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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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Wind Up to Wind Down February 23 2021

Creative Break

Wind up chicken originally found on Etsy
Take a reprieve from the world. Each day - to un-stick. Encourage others. In fact, set the example and make a "Zoom" field trip to a gallery during lunch. Bring your friends along. See what others have done/are doing. It will yield wonderful results as you take a break and get out of your head. Guaranteed! You'll be doing "the sushi" from plastic nico before you know it!

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.

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: contactus@paperconnection.com


Paper, Printmaking, and Portland! March 25 2016

What do all these have in common? They are all being celebrated at this year's Southern Graphics Council International Conference, hosted by the Pacific Northwest College of Art. This year's theme is FLUX, and appropriately so, as today's artists draw on their talents, resources, and inspiration in response to changing times in the printmaking world. As they are in that flux state, we are eager to see what images are created, and to learn more about the techniques used. Of course, we want to know what papers are popular, and Paper Connection will be there to offer our share of handmade washi, hanji, lokta, and other sustainable papers.
What papers to bring to Portland? What papers to bring to Portland?
Matthew Letzelter, Chair of Print Media at PNCA, took time out of his busy schedule to answer a few questions for us. PCI: What special events are not to be missed at this year's SGCI conference? ML: I expect the keynote lectures will be very memorable and worth making the effort to not miss. They are all incredible contributors to the field of printmaking and we will have some special guests involved with the James Rosenquist Keynote discussion. We will also have the James Rosenquist exhibition being shown at PNCA’s 511 Gallery to coincide with the keynote lecture and the SGC International Lifetime Achievement Award in Printmaking. This exhibition is being generously supported by the Jordan Schnitzer Family Foundation, which is also part of a newly developed series called the JORDAN D. SCHNITZER EXHIBITION AND VISITING ARTIST SERIES at PNCA. The exhibition will be a survey of Rosenquist's printmaking career that spans many decades of his creative practice paired up with some of the top professional printmaking studios in the world. We have a special conference donut being made by our local Voodoo Doughnut Company. We hope to have these strategically placed at conference locations. PCI: Yum! ML: There are now about 100 printmaking exhibitions in the Portland area being programmed for the conference. It shows how Portland is a hub for Printmaking. There are demos and projects at three institutions that span numerous print techniques, while also showcasing new technologies and processes. There will be a vendor and publisher fair to catch up on all the new products and work being produced by some of our members and friends of the council. We are also showing off some of the best printmaking studios in the NW region and proud to open up PNCA’s doors to our new printmaking facility. PCI: This all sounds truly exciting, and congratulations on your new facility! How will this year's conference be different than previous ones? What special spin does Portland have as a host city? ML: This will be only the second time the conference has come to the West coast. I think Portland’s unique location and offerings will be a highlight from past conferences. To me, one of the best parts about the conference is being able to explore a new location, with unique regional restaurants, stores, people, and sites that you might not find at your home location. This coupled with our theme of “Flux” and all the organized events by the council should not disappoint those coming to Portland. PNCA, PSU, OCAC and PCC will be sponsor institutions that traditionally collaborate within the print community and will be working together to make this conference happen. Portland has a unique culture of coffee, biking, DIY networks, designers, creative companies, acclaimed eateries and food carts along with all the weird NW traditions that journals and papers continue to highlight as a location not to miss. Portland is surrounded by snow-covered volcanoes and divided by rivers that cross the city defining neighborhoods and walkable destinations. It’s a welcoming environment that combines an urban setting and green spaces that continues to attract creative individuals and companies to our city. portland PCI: What goals does PNCA hope to achieve through this show? We heard rumors of a summer residency program? ML: One of our main goals is to promote the long history of printmaking that we have been promoting as a community in Portland. Highlighting PNCA as an historic art and design institution that has allowed printmaking to take a center stage in the school and has become a favorite area that most students access at some point in their degrees. We offer numerous programs at MFA and BFA levels as well as summer workshops and residencies. We also have Watershed, PNCA’s fine art publishing and research program that brings professional artists, printers and students together to collaborate in an environment that most programs could not begin to support. I hope the attendees of the conference will have a chance to see PNCA and Portland as a creative hub for printmaking. PCI: We are confident they will. What would you say is buzzing for this year-a certain printmaking process? There's been trends of laser cutting on traditionally handmade papers. ML: There were some great submissions for the events based on our theme of “FLUX” to promote a fluid environment utilizing technology with traditional processes to come up with new methods of making and hopefully healthier processes.
goathair Traditional, handmade brushes
PCI: What about inks, presses, or other materials? ML: There will be a variety of experimental approaches to printmaking that use conductive inks, new mechanical parts to change the functions of presses as well as some traditional methods that have been combine with technology to move our field forward. We are excited to also be involving two fabrication labs on two campuses along with many printmaking facilities and venues across the city. There might even be some new inks being developed by one of our favorite ink vendors in Portland... Gamblin! PCI: How much awareness exists for using Japanese and Korean handmade papers? Are they preferred for certain processes? What are some of the reasons for choosing these papers? ML: We have been lucky to have a mix of both Eastern and Western approaches incorporated into our print programs. Professional printers/faculty such as Paul Mullowney have continued to instigate new techniques with our students at PNCA to explore many traditional eastern approaches to paper backing, chine collé processes, and printing on eastern papers that have not fully been taught in other locations at a professional level. We support a broad spectrum of courses that combine both western and eastern processes and materials that allows students and professionals to explore all the mediums from around the world. We are finding a higher demand for a variety of the eastern papers due to a number of reasons. The papers can be backed and seamed together to increase size and scale of work within a reasonable budget; they are available on rolls that do not need days of processing to be flat; they tend to have a wide variety of textures and color as well as being very sturdy for their relative density of fiber. We can adhere them to more traditional western papers for illuminating the ink layers and transparency of the fiber along with a strong durability and history of being stable as a medium. As far as processes go, I could not point out one that they are not used in and we have many!
an array of gampi paper
PCI: Matthew, thank you ever so much for your time and well thought out answers, especially during this busy time! We know you have a lot of responsibilities before the show and appreciate what you, your colleagues, and all of PNCA are doing for this year's Flux 2016. See you there!

