A Conversation with Lisa Goddard July 13 2023

Enjoy our conversation with artist Lisa (Elizabeth) Goddard, as she describes her reckoning through creating.

PC: How would you define your artwork, technique, and paper application?

LG: I am a printmaker, painter, and in recent years a quilt-maker. My main printmaking processes are woodcut, etching, and monotype. Through Paper Connection, I was introduced to the Korean paper-felting technique, joomchi, which was a perfect fit for a recent exhibition for the Mark Twain House & Museum of the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England from March 2022-January 2023.

PC: Are you willing to share insights into your process and current projects?

LG: I admit to being a Yankee, so I hate to waste anything! I began to create paper quilts in order to reuse or recycle parts of woodcut prints that were beautiful, although they had defects that would prohibit them from being part of an edition of prints. By cutting these prints into pattern sections, I have been able to develop a new format for my art.
Using Joomchi
Uncomfortable Quilt
As it turns out, the choice of quilt patterns, and the stitches I have used, strengthen the meaning of the imagery. A perfect example is my quilt for the Mark Twain exhibit called “Uncomfortable Quilt”. I selected the log cabin pattern to be in keeping with the time of Huckleberry Finn, one of my central characters in the quilt. Huck wrestled with the dilemma of whether to turn Jim in as a runaway slave, something his upbringing in a small Missouri town mandated, or to help Jim to freedom as he recognized Jim’s humanity. I felt that Huck’s awakening matched my own as I faced the violence so many African American citizens face at the hands of police. The other individuals represented in my quilt are George Floyd, Freddie Gray, Breonna Taylor, Eric Garner, Tamir Rice, and Michael Brown, who all were brutally killed by police. As I was stitching the quilt, I realized that the stitches used were consistent with the themes of slavery and freedom as well as our contemporary issue of unjust use of force and the death of African Americans. Serendipity - or subconscious thought - must have guided me to choose the running stitch, the chain stitch, and the whip stitch, which are pretty typical embroidery stitches.
Uncomfortable Quilt
Whip Stitch Detail
When I was halfway through sewing the quilt together, I realized the connection between subject matter and method. I can tell you, the hair stood up on the back of my neck!

PC: Why do you create? What is the meaning behind your work?

LG: I have always felt compelled to share my human story and to listen and absorb the stories of others. I believe that the arts make us more human. The arts create empathy and understanding among people all over the world, including from past to present lives. I create with the hope that my stories will resonate with people today and in the future.

PC: What influences inspire you and why?

LG: Life in all its beauty inspires me. I feel part of a vast existence of which I am a minuscule part. This helps me to appreciate my insignificance and to feel immense gratitude for the life I have. I hope to inspire my viewers to feel reverence for our world and our shared existence and to pass it forward.

"I realized the connection between subject matter and method. I can tell you, the hair stood up on the back of my neck!"

PC: How did your creative journey bring you to this place?

LG: As part of the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England, I enjoy the group projects we do. Having been a museum director until 2015, I knew the executive director of the Mark Twain House & Museum in Hartford, CT. I proposed a project idea to the printmakers and then took it with their blessing to the museum. The result was the exhibit called “The Evocative Mark Twain Inspires the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England.” The printmakers each chose an authentic quote(s) by Samuel Clemens (aka Mark Twain) and created their own art to reflect their response to the quote. My quote from The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn reflected his struggle with slavery which paralleled my own struggle with the police killings of African American citizens.
Text for Unforgettable Quilt
For my own piece, I wrote the following wall text:
George Floyd
“After George Floyd was murdered by police in Minneapolis in 2020, I experienced an awakening not unlike Huck’s in The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. I was listening to former RNC chairman Michael Steele as he described “The Conversation” that Black parents have with their children about what to do and say when confronted by the police. Startled, I realized that I had never had this talk with my parents. I had not had this talk with my children. Being white, no one needed to warn me about the danger of being stopped by police. After all, they were good, weren’t they? Maybe not so much… So began my journey as an artist, producing etchings of George Floyd, Michael Brown, Breonna Taylor, Freddie Gray, Tamir Rice, and Eric Garner. Ultimately, producing etchings from these drawings caused me to feel their humanity deeply and to mourn them.”

PC: Do you ever feel stagnant? If so, how do you break through?

