinctive and beautiful surface, which I use for book pages and covers.  


A Sampling of My Artists' Books

12 Moons

This book has two signatures of Arches text wove pages that were contact/pressure printed. The pages have fold-outs and graphite drawings, so when you read this book it grows and dances. The cover is botanical pressure printed shifu (cotton warp, lokta weft) lined with printed flax case paper. It has botanically contact printed silk organdy endsheets, and an ostrich egg shell button on the spine of the stationers binding. This book is part of my Hortus Siccus project, and is in the collection of Baylor University Library.

A Year of Wooden Books

12 coptic bound wooden board (poplar) books with pages of contact printed Arches text wove, which are also a part of the Hortus Siccus project.

Contact Printing

I began dyeing with natural dyes long ago, after I became annoyed with fiber reactive, acid, and even household dyes like RIT. I'd heard of something called "compost dyeing" and decided I'd try it working with my land, cloth, and weather! Eventually I wrapped a 55 gallon drum with a couple of yards of cotton muslin and let it sit in my yard for a month or so one Autumn. I doused it with water daily, and rolled it a quarter-turn. As some colors began to appear on the cloth I decided to feed it, adding vinegar sometimes, water frequently, whey from yogurt or old milk, even beer if I didn't want to finish my supper libation. Microorganisms began coloring the cloth and colors and patterns appeared. I removed the cloth once or twice, but continued to water and roll it. This cloth was made for a bookbinder friend, and it started me thinking of alternative ways of combining natural dyeing and books. Soon I found the book Eco Colour by India Flint and I sent away to Australia to buy it. Thus began my working with local plants, waters, and found metals for eco-printing. I had the opportunity to study with India and did so, and after that and with encouragement from learning to dye with Japanese natural dyestuffs with Tatiana Ginsburg I began to experiment on my own papers, ruining many handmade sheets until my hands learned how to handle dye bundles made of papers. Eco printing is now called contact or botanical or pressure printing, or a combination of those words. Catherine Michaelis has coined the phrase BoCo Printing, which I quite like. Below the photo collage gives you a tour through my process, prints and a few books.