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2023: The Year of Paper in Rhode Island February 02 2024

TO: You wonderful people that continue to support my world of paper and fiber arts FROM: Lauren Pearlman Sugita
For me, 2023 was all about E X P A N S I O N! Only about 1/2 a year ago, a lovely, large studio space was found and a new partnership began. It's still a work in progress, but it has an official name the "Art Annex" located in Pawtucket, RI; 2 miles up the road from Paper Connection.
This new studio, which is about 1500 sq. feet, provides a creative space for gathering both the interesting and interested; it allows me the freedom to connect with folks in my community in person. and, of course, to finally get to enjoy using and sharing state-of-the-art tools and equipment via teaching and learning. Check out the very first blog post about the Art Annex. In the 2nd half of 2023, the Art Annex was able to open its doors for: a. fiber & paper clinics, b. papermaking, printmaking and weaving demos, c. open houses, and national conference tours, d. workshops in printmaking, book arts, weaving, and papermaking taught by us and by guest instructors.
In the Year of the Dragon: 2024- There is so much more to look forward to! Here's to even more art making in 2024!!
Thank you always for your continued support of my endeavors. PS. Will I see you in early April at SGC International? Happy to show you around the new space! PPS If you have a proposal for a workshop, presentation, event or collaboration at the Art Annex, please reach out via email. contactus@paperconnection.com

Hand Papermaking in RI November 04 2023

During 89 yrs young Ayako Yoshizumi's tough schedule of teaching, lecturing and doing demonstrations while visiting lil' ol'Rhode Island , (please read previous blog post), I was so grateful to have several incredibly hard-working volunteers helping, who also maintain a great appreciation of hand papermaking and tradtional crafts. Here is a wonderful blog post by one of our favorite supporters: "Ms. Noriko Crasso", who is a talented local artist in many mediums. This is Noriko's original blog post in Japanese: https://www.hamaguri.net/chatting/art-annex-papermakin The English version is below here. Thank you Noriko! I am so happy that you were inspired to write this post. Lauren

“Art Annex” Papermaking Workshop

I went to a paper-making workshop hosted by Lauren from Paper Connection, who is helping out with the Tanabata Festival.

Lauren's papermaking teachers, Ayako Sensei and her daughter Tomo WASHI YOSHI, were visiting from Japan. Ayako-sensei is now 89 years old, but she is still in good health! With her spine straight, her eyes were drawn to the image of her mixing water with kozo.

The American participants in the workshop communicated with each other through gestures, which made me happy as well.

The plant ``Kouzo'', which is the raw material for paper, is mixed with water along with ``neri'' or ``yam'', which acts as ``glue'', and then filtered in a sieve.
Shake the screen back and forth to drain the water and distribute the kozo evenly.
Carefully remove the paper from the screen, dry it in the sun, and it's done.

At the ``WASHI YOSHI'' workshop held in Japan, we deliberately sand the mulberry to make it uneven in the bamboo basket, layer colored mulberry on top of each other, and create small holes in the mulberry. It seems that each participant is enjoying the original art.

In addition to paper making, I also learned how to make Kinkarakami paper. You can make such wonderful things! I was so impressed! (My son loves gold, so he was overjoyed when I brought it home.)

We use paper casually on a daily basis, but when you think about how each sheet of paper used to go through many processes in the past, it makes you think, ``Thank you so much,'' even for paper made with machines today. ” It seems that the feeling will grow!

Ayako-sensei carefully checking the drying paper was illuminated by the sunlight and looked very impressive.
Ayako-sensei checking that the paper is dry

Thank you very much Lauren-san, Ayako-sensei, and Tomo-san! Thank you for your hard work!

``WASHI YOSHI'' Instagram You can see the workshop held in Rhode Island and creative works using various handmade washi papers.

"Art Annex" Instagram This is the studio of LAUREN PEARLMAN SUGITA and SUZI BALLENGER in Pawtucket . Various interesting workshops are held here. ● ``Paper Connection'' website Lauren's company sells Japanese paper and Japanese paper accessories.