Hanji Meets the World January 10 2015

Without a doubt Koreans are passionate about their kimchi and have successfully shown the rest of the world what they're boasting about. After attending a hanji-Korean paper- symposium entitled " A Thousand Years Old Hanji, Meets the World" , I have no doubt hanji too will soon be rolling off everyone's tongue! Korean kimchihanji symposium, ksdf, Korean Craft and Design Foundation Hanji is one of the finest papers in the world and certainly has many die-hard fans. It is, however, still less known in the global market compared to other Asian papers, i.e. Japanese (washi), Thai, or even Indian cotton papers. SO WHAT ARE SOME OF THE UNIQUE QUALITIES OF TRADITIONAL HANJI? webal -style sheet formation, no top locking screen, side to side dip, each sheet is double-couched in 2 opposite vertical directions, log rolled over couched sheet to elimate air bubbles and possibly helping release pulp from bamboo screen, and dochim: burnishing or hammering process which flattens, increases the density of paper. SAMSUNG CSC20141217_15213120141217_152128 Most of the attendees from foreign countries were book and paper conservators from places like the Tate Gallery in London, the Library of Congress in Washington, DC, and several other world-renowned institutions. In fact, the focus of the conference was the case for hanji to be used in repair and conservation. Once the special features of traditionally-made hanji were established over a few days, the conservators could better speculate in what particular repair applications hanji would be the right fit. The visit to observe actual papermaking, was one step towards understanding the material at hand and how it may behave with other materials. It was a rare occasion for conservators and papermakers to be sharing each others' daily jobs, but quite key for mutual of understanding between users and makers. For me, this emphasized the need for paper vendors like Paper Connection, as we are really "interpreters" of so many hundreds of paper needs and applications. At Paper Connection we feel it is our role to chronically disseminate and convey information into a paper vocabulary which the maker or manufacturer can relate to. Thanks to the prestigous members of the group, we had the privilege of being invited to a special viewing of the archives of Chonbuk National University, (one of the largest collection of antiquities in Korea); what incredible facilities. Two of my favorite book authors were part of my group: Ms. Aimee Lee and Mr. Nick Basbanes. IMG_5696 As you can imagine, the uses for hanji are endless, also true for almost any other well-made paper. Of course, Paper Connection is honored to carry hanji, both in an array of wonderful colors and neutral tones. Our hanji line is becoming quite popular, and now available here. In 2015, we will be stocking a thicker (96 gsm) hanji for printmaking or for backing, and a new thinner paper for basket cording. Check back here often! We were very lucky guests of the mayor of Jeonju, 20141218_115712where we were treated to feasts and traditional pansori music performance. Jeonju is considered the home of hanji and famous for the old-style architecture maintained in Hanok Village, IMG_9274of course, bibimbap, (rice bowl with meat), and the best pansori singer in the land.SAMSUNG CSC Many thanks again to The Korea Culture & Design Foundation for inviting me to the symposium. It was a great opportunity for me to learn more about hanji and its culture, its applications in conservation, and Korea, of course. A very special thanks to Ms. Bo Kyung Kim of Fides International and hanji artist Ms. Aimee Lee. SAMSUNG CSC Photographs provided by Paperwoman and KCDF.

