A Dynamo of Papermaking: Studio Tour of the Morgan Conservatory

Morgan Conservatory Paper

Hand papermaking is certainly a strange duck. It’s simultaneously a tradition that is thousands of years old, yet artists today are just at the beginning of expanding creative papermaking techniques, and combining the medium with other art processes.

Well, who’s out there preserving tradition AND driving experimentation? A must-know organization is the Morgan Art of Papermaking Conservatory & Educational Foundation, located in Cleveland, Ohio.

Hold onto your seats, because we’re going on a virtual studio tour!

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Environmental Installations: Handmade Paper Art by Jane Ingram Allen

Pt. Reyes Site Map

When artists merge the medium of hand papermaking with other art movements, interesting and significant artworks can emerge. You many have already read about papermaking intersecting with performance art, printmaking, and historical process photography.

Well, how about handmade paper and site-specific art? Or paper art that addresses environmental issues, and welcomes participation?

Jane Ingram Allen is an artist, curator, educator, Fulbright scholar, and world-traveler whose work embodies all of the above. She uses local plants and natural materials to create handmade paper installations and sculptures that invite collaboration from the community and viewers.

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Papermaking in Detroit: The Invasive Paper Project by Megan Heeres

Invasive Paper Project by Meg Heeres

Participant at ‘The More We Get Together’,
Artist with gallery visitor at the hand-papermaking station, 2015

What’s currently topical in the handmade paper world? Projects and artists that explore alternative, local fibers for papermaking. These are paper projects that often connect with broader circles, from community organizations to environmental agencies.

Whether it’s recycled paper scrap, agri-fiber waste, banana trunks, or invasive seaweed, over here at Paperslurry we’ll be exploring a few of our favorite ventures. You may have seen Jane Kramer’s Foreshadowing series, and today let’s take a quick peek at The Invasive Paper Project, which also works with invasive plant fibers.

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Art, Handmade Paper, Invasive Plants: New Photographs by Jane Kramer

Handmade paper art from plants, Jane Kramer

Jane Kramer, Foreshadowing – Endangered and Threatened Plant Species, Long-bracted spiderwort on phragmites

As an art medium, hand papermaking has an incredible potential to speak meaningfully about the environment. One artist you should know is Jane Kramer, who has focused on invasive and native plant species by combining handmade papers with alternative process photography.

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Stop the Presses! It’s Community Supported Paper at Fresh Press

Fibers by Fresh Press, handmade paper in Illinois

What if handmade paper was at the farmer’s market, along with your favorite tomatoes and freshly baked loaf? Or, maybe there’s a snazzy notebook made from prairie grass paper in your CSA box.

You’re not daydreaming—community supported paper is a reality, thanks to Fiber by Fresh Press.

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Performance, Handmade Paper, and Language: Soliloquy in English by Patrick Blenkarn

paperslurry-blenkarn-book

Hand papermaking allows an artist to take ownership of their materials. Choosing a fiber for paper pulp, making handmade paper, creating the final form—papermaking is a mutable art medium that allows for a multitude of options. When used in interdisciplinary manner, the process can be a way to add context, content, and meaning to an art piece.

Patrick Blenkarn is a Canadian artist based in Vancouver who recently created Soliloquy in English, a performance piece about English as a second language. It uses a rich combination of materials: words spoken aloud, a book containing varied experiences, and paper handmade from a secondhand dictionary.

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Take a Look: Paper Pulp Woodblock Prints by Artist Josh Monroe

Josh Monroe, artist, paper pulp woodblock prints

Josh Monroe, Staccato Prints: Green/Blue Woodblock and handmade paper, 3.5″ by 3.5″, 2015

It’s a wild, wide world of potential for hand papermaking, especially when paired with other art-making mediums. Paper pulp itself has a huge variety of capabilities, including a remarkable memory suited for casting.

Let’s take a quick look at work by Josh Monroe, an artist who combines printmaking (relief woodcuts) and papermaking.

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