LG: Of course, I have moments of stagnation. Sometimes I find cleaning up my flat files and studio space helps to jump-start me. Sometimes I am renewed by challenging myself to do 100 abstract monotypes, as I did when I retired from my position as Executive Director of the Newport Art Museum. Sometimes, it is just doing some work that is terrible and just pushing through with elbow grease that unlocks my creativity.

PC: Can you describe the importance of paper (or other mediums) in your work, what type of paper (medium) do you use most, and why?

LG: Paper comes from trees. So does the wood I use for woodcuts. There is a connection I feel with the natural world, particularly with trees, so I like to think there is a divine presence guiding me in working with paper. I do love the feel and the tones of Hahnemühle Copperplate. I also love natural papers such as Lotka from Nepal. I often draw in sketchbooks made of this paper. For the quilt, I used Hanji-(Korean) mulberry paper and Taja white cotton rag.

PC: Why this medium? Can you elaborate/reflect on your work and future forecasting?

LG: I studied printmaking when I was in college, but I was frustrated because the process took so long. I wanted the immediacy of painting. Then in my forties, I returned to printmaking and it was the complexity of the process and the mental dexterity needed to create multi-plate woodcuts and photopolymer etchings that kept me engaged and stimulated ever since. Sometimes life comes full circle.

PC: Are there papers from Paper Connection that you can speak about, provide insights, elaborations, process, and/or integrity of quality?

LG: When I visited Lauren at the Paper Connection in Providence, RI to purchase paper for the quilt, she introduced me to the luscious Korean felting paper called Hanji as well as to the technique of felting itself. This inspired me to try felting. It “felt” right to use in my quilt project. I was able to select shades of red and blue that had equal values as I created the log cabin pattern of dark to light squares. (red for blood and blue for police)

PC: Are there questions no one has asked concerning your creative process, philosophy, or recent experience you’d like to share?

LG: What would life be like if you stopped making art? Would you move to another medium of expression?

PC: Do you have any upcoming shows or installations in progress? If so, please provide info so we can direct our readers.

LG: I am included in a new exhibit of the Printmakers’ Network of Southern New England at the Cahoon Museum of American Art in Barnstable, MA. It runs from April 19-June 18, 2023.

PC: Thank you Lisa! especially for your candid description of your emotional and physical reactions while making the "Uncomfortable Quilt", made from paper.

It has been wonderful to learn about you and your work via your "conversations" with historical figures and influences.

To check out more about Lisa and her artwork, plus her current and past exhibit information, click on the link below.

Big News April 03 2023

Introducing the ART ANNEX! Lauren Pearlman Sugita, founder and director at Paper Connection has partnered with master weaver and artist Suzi Ballenger of RealFibers to realize a long-time dream. The new ART ANNEX, opening this month, is greater Rhode Island's only educational center for paper and fiber arts open to anyone in the community. The ART ANNEX is located in one of the largest, remaining mill complexes in the state, called HOPE ARTISTE VILLAGE. The building complex is on the National Register of Historic Places. The ART ANNEX is the largest educational center for paper, fiber and book arts of its kind between NYC and Portland, ME. The ART ANNEX is a local makers' space created for the greater community - welcoming folks of all ages and from all backgrounds. The ART ANNEX 's mission is to create a safe and accessible learning environment for traditional crafts, such as hand papermaking, hand weaving, natural dyeing, and book making.
First up at the ART ANNEX?
@Hope Artiste Village, 999 Main St. Unit #109 Pawtucket, RI.
April 8: Handweaving Basics 10am Sign up here 6 week course. April 14: Monoprints & Monotypes 5:30pm Sign up here 2 -hour workshop. April 15 & April 16: Lauren and Suzi will be in-house after 1pm both days, Drop In to make your own handmade hemp/(or some relative fiber) paper postcard/small sheet (suggested donation $5.00) during the Coastal Cultivator Classic sponsored by Mother Earth Wellness.
While we prepare the space for future workshops- mainly papermaking workshops ;), please join us at our Wednesday pm Drop-In Clinics during the Pawtucket Indoor Farmer's Market.
When: Beginning April 12, 2023, Wednesday nights, during the Indoor Farmer Market; next door at 1005 Main St.4:00-7:00 pm.. (Some Wednesdays in the future, Suzi may be selling vegetables too!) Where: The ART ANNEX 999 Main Street, Unit #109 Pawtucket, RI.
Donations are much appreciated!
Please stop by to check out the beautiful looms and gorgeous items for sale in our shop. Both Lauren and Suzi will be in-house to help troubleshoot your paper, fiber and book arts queries and quandaries. BONUS! we all get to meet each other- expanding our worlds.
MORE HOURS COMING SOON We'll be adding more open shop hours later in the spring and we'll definitely keep you posted. For all of you outside of the area, please visit our online shop. We truly hope you can visit the ART ANNEX someday soon!
for more information please email:

Fabulously Flexible Hanji November 13 2022

beauty & texture

the delight of windswept edges

our papers help tell your story

How could hanji (Korean paper) be applied in your creative process?
Hanji is becoming a well-known handmade paper in the West. The base fiber is mulberry or dak, in Korean. Sometimes two fibers are mixed, like dak and samjidak, the Korean version of mitsumata or Edgeworthia chrysantha (part of the Thymelaeaceae family of plants). Paper Connection stocks varied weights and colors as part of our extensive inventory of mostly Eastern fine art papers. Depending on characteristics, these papers perform best within book and paper conservation, with others playing a leading role in printmaking, calligraphy, painting, and papercrafts, such as joomchi (paper felting) or jiseung (paper basketry). Home interiors including sliding doors, lanterns, clothing, fans, and heated flooring, are beautifully created, with hanji papers. Durable, smooth, breathable, and who can resist those deckled edges! We stock almost forty colors of hanji and several whites for specific fields and techniques. You can view current stock by clicking here: hanji. Be inspired! Hanji paper by Lee Sun – Future Materials Bank Hanji Meets the World ( Hanji In The House! ( Joomchi! Everybody’s talking about it! ( Artist of the Month: Bill Lorton ( Artist Julie Miller on Joomchi – Korean Paper Felting ( Meet PJ Bergin; Hanji’s Newest and Biggest Fan ( Multimedia Artist – Elisa Lanzi ( Painting & Calligraphy Paper Plunge ( Jeannine Mullan: Space, Layers & Chance ( Play Versus Purpose with A.I.R. Lisa Perez ( artist of the month printmaker Nichol Markowitz ( For my collage work and photo transfers I like to use colored hanji (Korean mulberry paper). - Nichol Markowitz

Curating WITH PAPER September 12 2022

I recently curated a gallery group exhibit gallery at Pawtucket Arts Collaborative. Show Title: WITH PAPER, A PAC Gallery Pop-up, showcased works by Bayda Asbridge, Suzi Ballenger, Justine Chang, and myself, Lauren Pearlman Sugita. All 4 participating artists work with paper in different ways with overlaps. The basis, of course, was how we all work with, live with, and communicate with paper.
Lauren Pearlman Sugita, couching, SMFA
handmade paper A Book of Spinach & Feta
handmade flax paper Mollusks from Mars
handmade cotton paper, Laurelai Designs Woven Vines
Putting together such a quick turn-around event like this, definitely challenged my "juggling" skills. I was super-focused and in an abbreviated amount of time, it came together! The collaboration afforded me the opportunity to connect and deepen relationships with three super-talented artists, mainly by spending intimate time with their work. It was interesting for me that the act of curation, allowed me to know each one in a new way (including myself!). As I continually seek community, the experience provided a new path for connectivity and bonds. As WITH PAPER, the gallery show, assembled in just a few days, a "community" was formed. Those connections were the most rewarding gift of WITH PAPER. I requested each of the other 3 artists to send in a comment subsequent to the show.
Bayda Asbridge mixed media Our Village
BAYDA ASBRIDGE writes: I was invited by Lauren Pearlman Sugita from Paper Connection to participate in this pop-up exhibit WITH PAPER at the Pawtucket Arts Collaborative. It was short notice but still, Lauren worked extremely hard to put a very professional show together with our group while maintaining her business during the day. I was incredibly grateful to be invited and to be part of this beautiful exhibit because it gave me a deadline to finish a paper tapestry "San Diego on My Mind", an opportunity to bond with other artists, and the opportunity to reach a wider audience.
Bayda Asbridge mixed media fiber, paper, weaving San Diego on My Mind
Bayda Asbridge mixed media fiber, paper, weaving Blue Lagoon by Bayda Asbridge
SUZI BALLENGER writes: Thank you Lauren for your curatorial wisdom and vision. WITH PAPER became an opportunity to work through my thoughts on the series “To Be of Use”. These works reflect on the interconnection of vitality/detritus, growth/sediment, and need/sacrifice, an exciting exploration worth further investigation. Meeting the other artists was an honor. The work chosen for this exhibit made me feel like I was part of a common understanding and passion.
Suzi Ballenger handmade paper, onion skin To Be of Use
Suzi Ballenger handmade abaca paper, reed, porcupine quills I realized I was the one who was trapped. I just couldn’t swallow another fly!
Suzi Ballenger handmade abaca, hemp Suggestive Freedoms
JUSTINE CHANG writes: The show came together beautifully, and I was honored to be a part. As someone who is new to handmade paper, I’ve been constantly surprised by the generosity of other artists working with paper, including Lauren, Suzi, and Bayda. It was such a meaningful experience, to meet the artists, and to see the response of people who came to view the work. All of this confirms for me, that working with paper is an important way to reconnect with my body, my heritage, and nature.
Justine Chang photography on Korean paper. hanji Series: Margins
Justine Chang photography on Korean paper. hanji Series: Margins