Artist of the Month: David A. Clark December 10 2014

We are rounding out 2014 with an interview with artist David A. Clark, who, much to our delight, paid us a visit to our warehouse and showroomdavid a clark, printmaker, encaustic ! We enjoyed the visit, especially as things wind down as the year closes out. His perspective on handmade paper and printmaking gave us a renewed outlook as we focus on our goals for 2015. As you muse over yours, please enjoy his interview and images of his work. Thanks, David, it truly was our pleasure! PCI: What kind of artwork do you do? DAC: I’m really interested in the idea of trajectory and impulse and the way those two abstracts influence one’s direction, thought and the way we, as human beings, move, act, think and feel as a result of their influence. My work has always been an exploration of the idea that life is a series of small impulses and trajectories strung along a larger arc. Those concepts are manifested in many different ways in my work, and for the last several years most of them have been brought to life with encaustic and paper. Lots and lots of paper.
Ancient Histories #11, 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural 38” x 25” Ancient Histories #11, 2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural
38 x 25 inches
PCI: And we love to hear that! What or who has influenced/inspired you? DAC: I find inspiration everywhere, but I’m process oriented, so typically I will have an idea in my head that is amorphous, it’s usually a feeling or an impulse that is pushing me to find it a physical form and I’ll be working in my studio on a different project and some bit of what I am doing will ‘bridge the gap” between the idea and the object, and the work will begin to take shape. Honestly though, at the moment I find great inspiration in the materials that I am working with. Materials can often be the “bridge” between the ephemeral and the physical. A perfect example is when you showed me the Sakamoto paper at 7th International Encaustic Conference. I had not worked with paper like that before, but I touched it and it triggered a curious spark. So, I bought every sheet she had and it took me about a year for that paper to find the right “idea” partner to form a dance. But I knew the minute I touched that paper that I could tell a story with it and that it would be the perfect marriage with the impulses that were percolating in my head.
2.Ancient Histories #14 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on layered Gampi & Sakamoto 32.5 x 18.5 in. Ancient Histories #14
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on layered Gampi & Sakamoto
32.5 x 18.5 in.
Ancient Histories #22 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight 38.5 x 25 in. Ancient Histories #22
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight
38.5 x 25 in.
PCI: What attracts you to working with paper? DAC: Paper is language. It holds nuance and, because I am mostly printing right now, it is the catalyst for the image. As a material, paper is so versatile. It’s ephemeral or lasting, fragile or strong, absorbent or impermeable, but the most important quality to me currently is the organic nature of paper and it’s link to a historical context. There are so many different types of paper that can tell different stories. The work that I am doing at the moment is a direct result of the alchemy of process between particular types of paper, the encaustic paint I am printing with and the ideas that are asking to be made. The body of work I am currently making is very much a collaboration with paper.
Ancient Histories #46 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight 21.5 x 38.5 in. Ancient Histories #46
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight
21.5 x 38.5 in.
Ancient Histories #103 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight 38.5 x 25 in. Ancient Histories #103
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight
38.5 x 25 in.
PCI: We love the language analogy, as relating paper to language, semantics and cultural dialect is a part of my daily goal. After all, paper is a surface invented to transmit information via language, as your layered artwork does so very well. What do you like best about working with paper? Have you ever made paper? DAC :I asked Catherine Nash, an artist, friend, author and expert on handmade paper, to show me how to work with high shrinkage flax last year. I loved working with the pulp and forming the sheets. I can see projects involving making my own paper at some point in the future, but for now I have my hands full with the work I am doing. I have visited some paper makers in Thailand and Cambodia, but I think a trip to Japan will be in order at some point when the ideas in my head get too big for the sheets that I am able to buy.
Ancient Histories #107 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight 25 x 38.5 in. Ancient Histories #107
