Monday, March 31, 2008

Tutorial: how to make paste paper

A few weeks ago, I promised to post a tutorial for how to make your own decorative paper. I've finally managed to complete it, so onto the blog it goes.

Paste paper was one of the first things I learned to make when I started out in book arts, and the skill has served me well. It's a great way to make decorative paper that's not like the stock you'll encounter at paper and scrapbook supply stores and it lends a distinctive look to any project.

These are only a few examples of the papers I've made in the past. I don't attempt to model my designs after historic patterns, but many people do. If you're interested in traditional patterns, the University of Washington has an extensive collection of marbled and paste-decorated papers from the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries.

Finally, now that you've seen what you can do, here's how to do it.

Read this doc on Scribd: pastepaper

In addition to this tutorial, you'll also need to know how to make paste. Here's a simple recipe.

Mix 2/3 cups of wheat starch and 2 cups of water in a microwave safe container. Let soak for at least 30 minutes. After 30 minutes have passed, stir mixture and microwave on high for 2 minutes. Remove from microwave and stir. Now microwave mixture for 30 seconds at a time, stirring between each round. Repeat this process until the mixture is thick and translucent (about five minutes of total microwave time). Let stand until cool. To store, cover firm paste with cold water.

Paste is good for about a week if kept in a covered container and water is changed out daily.

Sunday, March 30, 2008

Handmade paper at ONO

If you're in the Tuscaloosa area this Thursday, stop by the One Night Only Artique for the opening of Fiber/Book. It's a group show that I've been working hard to coordinate, and it should be good. We'll have books, sculpture, broadsides, and even a little knitting on view.

Thanks to Amy, we've even got some lovely postcards to advertise the event. They make me feel like a very important artist.

For those of you who can't make it, I'm going to photograph all of the work and upload it onto my flickr account. You'll be able to view to online exhibit sometime early next week, after the insanity of installation and presenting the art at the opening.

I'm particularly excited about this show because handmade paper is one of my favorite mediums to work in. Before I learned bookbinding and letterpress printing, I was a knitter and a fabric hoarder, and my love for fiber competed with my love for book arts. However, learning to make paper by hand, from all sorts of forged and recycled materials, allowed me to find ways to incorporate fiber arts into my bookwork. Fiber/Book is my first attempt at bringing my love for handmade paper (and by proxy book and fiber arts) to the community. Alongside the finished work, we'll have photographs of the paper making process, a nice introductory placard that begins to answer the "why/what about handmade paper?" question, and a gathering of handmade paper samples arranged like a spectrum across one gallery wall.

I want other people to be as excited about making paper by hand as I am. Hopefully the informative nature of this show will allow for that to happen. And maybe it will build enough interest for me to teach a workshop in May. That would certainly be a lovely outcome of this already lovely event.

Friday, March 28, 2008

the long-awaited update

This month has been crazy. And every time I intend to update the blog, another task to be completed announces itself. Right now, I'm working to make the might could universe a little bit bigger. I've got a web address and a site design in progress, and I just opened up shop at DaWanda, a lovely online craft community. You can check out the shop by following this link.

Because spring and summer are the seasons of craft fairs and farmer's markets, I've kept my hands busy sewing journals. I'm especially enamoured with using handmade paper as covering material and hand embroidery. These new designs represent a product line that's been a long time in the making; there's focus to my production work, and that makes me a very happy book artist.

These are two of my favorites. An ethiopian style link stitch with waves embroidered in lavender linen floss on the cover and mini longstitch notebooks with machine-sewing on handmade paper covers.

Of course I haven't been working solely on journals. I'm also getting ready to print my new book, Lace Stories. It's an accordion-style binding with handmade linsey-woolsey paper and overbeaten flax and cotton endsheets. I'm warming up by printing some eye-popping bright note cards with the lace pattern that will serve as the book's background.

Soon, however, I will be printing the real thing, lace, text, linocuts, and all. And I will also be posting that long-promised paste paper tutorial soon. I just have to find a scanner and a few more spare moments!