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

Multimedia Artist - Elisa Lanzi September 09 2022

Let's jump in and let Elisa take you on her journey: How would you define your artwork, technique, and paper application?
Elisa Lanzi
Now November, artist book with monotype prints, Hemp White hinged Leporello, poem by artist, 6 x 30 inches, open
I consider myself a multimedia artist working at the intersection of printmaking, papermaking, and collage. And paper is at the heart of most of my work. My creative process is ongoing - involving eyes, mind, heart, and hands. Color stirs my spirit - - in nature, in art, and in everyday life. I’m always hungry for “fresh” so working across and among different materials and techniques suits me. You will find original hand-pulled prints, collage constructions, handmade paper works, and artist books with my poems. A recent artist book in Leporello style, Now November, is a good example of this convergence. The hinges (using Hemp White washi from Paper Connection) are a meaningful unifying detail in this work. A Leporello is an accordion book that can be unfolded like a panorama. Share insights into your process and current projects. This year I was inspired by a song I had heard in a recent workshop on art and racism at Zea Mays Printmaking (Florence, MA), and later, I re-immersed myself in the music of John and Alice Coltrane. I was suddenly struck by John’s simple remedy in times of crisis: “One positive thought produces millions of positive vibrations.” A single vibration provides the spark, vibrations abound, connecting, merging, bridging, and flowering; they ultimately produce the energy needed to build a new and better world. My response was an artist book and box, Positive Vibrations. This work is featured in a current show called “Another World is Possible” in Northampton, MA.
Positive Vibrations, artist book with drypoint monoprints, handmade paper hinges, Leporello format, 8″ x 32″ open; banner, 2 ½ “ x 21 ½ “ open; box (not shown), 2022
I’m involved in a multitude of processes, many at the same time. Printmaking takes place in my home studio and at Zea Mays Printmaking. Currently, I’m working with a process called Litho Monoprints. Using photographs as a starting point (both mine and my husband’s), I create non-toxic polyester plates that can be inked up for hand-pulled prints. The prints and plate can be modified with different color inks, chine collé, and hand marking. The result is a series of hand-pulled monoprints, each one unique. One of my favorite workspaces for laying out books and collage is the old oak table in my sunny dining room. Then, in the summer I set up some DIY papermaking in my garage in lieu of being in a larger papermaking studio. I keep notebooks with sketches and writings when I’m working on a project and traveling. I take many photographs of color and light as well as the built world. But, not everything starts as an art project. For example, at one point I became deeply involved in personal family ancestry while I was teaching the history of papermaking. Those two activities inspired me to create art resulting in a solo show called “Silk Roads/Paper Trails.” I do a lot of envisioning based on something I saw, heard, or read related to a particular subject. I always laugh when I think of Jasper Johns who said, “One night I dreamed that I painted a large American flag, and the next morning I got up and I went out and bought the materials to begin it.” While I don’t paint my dreams per se, I do a lot of dreaming-up artworks at 2 o’clock in the morning. Why do you create? What is the meaning behind your work? What influences inspire you and why? Nature, astonishingly simple, yet mysterious is the essence of my art. I work with the phenomena of our physical world tied up with nature as an inherent part of our humanness. Much of my work is about crossings made in transitory times — a shift from season to season, crossing the sea from one shore to another. Chasing the waning light of previous ages or embarking on a new venture, crossings are inevitable. Given my inclination to wander, I draw inspiration from sojourns to favorite haunts: from Portugal, Venice, and Sicily to the American West and Maine. I am fascinated with seeing