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Sakamoto Heavyweight
25 x 38.5 in.
Ancient Histories #127 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural 25 x 38 in. Ancient Histories #127
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural
25 x 38 in.
PCI: How did you hear about our company? DAC: I first encountered Paper Connection International through you at the 7th International Encaustic Conference. I think I bought half of everything you had that first day. You had papers I had never seen before that had qualities that I knew would work well for me. Lauren, you have since become a good friend and a terrific resource for information. I’ll often email and ask about paper recommendations for projects. And I am really looking forward to visiting the store this fall for the first time. I have mostly been dialoguing with you at the Conference and by email, but so much of ones relationship to paper is tactile, so I am looking forward to touching everything in the store.
Self Portrait 2014 Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural 25 x 38 in. Self Portrait
2014
Encaustic Monoprint on Kozo Natural
25 x 38 in.
Passage #1 2014 Encaustic Monoprints on Sakamoto 38.5 x 150 in.  Passage #1
2014
Encaustic Monoprints on Sakamoto
38.5 x 150 in.
PCI: David, thank you so much. We really appreciated that first day at the Conference, as it led to such great things! Did you have much knowledge about Japanese papers before using our papers? DAC: I have a rudimentary education in Japanese paper. Catherine Nash has been a terrific resource, and you and your staff at Paper Connection International have been a huge, huge help in illuminating and educating me in what is available. And I’m a voracious reader and researcher, so my knowledge of paper is ongoing. PCI: In what ways did Paper Connection help navigate and perhaps inform you about Japanese paper? DAC: When you introduced me to Sakamoto Heavyweight and your beautiful Kozo Natural. Those two papers form the foundation of my current work. That work would be telling a much different story without those two papers. PCI: What papers do you use of ours and for what process? DAC: Currently I’m working on a series of Encaustic Monoprints called “Ancient Histories” which is printed on Sakamoto, Sakamoto Heavyweight, Kozo Natural, and some Kitakata, Tamura Koban, Mexican Handmade, Akatosashi and Sekishu. The Sakamoto and the Kozo Natural form the backbone of the series. They are the most beautifully strong, forgiving and versatile papers. There is something unique that happens in the print process with these papers that is pure magic. PCI: What did you like about those papers that aided in your creative and/or technical process? DAC: I particularly love the velvety texture and soft, organic color of the Kozo Natural, and the two opposing surfaces of the Sakamoto, both the smooth and the more velvety, and that it comes in two different weights. Both papers print well, but they each print slightly differently when printing with encaustic. And something particular occurs with the Sakamoto that doesn’t happen with any other paper. I like these papers so much I teach with them now. PCI: We love hearing that! What are some of the differences between our papers and others you have worked with? DC: Paper Connection carries paper that I cannot get anywhere else. PCI: Thank you for noticing that! And yes, we try our best to provide those specialty papers while supporting the paper makers who craft them. Fill in the blank, if you had to recommend a Paper Connection paper for a particular application: DAC: I would recommend the Kozo Natural. It is such a glorious paper for encaustic printing. PCI: Good choice. Bonus question: If you could have a conversation with any artist present or past, who would it be? And would you talk about paper? DAC: I'd have a conversation with my friend Catherine Nash. She’s such a gifted artist, and I love her work and the way she thinks. Catherine wrote an amazing book about artists that work with encaustic and paper called “Authentic Visual Voices: Contemporary Paper and Encaustic”. Spending time with Catherine is like going to Mount Olympus. She has such a wealth of knowledge about paper that the whole sky opens up and one looks around and discovers that the world is made with paper. PCI: Catherine is truly is an innovator in the paper world; she is never afraid of using paper in new ways with a variety of materials. We hope that visiting Paper Connection was like going to Mount Fuji? haha... I do remember you saying it was the highlight of your trip to Rhode Island; that was pure music to my ears. Thank you again, David! I am excited to have you visit Japan; I would be thrilled to be your guide. Click on David's website here. Here are some images of David's visit to our warehouse:

A Conversation with Helen Hiebert November 24 2014

We met Helen Hiebert back in the early '90s, in SoHo, NYC at Dieu Donné Papermill , and have since watched her blossom into truly a paperwoman extraordinaire. In our conversation below, we discuss handmade paper with Helen, who has cultivated a solid reputation as an educator, artist, writer and champion of the art of paper. Enjoy her musings on handmade paper, altitude, and insight on her techniques, as well as what new paper goodies she is offering this time of year! PCI: What first attracted you to papermaking? HH: The fact that I could make paper from the ground up. I was involved in a community garden in NYC when I first learned to make paper at Dieu Donné Papermill, so I was learning about growing plants for the first time. When I discovered papermaking, I was intrigued by the fact that I could grow and make the raw material, and then continue working with it by making art. PCI: Would you say your approach to papermaking is more scientific or do hope to achieve a certain aesthetic goal? Do you aim to create your papers as a base for your artwork? HH: To answer the first part of that question, I think I do both: I have an experimental approach to working with abaca – testing its strength and ability to become translucent and shrink in relation to various things I interject into the process (embedding string and wire for example, or nailing wet sheets to a board, thus interrupting and altering the drying process). But when I am working on a particular project, like Mother Tree or The Wish, I do have an aesthetic goal, and I choose from my reportoire of techniques to order achieve these goals. And to answer the second part of the question: I do not see myself as making papers as a base for my work but as the material that I’m most likely to work with.
The Wish, installation by Helen Hiebert. The Wish, installation by Helen Hiebert.
The Mother Tree, installation by Helen Hiebert. The Mother Tree, installation by Helen Hiebert.
PCI: How have traditional Asian papermaking methods influenced your papermaking? HH: A trip to Japan in the late 1980’s inspired my interest in handmade paper. I saw handmade papers in shops and was struck by the light filtering through the traditional shoji screens at the inn where I was staying. This was not a paper trip, but rather a trip to visit my father who was working in Japan, so it was purely inspirational. But that trip became the beginning of my career! Upon my return to NYC where I was living, I began looking for ways to return to Japan to learn papermaking. I remember visiting an out-of-the-way bookstore and purchasing Sukey Hughes book "Washi", and I think I purchased Tim Barrett’s book around that time. When I was researching ways to travel to Japan (i.e. an income stream) I discovered Dieu Donné Papermill and volunteered there for a short time. Then I became Program Director and worked there for six years. I never went back to Japan (not yet at least) and I learned all about Western papermaking and creative papermaking techniques. PCI: We absolutely love this video of children learning papermaking at Dieu Donné, as featured on Sesame Street! Spot Helen @ 00:25, 00:39, and 1:47. The other artist is Robbin Ami Silverberg, who now runs her own papermill in Brooklyn. PCI: How has your growing knowledge of papermaking influenced how your work has evolved? HH: I’m not sure this is an answer to your question, but I would expand it to include all of the paper arts. I have a fascination with graphic design and product design, and I’m always looking at materials and products and thinking about how they might translate in paper. I’m also obsessed with techniques that other artists are discovering, and I don’t think that the potential of paper has been fully explored. I’m more concerned with expressing my ideas through paper (and other materials) rather than expanding my knowledge of papermaking, although I’m certainly influenced by what I see and discover.
http://paperconnection.com/laurelai-designs 100 x 100 Paper Weavings #51; © 2013 Helen Hiebert Studio, Paper Connection’s Laurelai Design series & Hark! Handmade Paper