Starting a Creative Collective May 13 2022

Imagine a world in which we share our gifts.

When resources are scarce, we can pull ourselves inward. Like the folk story, Stone Soup, where the villagers did not want to offer their food to strangers simply because they were strangers. They wanted to remain isolated - to shut out people they felt ungenerous toward, depriving themselves at the same time. We would all feel richer, sharing and receiving, with equal abandon and abundance. In the same vein as the Stone Soup strangers, Kelsey Pike and Adri Luna had the genius to create a vision of feast and good fortune that needed testing, and the journey of Cherry Pit Collective was born.
Simple Beginnings:
Kelsey Pike was looking for a studio space for her hand papermaking business. She longed to reignite a communal studio much like her art school days. Kelsey saw an article about Maker Village, a community wood and metal shop in an underdeveloped area of downtown Kansas City, Missouri. She inquired about available space, explaining her vision: The idea of a communal studio for artists, makers, and creatives where the work and vision of women, non-binary, and marginalized genders/communities are supported and celebrated. The building owners loved the idea as they had been rehabbing the space and were ready to install final details.
Looking towards the Collective's front-facing windows.
Artists need adequate lighting for work throughout the day and night, heating & cooling throughout the year and plenty of electrical outlets for various tools required to create.
Ignited by the first steps, Kelsey and Adri Luna began forming and refining. Working with the landlords, they designed and build-out (and eventually up) the interior space that would become Cherry Pit Collective.
Part of the Pit Collective.
Enter and feel a sense of comfort, inclusion, and safety.
The warehouse, nestled between Maker Village KC and Oddities Print Shop, resides in the center of Kansas City, MO, near the corner of 31st and Cherry. Kelsey and Adri loved the exposed brick interior, thirty-foot ceilings, and tons of natural light from its south-facing glass panel front. There is a mixture of wood and cement floors and an additional skylight at the apex of the roof. The vision was open-ended studio spaces ranging from thirty to two-hundred square feet with simple wooden partitions designating each maker space while still creating community. They kept the basement open with its ten-foot ceilings. Most of the work was completed in 2016. By the summer of 2021 the final touch of a loft, financed by the building owners, was completed. The loft area, built towards the back of the building, houses an ingenious papermaking set-up, washer & dryer, plus an area used for orders and shipping needs.
How did they do it? Money & Resources.
Viewpoint from the front door.
One: Friends & Family Two: Kickstarter & Exceptional Donors Three: Shear Hutzpah Kelsey and Adri wanted to create a space to support female-identifying and marginalized genders/communities.

- There was a story to tell.

A look-see at a workspace.