how common visual motifs span centuries and geography, emerging in similar and diverse ways in these locales. The sea is a constant – it conveys art, makers, and goods that connect these places. Cultural migrations, conquests, religion, and mythology are woven into the mix. Lately, I’ve been exploring ways to visually respond to the topsy-turvy 21st-century world we are faced with. What does it even mean to make art today? The resulting works deal with personal and universal reckonings – the havoc wreaked by gun violence, the devastating social and climate effects of fast fashion, geoengineering the climate, and the anguish of refugee journeys to name but a few. My Shelter in Place series explores the natural human instinct to escape during times of trouble, especially at this pandemic
Craving Shelter, artist book and accompanying poem banner, Hanji hinged Leporello style, collages with hand-pulled monotype prints and text, 12 x 48 inches (open), 12 x 12 inches (closed), 4 x 40 inches (open), 4 x 10 inches (closed), 2022
moment. It includes several monotype prints and an artist book called Craving Shelter. A selection of that work is currently on view at The Fountain Street Gallery, Boston. How did your creative journey bring you to this place? I grew up in an art household in Rochester, New York. My father was an artist and we kids always had paints, markers, and rolls of paper to play with. At one point I wanted to be a fashion designer and I drew hundreds of shoe advertisements with 60’s era captions like “Spring Fling.” Our family vacations usually involved visiting museums. I remember envying my friends who got to go to the Adirondacks to Santa’s Land while we were stuck at MOMA. Now I treasure that upbringing. Since then, I’ve created art through study and practice. My college art history and literature studies were accompanied by studio work and later advanced by apprenticeships and workshops. As a 15 + year member of Zea Mays Printmaking Studio, I am skilled in multiple green printmaking practices. Recently I earned the “Certificate in Green Printmaking, Intaglio” from their school. My formative papermaking experience was at Trout Paper, a hand-papermaking atelier in Washington County, New York. A few years ago, I stepped away from a long career in libraries and museums. While I was making art the whole time, it took a back seat to other pursuits. Now I’ve been recalibrating -- moving into life as a full-time artist with all that it entails. I’ve immersed myself in local and regional art communities; Zea Mays Printmaking Studio, The Boston Printmakers, Fountain Street Gallery (Boston), and the Monotype Guild of New England. In addition to making art, I enjoy curating, giving talks, and teaching workshops. Can you describe the importance of paper (or other mediums) in your work, what type of paper (medium) you use most, and why?
Two layered print: Soft Landing, monotype, carborundum collagraph, relief; Unryushi paper over Rives BFK paper, 22 x 10 inches, 2021
In the early 1980s, I was working at Bennington College as a librarian. There I met one of my art mentors, Sophia Healy, who taught art at the college. She became a seminal influence on both my art and writing. Sophia had worked with Ken Noland when he was experimenting with handmade paper. I joined her papermaking studio called Trout Paper and learned not just about handmade paper but how to approach art as a practice. I use my own handmade rag paper and all kinds of other paper depending on the work. Like most paper lovers I have a considerable hoard (old, new purchased, traded, found, etc.). For printmaking, I run the gamut, from the substantial Fabriano Pescia to Zerkall Litho to the ethereal Kitakata. Collage affords me the most freedom to explore how papers “react” to each other. For example, a recent work, Soft Landing, comprises two layers of Akua ink monotype prints: a sheet of translucent Unryushi placed over Rives BFK paper. Why this medium? Can you elaborate/reflect on your work and future forecasting? Recto/Verso I, monotype, chine collé, collage, on Hemp Kinwashi paper, printed on both sides, 34 x 22 inches, 2018When I started making artist books, I was looking for ways to move my paper vocabulary into three dimensions by