Paper Crafting: Calm within the Storm April 12 2021

Meditative Repetition

Paper Connection's Artist-in-Residence talks about rhythmic ease.
Using PCI Papers
It's wonderful to create but sometimes there is hesitation in starting something new or sometimes we don't consider ourselves a real creator. News Flash: We are creators and have been from the get-go. Take a jog back to your newborn self. You're hungry and wet. Your baby self thinks, "look what happens when I cry." And guess what? That baby got fed and diapered, and all was good in the world. That's the creator speaking. That baby didn't think, "I can't do that." That baby said, "I need to solve these issues I'm having." So don't fake yourself out or analyze too much. Take a minute to realize every solving proposition, every yearning, every curiosity is an opportunity to create. We do it every day without a second thought. Yes, well, we aren't all Michaelangelo. Sure, that's true, but then again, no one is you, except you. I mean - like read Dr. Seuss. He knew this stuff. So here's a fun project to make you laugh out loud and say, "Whoa, look what I just did." Make no mistake, you need to learn. Once you get the hang of creating individual origami-like modules, you'll own your own build. You can repeat and grow your design. Whether waterfall, topographical map, caterpillar, pyramid, or whatever makes you twinkle. No two, like those amazing snowflakes, will ever be quite alike. Get out your paper, straight edge, flat surface, and maybe a gluestick (tape, glue gun, stapler) and I'll show you how to get going. I've even provided a video for all you visual thinkers. Note: This project is meditative, repetitive, and soothing. So put on a rerun of "Sisters," "Sabrina," "Grace and Frankie," "Six Feet Under," or "Chef John." Watch or listen to what makes you happy and if your table needs to be set for 6 p.m. dinner, find an out-of-the-way place to fold, cut, and glue. BTW, easy on the gluestick. It's super great to make your piece changeable. Don't be intimidated. You can do this. It's building blocks that fit together. There is no right way, just your way. Trust in yourself and I beg you, don't hyper-criticalize . . . is that a word? My video helps. I also pulled from the internet a line-drawn folding tutorial you might find helpful module making. So you know, the beginnings of my process did not start with beautiful paper. No way was I using Lauren's (PCI's) handmade paper when I had no clue what I was creating. Be experimental and curious. For example, I used the pages from a catalog the first time around. The paper was way too thin. One sheet wasn't enough so I doubled up (or more). I also found that humidity with "catalog" paper caused major bowing of edges. Fine for an experiment but not great for an end result. Final materials for my piece:
  • PCI Papers: Lokta Paper from Nepal, Hand made An-Jing from China made from Xuan Fiber, Echizen from Japan, Moyou-Shi from Kochi Japan (Note: this process requires that each piece of paper is square and the same size)
  • Straight edge
  • Sharp cutting edge (scissors, Exacto, knife)
  • Matt board (something to cut on that you don't care if your knife makes a mark on)
  • Gluestick (tape, glue gun, stapler)
If you get into the whole origami aspect of this process, here's another cool tutorial area to take you further. I would love to see your creations! Learn How to Make Origami With These Easy Online Tutorials ( Diversity of Texture

Contact Lauren @ PCI for great paper options.

All images courtesy of Fricka

fricka - artist in residence - our papers help tell your story. want more?

Mimi King: Appreciative Evolution August 10 2020

Cups of Cheer: Proceeds support Feed More, an non-profit providing healthy options to anyone with limited food access.
Paper Connection was thrilled to catch up with Mimi King as her career evolves with new projects soon-to-be announced on Mimi's Instagram.

A Deep Love for Slow Processes, Strength of Commitment, and Lifting the Community

Mimi's work sparks joy while raising money to support BIPOC (Black and Indigenous Person/People of Color) and those experiencing food insecurity.
Cups of Cheer "tea bag" - up front and center!