Like many makers and artists, most work from home, their bedrooms, kitchens, dining room tables, and ill-equipped basement spaces doing double duty. Creators pushed projects aside to accommodate family, children, roommates, day jobs, side businesses, and housework, with a lack of professional places to discuss collaborations and projects that were safe and quiet enough. Cherry Pit Collective would provide dedicated spaces for members to create, meet, and make, leaving home responsibilities to arrive at Cherry Pit Collective. Folks could come ready to work, focused, with space, light, comfort, and community, no longer isolated but in a safe environment for the development and growth of female-fronted businesses. Members would work together to support and promote each other through a shared workspace, shared environment keeping, costs, benefits, and risks. The collective would include monthly programming and skill-sharing events while creating a community of local makers - fostering collaboration over competition. So, in June of 2016, Kelsey and Adri ran a Kickstarter to raise $10,000 for a building deposit and final build-out expenses. For thirty-six days, Kickstarter offered possibilities. Cherry Pit Collective supplied their vision video and perks to backers for exclusive items made by local artists and folks who would be bringing their creativity and community to the Collective. In addition, throughout the campaign, the fledgling collective-to-be hosted a final push event called the Cherry Bomb-A-Thon. The campaign was a success and ended up $180 over the $10,000 goal. ​The Kickstarter took care of much-needed lighting, heating, cooling, and the build-out of electric outlets, making the space more affordable for its members at the get-go.
Welcome to Cherry Pit Collective.
Paying for these expenses upfront, with funds from friends, family, colleagues, and patrons keeps the space more affordable for members. In addition to crowdfunding efforts, they supplemented with annual fundraising events, classes, and monthly fees from members. If you are an artist or craftsperson in the Kansas City area, you may benefit from the minds at Cherry Pit Collective. They host workshops and classes on topics small art businesses need to succeed, such as craft fair booth set-up, filing taxes, fine-tuning SEO for your online shop, and how to get products into local businesses. Q & A with Kelsey Pike What are some obstacles to creating a Collective? In the beginning, we had trouble finding the right balance of work between members. As members grew to know and trust one another and felt autonomy and agency as members of the collective, it was increasingly easy to divide tasks based on personal interests and skills.
Crysta Henthorne - Illustrator, Graphic Designer, and Painter.
Members handle all aspects of managing the collective, including cleaning, promotional work, class programming, event coordination, and member recruitment. What is the significance of being a female-only space? The original mission was to fill the studio with hard-working artists & makers. The first dozen happened to be female-identifying which worked so well that we intentionally moved in that direction, making members feel comfortable, safe, and relaxed while working, freeing themselves, which is sometimes challenging in male-centric workplaces. How important is networking for artists and makers? A community feel is deeply integral to networking, rather than trying to meet the right people or make specific connections. Our collective builds on members with varying skill levels and backgrounds. Businesses are a decade or older, while others are just starting. The aim is to learn from each other. Fresh perspectives help seasoned makers see different vantage points, and established artists offer experiential advice. Members encourage each other to try new approaches, share unique specialties and support each other.
Kelsey Pike working in her papermaking studio.
Kelsey, how did you begin your business - Sustainable Paper+Craft? I learned papermaking in 2010 when I took a class at KCAI called Materials & Methods. I fell in love with the process and decided to make paper for the rest of my life. I started an Etsy shop at the end of that year. The original concept was to sell handmade paper sketchbooks I made as a studio project. The initial sketchbooks sold out. I did the math and realized the direction had to change, and selling loose paper sheets to other artists became the focus. In my senior year, dreading graduation and no longer having access to the paper studio, the thought of never making paper was disheartening. I finished with a degree from the Kansas City Art Institute in Art History and a minor in Printmaking. I tried for grants and got rejected, so I combined my Etsy profits with graduation gifts and purchased my own Hollander beater and other studio equipment that I still use. Initially, how important was branding to you with Sustainable Paper+Art? At the start, my concern with branding was minimal. My primary focus was making the highest quality papers that would perform in a way that brought people back for more. Over time, I made a logo, picked a font, created a website with photos, and it all went uphill from there. Did you have a mission when starting Sustainable Paper+Craft? I had no mission. I just knew I loved making paper and was good at it. More than anything, I wanted people to use what I was making because of its beauty, functionality, a pleasure to the eye, and forgiving qualities.

Kelsey's advice for fledgling makers/starting their own company

Sharpen your craft ⋅ Spend hours, days, and months learning ⋅ Become the expert ⋅ Travel if you can ⋅ Learn from masters ⋅ Read the books ⋅ Never stop practicing and stretching yourself ⋅ Listen and give back

What are the challenges creatives face in your city? Kansas City is a great place to live because it is still relatively affordable. As an artist or entrepreneur, you can pursue your creative interest and still afford to live comfortably. This idea is not lost on the community here and has created a saturation of creatives. With saturation in any field comes competition, the fear that every new venture is somehow detracting from your own. I confirm there is space for further cultivation of new ideas to develop success.
Kelsey Pike and Lauren Pearlman at Cherry Pit Collective in Kansas City, Missouri.
What physical aspects of your co-working community make people feel at home and welcome? The space has several shared areas, open to all members, making it feel like a cozy home. The kitchen, large communal eating area, lounge, and a big backyard with a fire pit give space to individuals outside their studio. Workspaces are open to the communal area, encouraging exchange between studio mates. It is impossible to arrive and not see who else is working, welcoming conversation and closeness. What are your top 3 tips for people hesitant to join a co-working space? We designed our membership admission process to ensure a mutual best fit. Our written application requires answering personal questions, then informal interviews and coffee meetings with members. If the candidate passes all these gateways, we know they will be a great addition, ensuring we have chosen them based on fit and what they offer the collective, as much as them choosing us. For any collective, Kelsey suggests the following:
  1. Test it out. Depending on the space, this might mean attending an event, going for a tour, or checking out open studio hours.
  2. Be your authentic self from day one. You want to connect with meaning and sincerity. These are people you'll see regularly. Allow them to get to know you and be a support system.
  3. Once your space is secured, spend time there. You make connections by showing up.
  4. If applicable, try volunteering in a way that will make you a valuable member of your community.
Cherry Pit Collective stands on ancestral land, honored with gratitude, the land itself and the people who have and continue to steward it - to the people of Kiikaapo (Kikapoo), Wazhazhe Mazhá (Osage), Kaw (Kansa), and Očhéthi Šakówin (Sioux). Kelsey Pike co-founded Cherry Pit Collective, a communal studio space for artists, makers, and creatives, where the work and vision of women are emphasized and celebrated. Kelsey is the cornerstone in creating an environment of members who work, support, and promote each other through a shared workspace and creative communing. Cherry Pit Collective hosts programs fostering collaboration over competition. You can locate Kelsey and view Cherry Pit Collective: Cherry Pit Collective on Facebook Cherry Pit Collective on Instagram
Fricka Jones - Artist, Writer, Editor
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Discovery: Julie Miller on the Art of Joomchi - Korean Paper Felting August 23 2021

Julie Miller is a science writer, editor, and photographer
Prior to the pandemic, I'd been creating kaleidoscopic images from my photography. Using this design base, I began further discovery, taking a workshop in Joomchi, a 500-year-old Korean technique that assembles layers of mulberry paper, which are wetted, crushed, mashed, and smashed to create felted paper. The layers shrink, pigments bleed, and the paper becomes lacy and develops textures, holes, and striations. The work dries into surprisingly colorful, richly textured, and cloth-like pieces.
Corona Virus
Since then, I've ordered additional mulberry varietals online, mostly from Paper Connection. I've worked with traditional Hanji but have found it fun experimenting with other papers.
Formed from strips of Joomchi
Jiyoung Chung, the artist who introduced Joomchi throughout the west, notes it is both an expressive and a meditative process. “It’s like life,” she says, “through hardships, we become stronger . . . in the process of breaking down and forming new bonds, the paper becomes stronger.”
Fish created with Itajimeshi Bokashi - felted on blue and green wool, includes silk threads, and embroidery.
I’ve continued online classes, adding fiber arts, hand-stitching, and traditional felting - combining paper, wool, and silk. The journey has been both contemplative and soothing. During the pandemic, Joomchi kept me sane and as life opens, I continue my journey, weaving tradition and my perspective.
Before: Raw Materials including lokta papers, lace papers, patterned hanji. (mulberry paper from Korea).
After: End Product
Julie Miller on PCI papers that tell your story NOTE from PCI: The craft of "joomchi" is still very popular these days. These are our earlier blogs on this topic.

Providence Monthly Focus on PCI February 26 2021

Check it out!

Lauren P. Sugita | Providence Media (
Get a glimpse into Lauren and PCI's match-making capabilities. Thank you Providence Monthly! . . . and Thank You Lauren for making a difference, in Providence for 25 years!! papermaking, washi, Japan, paper