experimenting with text and narrative. It feels natural to express myself in a visual form. I also thrive on solving complex design problems, which is why collage is one of my go-to formats. But the artist's books are usually smaller scale. A few years ago, I created a large-scale diptych, Recto/Verso I and II, that was suspended from the ceiling and free-floating. Today I’m going back/moving forward with creating larger works that incorporate painting, printmaking, and paper. Are there papers from Paper Connection that you can speak about, provide insights, elaborations, process, and/or integrity of quality? I discovered Paper Connection International (PCI) many years ago when Lauren did a site visit to Zea Mays Printmaking. My first paper purchase from PCI was a Kozo Honen, which I used to make monotype stencils. Since then, I have always used washi for stencils so that I can reuse them in collage and chine collé. When I began making hinged accordion books, I needed a strong flexible paper that stood up to frequent opening and closing.
Sunscreen, artist book with recycled monotype prints, washi, collage and haiku poem,
with An-Jing Unryu Heavyweight Mint with Gold Leaf paper cover, 6 x 11 ½ “, 7 pages plus cover and wrapper with stand-up card, 2021
Hanji (Korean mulberry paper) is perfect, especially since there are so many beautiful colors. Sometimes I crave a very special paper to use “as is.” The cover of my artist book Sunscreen is made from the gorgeous An-Jing Unryu Heavyweight Mint, with Gold Leaf. I also love being able to work with PCI papers in my inkjet and laser printers. The Digital and Experimental Photo Paper Sampler provides plenty of options. I now have a paper swatch file to keep myself on track. It’s fun rifling through the papers, feeling the textures, and seeing the array of colors. I’ve been doing an annual talk called "Rags to Riches: History and Contemporary Perspectives on Papermaking” for the Smith College Book Studies concentration students. For that, I made hinged accordion booklets of curated “Various and Sundry Swatches” for each student. The booklets are unique - the swatches are a mix of my own handmade paper (linen/cotton, plant fibers such as leeks and cornhusks) and Eastern papers (e.g., Echizen from Japan and An-Jing from China) from Paper Connection. These little booklets were born as I was making other artist book projects using upcycled and remixed papers and prints. Are there questions no one has asked concerning your creative process, philosophy, or recent experience you’d like to share? People are sometimes shy about asking an artist how they deal with rough patches. I’m an artist, but I also love to cook. Making art is a bit like cooking. Sometimes I don’t know until I “taste” it. I try not to get too caught up in the rightness or wrongness when I’m working. I’ve finally opted out of the “knife of the perfectionist attitude in art” (Louise Bogan, 1934) which is a killer for a creative person (and a cook!). When I get stuck, it’s usually because I am overthinking or just plain tired. That’s when I let go and allow myself to “rest.” If I’m making paper, I play with forming simple color sample sheets. If I’m printing or doing collage, I stop and photograph the print and flip it upside down. Believe me, right away you can spot the beautiful moments and jarring gaffes in your work! If you could converse with any artist present/past, who would it be and what would you ask? Joan Mitchell’s paintings and prints always suck me in with their incredible emotional revelations layered on to nature. I would like to ask her: “How do you deal with overt sentimentality when it enters into your art? How do you draw the line between private emotions that might upset others and the need for our own free expression? Is there a line?” As you may discern from my art, I am influenced by the late work of Matisse, specifically the cut-outs and stencils. Unfortunately, he had to deal with multiple health problems as he aged; he and I share a particular one. I would ask him: “How did you remain creative while dealing with physical pain? Does aging change your artist’s eye?” Do you have any upcoming shows or installations in progress? If so, please provide info so we can direct our readers.