PCI: You recently moved from Portland, Oregon, to Colorado. How has the water, altitude, and all around general move affected your papermaking and work? HH: People told me my work would change when I moved, but I’m not sure that it has significantly. Part of this might have to do with the fact that most of my projects take years to realize. I’ve also moved a lot, so perhaps that is just part of my being. I miss the artist community I developed in Portland, and my paper dries much quicker here in Colorado. PCI: You recently completed a trip to Europe. What were some highlights? Anything that would find its way incorporated into your next pieces? I taught a workshop and lectured at the Papierwespe in Vienna. Beatrix Mapalagama, the owner, has a great little business in Vienna, providing workshops in all facets of paper. I enjoyed the time I spent with her as well as the teaching.
Artists' books in a Venice window, Italy. Artists' books in a Venice window, Italy.
And it was a treat to visit Fabriano in Italy –to see all of the historic equipment and watermarked papers and to participate in the IAPMA (International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists) Congress. Jocelyn Chateavert gave a demonstration which sparked several new ideas for working with abaca. I was also able to visit Roberto Mannino’s studio in Rome as well as his permanent paper installation at the Graphic Institute in a building right above the Trevi Fountain. It is wonderful to be able to share time, stories and ideas with other artists who work in similar ways.
Fabriano IAPMA Congress venue. Fabriano IAPMA Congress venue.
Jocelyn Chateauvert prepares for her demo, Fabriano. Jocelyn Chateauvert prepares for her demo, Fabriano.
Biking with friends in Germany. Biking with friends in Germany.
Herr Chmel's paper theater, Vienna, Austria. Herr Chmel's paper theater, Vienna, Austria.
unnamedceiling unnamed PCI: Do you prefer making paper, working with paper, writing, or teaching? What aspects of each of these do you enjoy? HH: Good question! Part of this has to do with making a living. Years ago, I looked at my income to see which of these areas was most profitable. And you know what? It was pretty even across the board. That told me two things: 1: I could choose one direction and put all of my energy there; or 2: I could continue to have several income streams. I really enjoy each of these facets and think that they play well off of each other. Sometimes I make myself tired because I can’t turn off the ideas. Lots of them go by the wayside, and others stick. This keeps me ticking.
Holding, by Helen Hiebert Holding, by Helen Hiebert
PCI: We are certainly glad you keep active in all fields, and keep those ideas coming! Which artist(s), past or present, would you like to have a conversation with? What would you say about paper? HH: I’d have to say Eva Hesse, and I would discuss our shared fascination with materials, among other things. I’ve always thought that she would have loved paper… and she lived really close to Dieu Donné, (although it wasn’t there yet – she died in 1970 and it was founded in 1976). I sometimes fantasize about how we walked along the same streets of New York. PCI: What is next for Helen Hiebert?!? Per Helen's blog, she posts this: "A quick heads-up: next Friday through Sunday (11/28 – 12/1) I’m offering FREE SHIPPING on everything you find on my website. Playing With Paper Kits, How-to books, DVDs and art. It will be almost like you’re here shopping in my studio!" Don't miss out on this opportunity!
Window Start Paper Kit, by Helen Hiebert. Window Start Paper Kit, by Helen Hiebert.
Earlier in the year, Helen published a wonderful blog about Paper Connection. We are so pleased to be collaborating more with Helen this year and re-developing a deeper paper relationship between us. For more on Helen Hiebert, please visit the following: Website: http://helenhiebertstudio.com/ Blog: http://helenhiebertstudio.com/blog/ Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/HelenHiebertStudio

Paper Collections November 19 2013

You could say "I am my mother's daughter" in my love of folk art and ephemera... apparently! My mother's collection through the years has inspired me to not only start my own collection, but to keep up with hers. Although not technically folk art, she had amassed a collection of vintage Japanese wrapping papers and packaging. "Vintage", meaning, not from 1992, or (click here to see our sister shop on Esty) retro-looking replicas, but literally, "vintage";4-5 decades old, which was stored away in the corner of her attic, waiting for her next mixed media collage. Here are some of the many sheets I pored through, pondering if I could use them in my own artwork. For now I will just add them to my personal ephemera collection.