PCI: Mimi, how would you define what you do? MK: I am a printmaker and analog collage artist, I use a combination of intaglio, monotype, and fabric. PCI: Can you share insights into your process and current studio projects? MK: There are always about ten different projects going at once to allow space to think through each piece and keep myself active. One of my core beliefs is that we as individuals cannot rise unless we use our skills, time, and/or money to lift our community. To that end, I’m working on a couple of projects to support communities in need. The Cups of Cheer Project is a collection of small gampi “tea bags” filled with recycled cotton fabrics which can be used as bookmarks or framed wall art. 80% of proceeds go to Feed More, an organization providing food to anyone who doesn’t have access to healthy options. Once a month, I auction an original collage on a cradled board, donating 80% of proceeds to Girls For A Change, who “empower young women to design, lead, fund, and implement social change in their own neighborhoods”. I plan to expand this further in the future, so I can support more organizations like these.
The Order of Hypnales, XI
Strawberry Lemonade
PCI: Can you speak about your life trajectory and influences that brought you to this place in your artwork and/or creating your current works? MK: Growing up in a working class family prepared me for the print studio more than I ever thought. I stepped into printmaking with an ethic of not shying away from hard work and the understanding to take the time to do something right yields far better results than simply focusing on efficiency and speed. From soaking the paper, to mixing the ink, working in the print studio teaches one to appreciate the process. I've always admired the richness of the arts and culture of Japan, especially coming from a country less than 250 years old. Studying abroad in Hamamatsu and the Kansai region will always be one of my most treasured life experiences. One fall pottery class, my professor reminded me many times to go slowly, to enjoy the learning process. “少しずつ, 少しずつ” (sukoshizutsu, sukoshizutsu, little by little, slowly), he’d say throughout the day, something I tell myself when I hurtle full-on into a new technique. The dedication to craft, to learning a skill gradually and correctly is a Japanese practice I am continuously building into my studio practice. Nearsightedness has played a large role in the way I view the world. I lean in, hold things close to my eyes, seek out the nuances of a leaf, a flower, a brick wall, moss. I create tiny details in my work as a way of sharing the joy I feel daily when my world moves from impressionism to clarity using visual aids. PCI: Which artist/people in your life most influenced and inspire you and in what way? MK: Both of my parents are very artistically minded, my dad is a fabricator and inventor, he can make anything. Whenever I have a building project or concept for a new way of presenting a piece, he’s the first person I talk to. My mom taught me many of the tricks I still use to draw landscape elements; I remember asking her to “help me make it look real” because I didn’t like the way we drew trees in kindergarten. “Broccoli trees” just didn’t do it for me. I didn’t really approach art seriously until I reached university. I have Tanja Softic, my former printmaking professor, to thank for my printing skills and love of paper. She teaches me so much, constantly. We have very different printmaking styles, but whenever I help print one of her editions, I’m thinking the entire time of how I can implement aspects of the way she builds up images. The way I layer prints with hand coloring and collage really comes from watching her chine collé and collaging elements onto finished prints, especially chiyogami pieces. PCI: Can you describe the importance of paper in your work and what type of paper (medium) you use most? MK: Paper is a truly remarkable substrate - it is lightweight, easy to store and transport, it can be soft, hard, molded, dyed, drawn/printed on. Paper offers me a freedom other mediums do not as readily. If a piece isn’t satisfactory, I can slip it in a drawer for a while, pull it out, cut it up, and use it as an element of another collage. I most often reach for Japanese papers, gampi for its translucency and wonderful way of holding ink on the surface. It is ideal for lightweight building and handles watercolor very well. Chiyogami, yuzen, and katazome are wonderful for collage, the pops of color and weight differences lend well to creating depth in collage. While I’ve been playing with the contrasts between cotton fabrics and paper recently, I will always come back to paper.