Aug. 29 - Sept. 25, 2022 SoWa ArtWalk: Sept. 9th, 5 - 8 pm “Elisa Lanzi, Jim Fenzel, Ellen Foust” Fountain Street Gallery 460C Harrison Ave. #2 Boston MA

Sept. 8 - Oct. 8, 2022 Opening Reception: Friday, Sept. 9th, 5 - 8 pm “Another World is Possible” Zea Mays Printmaking Biennial, Juried by Shichio Minato and Juana Valdes A.P.E. Gallery 126 Main St. Northampton, MA Do you have an online portfolio or other sites where folks can view more of your work? If so, please provide address. www.elisalanzi.com Zea Mays Flat File Project Elisa Lanzi on instagram

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: Kelsey@Sustainablepapercraft.com cherrypitcollective.com Cherry Pit Collective on Facebook Cherry Pit Collective on Instagram
Fricka Jones - Artist, Writer, Editor
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SUSTAINABLE PAPER+CRAFT on Ancestral Land in Kansas City, MO April 04 2022


KelsKelsey Pikeey Pike, papermaker, printmaker, and art teacher in Kansas City, Missouri, creates fine handmade papers and products using varied materials that may include rags, raw plant fibers, filaments, threads, gold leaf, and whatever she can get her hands on. Her aesthetics are pure magic. “I have been in love with the obscure and tedious art form of hand papermaking since . . . art school.” In 2021, Pike aimed more of her time making single-run handmade papers. While white papers were her bread and butter, she longed for variety, experimentation, and collaboration with fellow artists/designers. Kelsey’s Monthly Paper Parcel was born with curated and unique colorways offered as a cyclic subscription.
Kelsey Making Paper at Cherry Pit Collective Kelsey Making Paper at Cherry Pit Collective
“. . . the sound of the water, the repetitive motions, the solitude – they put me in a meditative space.”
Monthly Paper Parcel Examples Monthly Paper Parcel Examples
Wet-process, two-sided, de-bossed or gradient sheets, and papers with varietal inclusions such as gold leaf, threads, or fabrics. Each month subscribers receive a package perfect for artists, imagineers, and the creatively curious. “Good craft is important to me, and I am continuously studying, practicing, and learning to make the best paper.” Cherry Pit Collective Kansas City MO Kelsey Pike also 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 monthly programs that include classes and events for skill sharing within the community, fostering collaboration over competition. All are welcome, but female-identifying artists and members of other marginalized communities take priority. ​Cherry Pit Collective resides on ancestral land belonging to the people of Kiikaapo (Kikapoo), Wazhazhe Mazhá (Osage), Kaw (Kansa), and Očhéthi Šakówin (Sioux). “We honor with gratitude the land itself and the people who have and continue to steward it.” You can locate Kelsey and her gorgeous papers and products through: Kelsey@Sustainablepapercraft.com Sustainable Paper+Craft Cherry Pit Collective Instagram Facebook Etsy
Kelsey and Lauren at Cherry Pit Collective Kelsey and Lauren at Cherry Pit Collective

fricka - artist not in residence

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Providence Monthly Focus on PCI February 26 2021

Check it out!

Lauren P. Sugita | Providence Media (providenceonline.com)
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


Back to the Future March 06 2019

All thanks to attending Matrices in October 2018, I returned to Iowa City 28 years later! This is where the seeds of my idea to form an independent, handmade paper business were sowed and fertilized. So I am still here, almost 3 decades later, with a fully grown paper business!: Paper Connection in Providence, RI. Above the "guru" himself! My "paper father", Tim Barrett, the author of the books: Japanese Papermaking and European Hand Papermaking. Making the crazy-big 27 foot handmade paper sheet with people I adore and respect. Photo above by Kathryn Clark, taken at University of Iowa, October, 2018. The big sheet was a big feat that made news in the local newspaper! Photo above by Barry Phipps taken at University of Iowa, October, 2018. Above photo of me with my paper "aunt and uncle"(?) Howie and Kathryn Clark,
founders of Twinrocker Paper at University of Iowa, October, 2018.
What's the plan in 2019? We are currently changing our webshop to a new platform, so please hang in there with us
while we ride over any bumps on the road. Many aspects of my paper life are shifting this year; mainly to education;
learning, more papermaking practice and more teaching.
I am working on creating a community space for teaching paper-related arts as a branch to the business at Paper Connection.
Thank you to those who filled out our survey.