See more at our flickr here.


Artist of the Month: Nancy Hoel June 20 2013

Nancy is a recent customer of Paper Connection, and has graciously sent us photographs of her transforming Momi Kozo, or crinkled mulberry, to beautifully arranged flowers. We thought we'd grab on to this hot off the press inspiration and ask her to be our Artist of the Month for June. Here is a different spin of the usual questionnaire, as Nancy contributed sans Q & A her insightful training, methods, and background. Introducing Nancy, from South Carolina, in her own words: "Watercolor paintings of flowers or still lifes is my usual involvement with fine paper, but when Japanese paper enters the conversation, there is an entirely different group of interests that emerge. There is Japanese calligraphy, both kanji and hiragana. Paper dolls, washi ningyo, are another passion. Fairly recently, paper flowers and foliage have become an interest. As a very young girl, my favorite place to play was with a girl whose father worked for a printer. She had a shelf full of all colors and textures of paper he had brought her. It was very exciting! At about the same time, paper dolls appeared, and caught and held my interest. I still collect them, and made one for a little girl who was undergoing chemotherapy, and had lost her hair. It was a wig paper doll, with fanciful and silly wigs to cheer up the child with their outlandish colors and designs. Japanese paper was an exciting aspect of our stay in Japan. While my husband worked, I attended classes, starting with "hari-e" or torn paper pictures. There, I learned about different Japanese papers and their properties. It was also my first experience with a "sensei" or teacher/master. I decided to do a little improvisation with one of the designs, and before the glue had dried, the sensei stripped the paper off the board, and repositioned it in its proper place. So much for creative ideas! It had been a longtime ambition to learn calligraphy. Every Saturday I went to class, watched while the sensei remarked everyone's calligraphy with brilliant orange ink, and went home with my assignment for the next week, using reams of calligraphy practice paper, trying to properly form shapes new to me. Later, when some amount of proficiency had been attained, beautiful paper appeared, and shikishi (paper boards for artwork) arrived in boxes. Always, the paper was perfectly suited to each purpose. I have forgotten now how I became interested in Japanese paper dolls. That is where I learned how paper could be manipulated, with such striking results. Each doll was different, patterned after mostly historical types, and they began to accumulate with their colorful kimonos and fanciful hairdos. In the 1980's there were several paper stores in Hiroshima, a cool manufacturer in Kyoto, and a manufacturer in Tokyo. I began to collect all the paper I could, knowing I could not possibly use all of it, but finding each new type or design more exciting than the one before. Now the stores in Hiroshima are gone, but Paper Connection is stocked with fabulous papers from all over Asia, and the knowledgeable staff is most helpful. I look forward to learning more about Japanese paper, and, most of all, adding to my collection. The only paper I have ordered from Paper Connection so far is Momi Kozo. It has long been a favorite paper because of the large, luminous color range, and great texture. It has been invaluable for washi ningyo, and now, making paper flowers, it is very versatile and is light enough that two pieces can be glued together. It is also very strong, and can absorb the rigors of twisting and bending, necessary in both washi ningyo and floral art. Paper Connection has a large selection of Momi Kozo and I purchased one of every color. I look forward to exploring more of paper Connection's broad stock of exotic papers. The artist I would dearly love to talk to is Isabelle de Borchgrave, a Belgian woman who specializes in creating life size historic costumes from many kinds of paper, including lens paper. Her recent book, "Pulp Fashion" is a stunning display of her vision, talent, and appreciation for fine paper, and the extremes to which it can be pushed with some ingenuity."
Nancy at work Nancy at work

photo

Various papers lend to various textures. Various papers lend to various textures.

Nancy, thank you so much for telling us about your background, your inspiration, and Isabelle de Borchgrave. Your kindness to others is worthy of example, and we look forward to seeing more of your pieces.

Feast your eyes on more of Nancy's work: