handmade paper

artprize: in the homestretch!

With only days to go until I ship my work from Frankfurt to Grand Rapids, things feel on track. Thanks to a flurry of recent activity, we are in the homestretch on two major fronts: funding and my sculpture.

Contributions came in this week from long-time friends and new supporters. Thank you VERY much to: Merike VanZanten, Diane Wirono, Mary Cook, Sandra Barnett-White, Joe Kopanski, and Arlene & Allen Hatton. With only eight days left to meet my fundraising goal, your support gets us 81% of the way there!

Homestretch: final flower production and dancer's paper crown awaiting Swarovski crystalsEarlier today, I finished the work that will be installed for ArtPrize (a tiny studio celebration ensued, and now I'm back to work). The past few days have been a blur of flower-making to hit my goal of wrapping things up this weekend. There will be finished touches on the other end, but for now, it's ready to go.

"Shades of Gray" sculpture pieces ready to shipI learned on Friday that international art shipping is a lot more involved than I realized. Not only do I need to have custom shipping crates constructed, I must use an airfreight forwarding company because the dimensions of the boxed work are too large for FedEx or UPS to handle the usual way. The good news is that it looks like the combined expenses will be comparable to what is budgeted.

Speaking of budget, if you're considering a contribution, now is the time to do it! To hit my minimum funding goal, I need $550 more by no later than this coming Saturday, September 8. I'm grateful for any amount - so please, support the arts and get a little thank-you gift in return.

A number of contributions have come in through friends of friends, which means that sharing the campaign with your network through Facebook, Twitter and email does work. If you copy and post this link: http://goo.gl/OGJuY, the rest takes care of itself.

ArtPrize details:

Shades of Gray at ArtPrize©, Grand Rapids, MI, USA. September 19 – October 7, 2012.

Click here to donate.
Click here to visit my ArtPrize page.

artprize: steady progress

With two weeks until my work ships from Frankfurt to Grand Rapids for ArtPrize, we're making steady progress on several fronts:

First, a BIG THANK YOU to recent funding campaign contributors for taking us over the $2,000 mark! They are: Alison Sigethy, Susan Trivers, Kenneth O'Brien, Mary Ann Rudy, Laura Rozenberg, and Moira McCauley. Your contributions will go to fund onsite marketing materials and travel expenses for one volunteer. 

The dancer's vellum tutu is finished. I'm pleasantly surprised by how sturdy the vellum becomes once pleated and stacked. The costume is now resting upright on a pillow for me to work on the top surface, and the tutu remains uncrushed.

"Shades of Gray" costume in progress I've started laying out the design for the costume, using hundreds of paper flowers for the pattern. This phase tends to progress intuitively and quickly, once a general direction emerges.

Using paper flowers to design "Shades of Gray" costume

Work on a metal stand for the dancer has begun, too. Pennsylvania craftsman Gary Rider is creating a minimalist black metal frame with graceful "legs" to support the costume and head. More later on Gary with photos of his work, as things progress.

It feels great to have family, friends, and new acquaintances involved in this project. The moral and financial support really make a difference. At 57% of the way in, the campaign is 66% funded through IndieGoGo, plus another $225 directly. If you are in a position to contribute to Shades of Gray, please do. Every little bit signals your support, boosting me through the day as I work in the studio.

ArtPrize details:

Shades of Gray at ArtPrize©, Grand Rapids, MI, USA. September 19 – October 7, 2012.

Click here to donate.
Click here to visit my ArtPrize page.

artprize: spotlight on giving back

Exactly one month from today, ArtPrize 2012 in Grand Rapids officially opens! If everything goes smoothly, we'll be putting the finishing touches on my piece, Shades of Gray, in the Amway Grand's lobby.

The work is coming along nicely now. I am currently screenprinting and hand-folding hundreds of sheets of vellum into tiny fans to build the tutu of my dancer's costume. A professional dancer's tutu is typically made with thirteen layers of tulle, which is my design for the paper version.

