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!

Founded in 2008, the Morgan Conservatory is an urban arts center that resides in an impressive 15,000 square foot, industrial-chic space. Walk inside, and you’ll be greeted by a gallery, shop, and several studio areas in papermaking, letterpress, and book arts.

letterpress printmaking studio

Detail view of the letterpress printmaking area.

handmade paper watermarks

Handmade paper watermarks on display by Beatrix Mapalagama, made from cotton combings and abaca, with plastic mat on the mould as the watermark. Watermarks are only visible when held up to light.

(Learn more about handmade paper watermarks here)

morgan conservatory hand papermaking

sculptural hand papermaking art

Handmade paper sculptures by Kyle Holland and Pam Mckee, on display in the gallery during “Confluence: Twelve Collaborations”.

The papermaking studio is equipped with everything you could ever wish for—beautiful natural light, and a large working space with both Western and Eastern style papermaking equipment. It’s also the home of the only hanji (Korean paper) studio in the United States.

handmade paper mould and deckle

A western style hand mould and deckle in the papermaking studio.

papermaking mould and deckle

Hand papermaking moulds and deckles.

hydraulic press for hand papermaking

Hydraulic paper presses in the studio.

hollander paper beater machine

There is also a separate room holding several Hollander paper beaters. Show above is a Naginata beater (top), and a Noble and Wood beater.


Handmade paper shop Handmade paper Handmade paper Handmade paper

You can also take a peek into the on-site store, where various handmade papers made at the Morgan, papermaking books, and tools are available for purchase.


urban paper fiber garden kozo, paper mulberry tree Kozo, paper mulberry fiber for hand papermaking

Outside in back lives the Caraboolad Garden, the largest paper mulberry garden in the United States. Every fall, friends of the Morgan gather to harvest and process the kozo, which is used for production handmade papers and the studio. A recent expansion of the garden includes natural dye plants and tororo-aoi, a mucilaginous root that acts as a formation aid for plant-based papers.

In the area? Currently on view in the gallery is American Fiber, a national juried exhibition that shows the diversity of papermaking as an artistic medium.

handmade paper art

Best of Show: Marjorie Tomchuk, Confluence II

Sculptural hand papermaking art

Laurie LeBreton, Sabadee
Handmade abaca paper, mixed media

Hand papermaking sculpture

Erin Cramer, Crown Hare
handmade paper using pigmented abaca and cotton fibers, glass eyes, crown

Kerri Cushman, paper and book artist

Kerri Cushman, ABC Antics, handmade paper, letterpress

Interested in more?


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