Meet PJ Bergin; Hanji's Newest and Biggest Fan November 14 2017

Hanji or Korean paper is one of our most popular handmade papers. Hanji is used in a traditional craft called joomchi, a kind of felting of different paper sheets together to create a wonderful effect; organic shapes in rich colors spring to life from an otherwise flat sheet of paper. Hailing from Colorado, PJ Bergin has feasted her eyes and hands on hanji, springing her inspiration and creative talents to life, with this paper. We have yet to meet PJ in person, but we enjoy corresponding and had the pleasure to get to know her via this interview. We know you will too: PCI: Please tell us a bit about your background, and what kind of artwork you do. PJ: Since I can remember, creating objects and items to wear with textiles and other types of fibers has been an innate obsession. I started making clothes for my dolls and myself about the age of 5. After graduating from FIT in Manhattan, I started and grew a successful business installing European Wall Upholstery that took up a lot of my early adult life. Designing and working with my hands came easily to me and a passion. I am now full time studio artist, since selling the business 10 years ago. My first medium was felt and now, for the past two years, am focusing on Korean mulberry paper, also called hanji.
SERIES 2016-2
courtesy of PJ Bergin
PCI: Your background in textiles and your interest in hanji is quite interesting. What inspired you to work with paper? PJ: The medium of Hanji continues to let me work with my hands by shaping and fusing it. Getting my hands “in the goods” is an important part of the creative process for me. Also, I was looking for a fibrous surface that was smooth enough for painting. I can do this on Hanji. PCI: When were you introduced to Korean paper? PJ: I attended a workshop with Jiyoung Chung in 2015. PCI: She is such a pioneer for Hanji and Joomchi, which we hope you can elaborate on. When and where did you learn Joomchi and what are some of the challenges you encounter? PJ: The workshop with Jiyoung Chung opened many doors for me with the technique of Joomchi and facets of mulberry paper. There are some similarities to working with the paper and my previous experiences with wool. The paper also reacts well when wetted to fuse different layers and colors. This technique, called “Joomchi” creates various texture and dimensions. The new challenge while working with the Hanji is that when it is wet it is quite fragile. Caution is the key when starting out on a new piece.
PJ's Process:
PCI: Please describe your process and how handmade paper is involved. PJ: I usually have a particular effect, or plan for the finished artwork before I begin. To that result I cut the Hanji in different colors, and arrange the pieces in the pattern that is pleasing to my eye. After much scrutiny to the design and layout, I start to get the hanji wet to the fusing process. Sometimes the fusing process can go quickly, other times, depending on the design, it can take longer. After the pieces are fused, I can begin to scrunch the entire piece for texture and visual interest. This is the beauty of working with hanji. PCI: What are some of the characteristics of Hanji that enable you to achieve the desired results you have in mind? Why do you like it as your go-to paper? PJ: As described above, hanji lets me, as the artist, manipulate it and control the process. The colors will sometimes blend together during the fusing process to create new colors. This is usually unplanned (not controlled!), but lends even more depth and interest to the finished artwork.
PJ Bergin Series 2016, courtesy of PJ Bergin
PCI: Are there any comparisons to textiles and fabric? PJ: I have a lot of experience working with textiles. In my opinion, there is not much similarity with Hanji to textiles. I think this is one of the reasons I am enjoying working with it so much. There are so many areas of new discovery! It is very different from the mediums I have worked in terms of creativity and flexibility.
PCI: How has Paper Connection helped you navigate through this world of kozo or dak paper, (mulberry paper), hanji, and other Eastern papers? PJ: Lauren and all those who work at Paper Connection have been very helpful to me as I build my studio career with Hanji and the Joomchi technique. Whether it is a time when I am looking for a particular color of the hanji or have a question about the texture of a certain paper, there is always someone who will take the time to speak with me. It is easy to navigate the Paper Connection web site to find papers I want.
Color Series #1, 2017
courtesy of PJ Bergin
PCI: Thank you so much, we enjoy helping out any way we can! What handmade paper would you recommend for fellow colleagues or students who are in your field and why? PJ: The hanji and kozo papers come in a wide variety of colors and are great to work with. They are very versatile. I also find many very lightweight and sheer papers easy to fuse onto the hanji, even though they are not made from the mulberry fiber. PCI: What advice would you give to fellow paper and/or fiber artists who may be just starting out? PJ: Have a lot of perseverance and patience. Believe in what you are doing and listen to your own mind. Set goals and do your best to keep them. PCI: That is so true, and much appreciated. We hope novices take it to heart, no matter what age it is that one starts! Our famous question, if you could choose any artist to have over for dinner and conversation, who would you choose and why? PJ: This is an easy answer for me. My guest will be El Anatsui. He is the artist who lives and works in Nigeria and makes large, dynamic tapestry from disused bottles caps and other remnant pieces of metals. The metal pieces are then connected with wire into the tapestry that shine and glow like large jewels. Each one is fascinating, with its own character and different from the last. I can spend hours looking at them. His work is inspiring to me because this is the goal I have for my work. Each time a person looks at one of the joomchi pieces I create with the mulberry paper, I want the person to see something new. Either it is because of the way the light is hitting the artwork or because of the unique nuance of the mulberry paper itself. PCI: PJ, we love it. Thank you so much for taking the time to answer our paper questions. We hope to meet you in person.
courtesy of PJ Bergin
Check out PJ's blog to see what's she working on now. Follow PJ Bergin's Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest for more information and inspiration.