Washi in My Everyday Life November 30 2018

washi ningyo, printmaking, kakishibu, unryushi Streaming sunshine illuminates this handmade print on kakishibu dyed unryu paper - illustrating the warmth and translucency of washi. Washi ningyo (paper doll) kimono on right.
Part 2 – Wonderful Washi
Richard Flavin, Ryoko Haraguchi, Sind, Tokyo, kakishibu stitched kaikshibu washi shoulder bag by Richard Flavin and Ryoko Haraguchi.
While washi (Japanese paper) is a long-lasting Japanese traditional craft, how it became an important part of Japanese culture is almost forgotten even by most Japanese. In thinking about washi's role in etiquette, social rituals, and some possibly overlooked utilitarian uses, in this post, I want to show you some of my personal selection of everyday paper items , as well as paper objects I see everyday outside.
knitted paper, paper yarn, shifu, paper thread, paper shawl Knitted paper shawl used as a curtain, allows filtering of light and provides a subtle screen of privacy.
Of course, there are endless applications for paper in the Western world; like its use in thinks book or art conservation, book arts, calligraphy, printmaking, painting, collage and so on. However, there are also those strictly Japanese paper arts, which are fairly well-known to the average modern day Japanese. For example, shōdo (Japanese style calligraphy),
money envelopes with noshi
chigiri-e, landscape, paper painting, paper collage Chigiri-e landscape.
chigiri-e (paper-tearing collage),and washi ningyo (paper dolls). Shōji and fusuma (sliding doors in Japanese style rooms) are quite common home interior components used everyday. Ritualistic uses of paper seen every day in daily life in Japan. Omikuji or horoscope papers tied to a branch or wooden stand.
omikuji, horoscope, superstition, Japanese life Omikuji or paper horoscope tied to a wooden stand on temple grounds. Photo take Sept, 2018
gohei, kamisama, shintoukyou, tohoku gohei (zig zag shaped papers) representing god, with rope (shimenawa) around old, red cypress tree. Photo taken Sept. 2018
Gohei hung from a shimenawa (rope) in this case around an ancient and sacred red cypress tree. Reminiscent of Miyazaki's Tonari no Totoro background scenes, yes? Washi , as you can tell, is one of my first loves in the realm of paper. My relationship with washi grew more intimate after moving to Japan in the 1980's, attempting to immerse myself in the Japanese culture and language. I came to learn that washi's inherent beauty exudes special powers of joy to those who use it. More than 50 years of collecting ephemera, close to 30 years of selling washi ; (now via Paper Connection), and working with the endearing papermakers in Japan, has lead me to this state of chronic washi-on-the-brain. Washi is part of my daily life both physically and emotionally and I really don't mind at all!

Evolution of a Paper Passion: Japan June 14 2018

katazome, washi, vintage, Japanese paper, Japan Vintage resist-dyed pattern- katazome paper.
Part I ­­– Inspiration: My passion for washi (Japanese paper) and washi craft objects was sparked in the late 60's when my mother returned from visiting Japan with a suitcase full of goodies. My attraction to anything paper grew strong, as did my intention to visit Japan someday.
Japanese paper,washi, sensu, yoji, gohei, shimenawa, pochibukuro, folding fan, mizuhiki, Japan Inspiring collections include everyday objects made with washi.
Fast forward to the 1980's; I moved to Japan, and while living there I experienced how washi was made by hand. Living in Japan for 4 years, I was immersed in the complex, inspiring craft history of Japan. Back in the USA, I took a job as Art Director and was in charge of a significant collection of Japanese craft, folk art and washi. These experiences allowed me to gain great knowledge of Japanese craft decorative techniques, but also set in motion a greater appreciation for the magical creation of a simple, undecorated piece of handmade paper; specifically washi. I am steadfast in my endeavor to articulate and impart to the next generation, the intense labor involved in birthing a simple piece of pure, handmade paper. In addition, to portray Japanese paper's wonderful and ubiquitous nature in everyday Japanese life. In 1989, I began selling washi in the United States and continued my research into the history of hand and machine papermaking methods. In 1992, I shared in this passion when I facilitated a one-week long papermaking and paper craft, multi-workshop event in the Boston area.
washi, nagashizuki, kozo, Peabody Essex, Kochi, Tosa Washi, Japanese paper, Japan, Salem Leading a demonstration at the 1992 Tosa Washi papermakers forum in Salem, MA.
I co-hosted 20 paper artists from Japan with the Peabody Essex Museum. This immersive time with Japanese traditional papermakers and artists, was pivotal. It became crystal clear to me that this passion was about connection and commitment to this rich history and the individuals living it. From that point on, I dedicated myself to supporting these and other traditional makers and artists in their endeavors and thus bringing their paper world into my world. I am fortunate to continue this work as the Founder and Director of Paper Connection International, LLC in Providence, Rhode Island. With residences in both the USA and Japan, I travel back and forth several times a year. May passion and commitment to this vision continues to grow through Paper Connection; a resource for connecting artisan paper-makers, artists and those who are passionate about preserving and promoting all things paper!
washi, Japanese paper, Japan, Hatano, oiled paper, floor cloth, wallpaper Handmade, oiled paper by the talented Mr. Wataru Hatano - patterns inspired through the meeting of traditional and contemporary washi techniques.