Thursday, July 17, 2008

we make the paper

Yesterday I taught my second art lesson at the park and rec sponsored summer camp. Since our goal is to have a handmade book by the end of our six weeks together, and we've already covered paste paper, I decided we should move on to papermaking.

I made everything from the moulds and deckles to the pulp itself for this workshop. I didn't, however, have to do everything alone. My cousin Sarah came over to assist me with preparation and with the workshop itself. We spent the entire morning running blender load after blender load of pulp. By the time we were finished, we had beaten a pound and a half of dry fiber, and we had one tired blender.

After last week's chaotic whirlwind of a lesson, I expected this week to be similar and prepared myself for an onslaught of chatty kids and flying pulp. What I got instead was a group of kids quietly focused on the task of making paper. We spent the entire session quietly (relative to last week) pulling sheets and talking about the history of and approaches to making paper.

We pulled sheets of plain pulp, and then the girls wanted to get a little artistic, so we began adding hydrangea flowers into the pulp. They loved the effect so much that they began plucking flowers from the vat and pressing them into the surface of their newly formed sheets. Let me tell you, tween girls are very particular about positioning flowers on handmade paper. Some of them labored over their creations until the sheet was almost too dry to successfully couch. Fortunately, however, after the first two sheets, we had no problems with couching at all.

Even cleanup was painless. Some of my students, as they bent over the pulp container making pulp balls, told me they were having fun. I couldn't have asked for a more enthusiastic group.

This week I also taught a paste paper workshop for autistic summer campers. Unfortunately, I don't have any photos of their beautiful work, but they had so much fun that next week I'll be returning to teach them some single sheet book structures. We'll be transforming their paste papers into some sweet little codex-style booklets, and if I'm brave enough, we might even attempt a flexagon.


bockstark.knits said...

that sounds like *so* much fun! and it sounds like everyone had a good time. what a great gift you've given these kids!!!

petunialu said...

awesome, might could! it sounds like you are having such a rewarding time!

mightcouldpress said...

teaching the kids really is a lot of fun. In fact, I'm getting kind of addicted. I've alread ymade plans for knitting lessons and papermaking with cousins on top of my already full teaching schedule. But, I know they'll have fun, and I will too.