Amate: Surviving Tradition of Ancient Mexico September 22 2016

Papel Amate (or amatyl) although it comes in sheets, is technically not formed the same way paper is. It is referred to as "bark cloth", "paper cloth" and as "paper", depending on who you talk to. The most significant fact is that the oldest codex known was made from amate in the pre-columbian era. The fibers are are scraped, cooked and beaten very much like you would to hand-make a piece of paper, even though the pulp is not poured into slurry and sheets are not pulled through a screen. Instead fibers are pounded together with a stone; creating an irregular, luscious sheet. Papel Amate has been made for centuries by the Otomí Indians in the states of Puebla and Vera Cruz in Mexico. Traditional fibers still used today are the outer bark of the ficus tree and the inner bark of the mulberry bush.

ADVENTURES IN PAPERMAKING guest blog by Heather Matthew. Heather is a paper artist living in New South Wales, Australia. A longer version of Heather's blog was first re-posted on the PaperSlurry blog.

A hot afternoon in the clear mountains of central Mexico. I was off to visit the home studio of amate paper artist Julio Chichicaxtle on an investigation into traditional Mayan papermaking techniques. I had read about amate paper, the bark paper on which the Mayan codices was written and encountered Julio at the Feria Maestros del Arte in November 2011.

At his invitation, my husband and I were to visit his studio before the cold mountain mists rolled in and he stopped paper production until spring. After a series of memorable bus journeys from Mexico City to Tulancingo, and from there on a rattling old locale bus…we arrived at San Pablito via taxi on a crowded market morning. The taxi dropped us off with our backpacks to walk the length of the crowd selling vegetables and clothes. No one spoke English, and we didn’t know Spanish (let alone the local dialect) but were confident we would find the big yellow house where our host Julio lived.

After a ride in a policeman’s car up a hill to a tourist paper and jewelry shop, then a walk down to a small gallery, it was Julio’s father-in law who eventually led the way to Julio’s flat roofed house. He had been waiting for us, and while tortillas were cooking on the traditional oven, he led us upstairs to his papel amate studio, the rooftop terrace where he pounds and weaves bark fibre to make his extraordinary paper paintings.

amate, kozo, papel amate, Heather Matthew, papermaker Bucket of amate bark soaking
amate, kozo, papel amate, Heather Matthew, papermaker Laying out amate fibers
amate, kozo, papel amate, Heather Matthew, papermaker Julio weaving strands of amate fiber together
amate, kozo, papel amate, Heather Matthew, papermaker Julio Chichicaxtle pounding the amate fibers
amate, kozo, papel amate, Heather Matthew, papermaker Julio's peeling off the pounded amate artwork
amate, kozo, papel amate, Heather Matthew, papermaker Close up of Julio's amate artwork
All photos provided by papermaker Heather Matthew.

Neutral colors of 3 styles of Amate now stocked at Paper Connection. Liso (plain), perferado (grid), and circular (overlapping circles). Please email us for more details:

Paperwomen and Print Club LTD in Providence April 28 2016

A couple of us PAPERWOMEN-on-the-road had a great time visit­ing Print Club LTD. studios earlier t­his month. The best part is they're now ­in the Providence area!

Paperwoman Joan visits Liz's studio. Paperwoman Joan visits Liz's studio.

We loved meeting­ with Ms. Liz Corkery in her space this time and forging a further paper bond with her. ­ She had visited us at Paper Connection's warehouse back in October of 2015.

Liz kindly provided clear insight into her process and work involving architecture in gardens­. Her “ruin boards” act as a reference and articulate a ­visual representation of her research, mu­ch like story boards in film production.­

Visiting Liz's studio and admiring her work. Visiting Liz's studio and admiring her work.
More of Liz Corkery's work More of Liz Corkery's work

She has recently received funding, so she is ­off to the UK in July for research on “­sham ruins" and English estate gardens. After her artist-in-residence research time, she will stay on to attend the London Sum­mer Intensive in August. Finally, her wo­rk will culminate in an exhibit at the Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston in September, 2016.

We wish Liz the best­ as she heads to London! Read more about it here: AS220­ article.