Melon Kakigori
Hanabi Kakigori
Butterfly Pea Kakigori
PCI: Can you talk about your interest in collage vs straight up printmaking techniques? Can you reflect within your work and beyond? MK: My use of collage came about as a way to undermine my inner critic, who is always quick to remind me that I “can’t draw”. If I “draw” through collage though, I’m not actually drawing and find myself better able to translate the form of the object from 3D to 2D. I also began using collage at a time when I couldn’t access the print studio with the aquatint boxes or etching baths. Now, I use collage to build layer, depth, shadow, texture - it’s a tool that enhances straight up printmaking techniques. This gives me the freedom to build an image and explore the physicality of paper. Japanese papers, due to their strength and translucency, have been perfect for delving into this concept further. One of the first things I notice when looking at the leaves of a tree or petals of a flower is their translucency in light and the shadows created when they overlap one another. Especially with a paper like gampi, the translucency of the paper once one or more layers of transparent ink is on it, really lends itself to layering. PCI: Are there any particular papers from Paper Connection that you can speak about, perhaps providing tips for usage or handling, and insights of the paper’s integrity and quality, etc. ? MK: I’ve never been disappointed by any of the papers I’ve ordered from Paper Connection! I highly recommend Usuyou Gampi, Kozo, Gampi, “Kitakata”, and Aiko’s Honen with sizing. I’ve used all but the Honen for monotype and etching, they handle the ink incredibly well. A number of student printmakers I’ve worked with have expressed a hesitancy over the seeming fragility of gampi, but the strength of the fibers is incredible if you respect the paper. I recommend using an archival film adhesive called Gudy O once prints have fully dried for collaging or in place of chine collé. Gudy O is fantastic because it doesn’t discolor the print and will actually increase the transparency of gampi. It also doesn’t lose its stickiness when I hand color prints, which I only begin after I’ve backed the paper with Gudy O. PCI: Are there particular questions that no one has asked with regards to your creative process, philosophy, or recent experience you’d like to share? MK: This is the first time I’ve been asked about my use of collage. Recently I was asked why I choose to cut by hand the tiny pieces of the moss etching in The Order of Hypnales series that I’ve been working on this year. Why not use a laser cutter or have a machine cut each piece out perfectly for me? My hands, my mind, my eyes are not machines, I am not perfect. If one looks closely, they can see that all my collages are cut by hand. My work is about understanding the world around me and the way my mind, hands, and eyes interpret it. Accepting and incorporating the imperfection of my handiwork is important to my artwork.
Flowers of Mara details
Flowers of Mara
PCI: One last question: If you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be? MK: Oh, this is such a difficult question! There are many incredible artists alive right now I want to speak with, and so many in the past who didn’t write their own history that I'd like to speak with. It would be amazing to have a one-on-one conversation with Danielle Krysa, the Jealous Curator, as a fellow collage artist, she’s had so many wonderful conversations with other artists. Listening to her podcasts have been incredibly uplifting and encouraging, particularly when I’ve been in deep places of doubt as a visual artist. All images thanks to Mimi King! Mimi will be having a studio sale on Instagram August 17-21 so check it out! - fricka a.i.r. – our papers help tell your story

Paper Sizing 101 March 13 2015

Sizing, dosa, wheat pasteMany of our readers are quite knowledgeable when it comes to sizing your own paper, especially sizing your "go-to" paper. Here is a step-by-step "recipe" for cooking up your own sizing and applying it to your favorite Eastern paper.
The photos shown here are mostly depicting sizing made from wheat starch. Nope!, it's not a gluten-free, but not a problem for the paper, and a nice alternative to animal-based sizing. Exciting news regarding plant-based sizing... last night we received a new Eastern paper, already pre-sized with devil's root starch, "konnyaku" -no animals used at all with this process, only human labor. Photos will be posted soon on social media. We have entertained many varying viewpoints on sizing and sizing recipes. What are yours? Please share below, along with your experiences in making your own sizing. In the meantime, enjoy our sizing tests, made in our paper "kitchen", here in Providence. Adding sizing to paper affects the paper fibers’ sensitivity to humidity, absorption, and bleeding. There are many materials that can be used to size paper; we will cover the sizing procedure for gelatin size and wheat paste. It is not unlike cooking, where 90% of the procedure is preparation. This method allows for easy application with a large soft-bristle brush.

Gelatin Sizing Recipe:

This is the recipe for rabbit skin glue that can be used to size paper. (Please note: the gelatin size will need to be prepared 8-12 hours in advance.) What you will need:
  • Rabbit skin glue: 1/3 Cup (powdered or solid sticks)
  • Crystalline Alum: 1 Pinch (potassium aluminum sulfate)
  • Double boiler with lid (a glass jar and sauce pan will also work)
  • 16–32 oz. plastic / glass container (glass is recommended)
  • Soft-bristle brush
Step One: Soak the glue in a quart of cold water for several hours until it swells and softens. (With solid sticks this may take overnight or 12+ hours). Sizing, dosa, animal skin glue Step Two: Once the glue has softened and becomes gelatinous, heat in a double boiler. The mixture should be stirred continuously until the gelatin has dissolved and the glue has become one consistent solution. (Note: never allow glue to boil). Remove from heat and stir in 1 pinch of alum. Allow the glue to cool slightly and apply warm to your paper. Apply one coat to the side you intend to use and allow to dry completely on newsprint. Additional coats may be added as necessary. Sizing, dosa, animal skin glue, wheat pasteSizing, dosa, animal skin glue, wheat paste Sizing, dosa, animal skin glue, wheat paste The remaining size solution can be saved in a jar in the refrigerator, and only requires heating to be used again. Note that storage length will vary from weeks to even months depending on several factors. Water quality is most important - bacteria and particulates can promote mold, and temperature should not be extreme. Solution should not freeze nor temps be too high. Sizing, dosa, animal skin glue, wheat pasteSizing, dosa, animal skin glue, wheat paste

Wheat Paste Recipe:

This is the recipe for wheat paste that can be used to size paper.(Please note: the wheat paste will need to be prepared one day in advance.) What you will need:
  • Wheat starch: 1/3 cup
  • Double boiler with lid (a glass jar and sauce pan will also work)
  • 16–32 oz. plastic / glass container (glass is recommended)
  • Measuring cup (1/4 cup – 1/2 cup size)
  • Soft-bristle brush
  • Nylon fabric
Step One: Fill the bottom of the double boiler with cold water and place on your heat source at a medium heat setting and bring to a low boil. (Alternatively, if you do not have a double boiler a glass jar placed in a saucepan works as well. Add enough water to submerge 1/3 of the jars height.) Sizing, dosa, wheat paste Step Two: While you are waiting, measure out your wheat starch and water. We used a 4:1 ratio. 4 parts water to 1 part wheat starch: 11/3 cup of water to 1/3 cup of wheat starch. Mix the starch and water together in the top pan of the double boiler, (or the jar for those who are not using the double boiler) Mix thoroughly, making sure none of the starch has stuck to the bottom. The resulting mixture should be an opaque white solution resembling milk. Sizing, dosa, wheat paste Sizing, dosa, wheat paste Sizing, dosa, wheat paste Once you have mixed the ingredients place the pan over the boiling water (or place your jar in the pan) and stir continuously until the mixture begins to thicken. The mixture will thicken to the consistency of heavy cream and small “chunks” will begin to form. Continue stirring until smooth and the mixture has the consistency of custard. Sizing, dosa, wheat paste Step Three: Now the mixture can be covered and allowed to cook over a low boil for 25 minutes, with a quick stir every 5 minutes. The paste should continue to thicken and become somewhat translucent as it cooks. After you’ve allowed the paste to cook, add small amounts of hot water from the pan to your mixture and stir until the paste is smooth and custard like. Sizing, dosa, wheat paste Sizing, dosa, wheat paste Pour the paste from your pan into your designated container and allow it to cool in a refrigerator over night. This is to allow the paste to gel into a homogeneous solid. Sizing, dosa, wheat paste Step Four: Once the paste has gelled, wring a small amount through a piece of fabric: nylon, cotton, handkerchief, etc… Slowly add small amounts of water and mix with a brush until the paste is thin enough to apply with a brush to your paper. Apply one coat to each side and allow to dry completely on newsprint. Additional coats may be added as necessary. Sizing, dosa, wheat pasteSizing, dosa, wheat paste Sizing, dosa, wheat pasteSizing, dosa, wheat paste Remember: As with all size, test for each use, and dilute as appropriate. If in doubt, thin and apply multiple coats. Allow the paper to completely dry between each coat. The best way to learn how much size to use, and when to use it is through experience and experimentation. Sizing, dosa, wheat paste, gelatin, rabbit skin glue

DIY Container Wrapping Tutorial February 14 2014

DIY, upcycle, marbled paper, hand made, craft, containerHow about wrapping a simple empty cookie tin to pretty-up your desk or kitchen storage, make a quick vase or gift?

