I LOVE paper. There I said it. I collect all sorts of paper because you never know when you might need it. But also because I love the textures. How it feels in my hands, how it folds and how it crinkles, each one different. Papermaking is a natural extension of this love.
Reducing waste is an important part of life and part of our responsibility to care for this planet. Papermaking for me comes from this essence of reusing and elevating discarded rubbish. Then finding a place for it and giving it a new purpose. That in turn ennobles the materials to become beautiful, elegant and desirable. This everyday alchemy fits perfectly along side the core essence of my practice. That is to search out beauty and hope in everything. These two aspects fit wonderfully together.
“Fill your paper with the breathings of your heart.” — William Wordsworth
The way I work is very intuitive and I rarely begin papermaking with a detailed plan of what an end piece of work will look like. I thoroughly enjoy the process of making so most work begins there. I will make a batch of paper because some waste product at home or in the garden has caught my eye. Or sometimes because my piles I have been squirrelling away are getting too big. The process of making is very therapeutic and methodical it kind of runs itself and I help. During the process I will often have an idea and add a new ingredient or stretch out the pulp to see how thin a sheet of paper can be made.
I never make great big batches when I’m papermaking as I am too inquisitive and always thinking about what next to try. Once I have a stash of papers the magic begins. With every batch I will fold one piece into a victorian paper purse and curl up another one to see how versatile it can be. Some are more fragile than others and that all depends on the initial ingredients and how smooth I made the pulp.
The work I make using these papers will often contain another organic substance or object. I am always collecting things I find on walks. Maybe driftwood by the river a fallen branch covered in lichen or possibly some seed heads or feathers. These things sit around my work space until that moment when a connection is made and an idea begins to germinate. The film below has a selection of book objects made from my handmade paper. I think you will see how versitile it can be with a little bit of imagination.
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