After our last DIY tutorial, we felt ready to tackle wrapping a tin with some beautiful hand-made marbled lokta from Nepal to make a unique up-cycled object. What you will need: Frame supplies editTIN-1 Step One: Cut down a piece of paper to the size of the tin, leaving about a 1/4 inch extra on the top and bottom and at least one inch added to the length. Apply a coat of glue to the backside of the paper, and make sure you get all the edges.TIN-2Step Two: Place the tin centered (vertically) on the paper leaving an extra 1/4 inch on the top and bottom to be folded over later. Align the tin at one end of the paper and roll it slowly with two hands, smoothing the paper from the center out as you go. TIN-3TIN-4 Step Three: Pinch the extra paper around the edge of the tin on the top and bottom. Cut out a circle big enough to cover exposed tin area on bottom and adhere cut circle with glue. Burnish out any wrinkles and you're done! You can apply a clear coat of acrylic medium to the finished object to protect the surface, and add a slight sheen. This will also make the colors appear more saturated. You can also rub a clear wax candle (solid wax) to cover the paper to create a barrier, helping resist oil stains and fingerprints.TIN-5TIN-6

Stripped Down February 17 2012

This artwork by Nathalie Boutté simply awed, amazed, and inspired me: She recycles paper strips into these simple, yet obviously complicated, images: I have some leftover strips of washi hanging around the office, literally, strips. I mean, tiny strips. But let's not give anything to waste. So, if anyone is willing to up-cycle and create something beautiful with it, give me a ring!
Merci, Nathalie!

Eco-Conscious in France February 25 2011

Have you ever been to Urciers, France? I have not myself, but became curious about the place upon hearing about it from one of my colleagues. She recently sold some fabric online to a customer there, and referred me to some pretty cool happenings in the center of France. What most peaked my interest is a charming B&B Sagrolle, where you can make paper out of recycled materials and plant fibers, as well as paint with earth pigments. Other workshops include mixed media and collage, as you immerse yourself in French country living. Wouldn't you love to vacation in a charming B&B in rural France, and hand make some paper to boot? Shown below are some works by Debbie at Sagrolle. You can find more at her art site art-studio-36. She is currently working on making paper using a totally sustainable source of willow fiber. And as a truly green, earth-loving artist would do, she intends to convert the leftover hardwood branch cores into artist charcoal. We look forward to seeing the new works soon. Go Debbie!

Net Zero Work-It's a good thing! January 15 2011

As many of you probably read, Martha Stewart has recently joined the green movement: she is collaborating with KB Home to provide a line of green homes. These homes would consume less energy than it produces over a course of a year, considered as a net-zero energy home. Anyone can help their workplace become a net-zero space. Here are Paper Connection International, we try our best to recycle, reuse, and be inventive with the way we do business. Of course, we carry tree-free papers goods, but as far as office duties go, for the past 15 years we've consistently maintained some earth-conscious habits, continually striving for a net-zero office and warehouse. As you peruse through our green gallery, please share any net-zero tips you practice at home or work. Take a peek at our resourceful ways: Whatever packaging we receive with incoming shipments, we promptly store away to use for outgoing. As many of you know, we send out our paper rolled. The tubes above were formerly used as the inner core for fabric bolts, but now are used as the inner support when we ship our precious paper.

Art Laboratory January 15 2011

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. waste. September 23 2010

Who wrote this desk? The desk in the architecture library at Delft University of Technology is made from recycled books. Found via illusion 360

Never Throw Anything Away, For Art's Sake!(Tiny Paper Arts) September 12 2010

Now this is really recycling...
I missed salsa night at Waterfire in Providence this summer. Thanks to artist Anastassia Elias, I get to imagine myself there inside this little world. Check out more of her amazing work here: found via illusion 360