Screenprinted vellum folded into tiny fans Building the tutu for the dancer's costume

Generous contributions to the cause have also continued to roll in. At 37% of the way in, the campaign is 55% funded through IndieGoGo, plus another $225 directly. Thank you so much for your generous donations to Elizabeth Smiley, Emily Ryan, Sas Colby, and Donna O'Brien. Your funds mean that I can now cover expenses related to materials for the metal fabricator who is welding a frame for Shades of Gray, and important marketing materials to create visibility in Grand Rapids during the three-week exhibition.

Astro, rescued from Friends of Homeless AnimalsOne thing that I've been asked is what I would do if I won an award at ArtPrize (I'm thinking positively!). An important priority for me is giving back. One of my favorite causes is animal welfare.

Several years ago, we rescued our dog Astro from a no-kill shelter, Friends of Homeless Animals. They keep animals alive, no matter how long placement takes. They also "sweep" high-kill centers (such as Prince George's County, where Astro was), and move the most promising animals to FoHA in Northern Va.

Two other organizations are the Animal Rescue Fund and Second Chance Wildlife Center. Both fill important voids. ARF raises funding for shelters that don't receive government funding, and SCWC rehabilitates injured or sick wildlife before releasing them back to nature.

I have happily received several "I'm back in the woods!" postcards from injured squirrels and birds that I'd taken to SCWC for treatment.


If you are in a position to contribute to Shades of Gray, even just a little, please do. Every dollar and euro help defray project and volunteer costs, while getting the team one step closer to having a shot at an award with funds to give back.

Thank you to those of you who are spreading the word, as well!

ArtPrize details:

Shades of Gray at ArtPrize©, Grand Rapids, MI, USA. September 19 – October 7, 2012.

Click here to donate.
Click here to visit my ArtPrize page.

the zen of paper flower making

This is what I'm up to, these days. One petal at a time, I am hand-cutting, hand-painting, hand-assembling, hand sewing, and hand-gluing many, many paper flowers for my ArtPrize paper sculpture installation. It is aMAZing how long this all takes.

It's forcing me to slow down. To focus on the next task at hand, instead of racing (mentally and actually) to the million other things that I think I should be doing.

daring 2 dard

Greetings from the annual Friends of Dard Hunter conference at Georgia Tech in Atlanta. We are 400 handmade paper makers, professors, book and fiber artists, conservators, tool makers, scientists, historians, students and enthusiasts spending several days completely immersed in what we love: sharing, learning about, and celebrating handmade paper in all of its extraordinary forms. 

Sukey Hughes, a pioneer in documenting the tradition of handmade paper in Japan, started us off with her thoughtful keynote. Her message to slow down and be mindful in our work really struck home, as I remind myself hourly to do one thing at a time these days. The gracious response from the Consul General of Japan Takuji Hanatani to acknowledge the Friends' first international show in Tokyo was touching - I’m struck by the mutual fascination of the Americans and Japanese with each other’s work in hand paper-making. We’ve come full circle with the Friends’ first overseas exhibit in Japan, where the Japanese are now discovering an American who dedicated his life to bringing hand papermaking to the US.

Other talks and workshops were thought provoking and useful. From the practical and technical to the sublime and inspiring, there was a nice range of content:

It wouldn’t be a papermakers’ conference without getting our hands into vats, which we did with the Combat Paper Project, U. of Alabama’s banana fiber papermaking demo, and Helen Hiebert’s amazing shrinking abaca. This is the second time I've seen the work from the Combat Paper Project, now reaching worldwide. Mindfulness served me well, as I snipped a veteran's uniform into pieces and reflected on the person who wore it. 

Worth the price of admission, I got great tips from Pat Feeney and Larry Murrell on how to prevent the Arches black cover stock for our Moving Parts companion booklet from cracking, plus a promising source for archival insert material for the collector’s box. My growing interest in using paper to construct sculptural paper garments was fueled by Erica Rasmussen’s survey of the history of paper garments worldwide, highlighting women’s groovy pop art paper shifts from the 1960s.

Sustainable papermaking was a hot topic. Enthusiasm ran high for the “Slow Paper Movement” coined by Mary Tasillo. A panel of sustainable practice papermakers shared their approaches, including: Mary’s Welcome House ‘zine project; Patterson Clark’s recipes, paper, ink, prints, and carved wood blocks from invasive plants such as white mulberry and multiflora roses; and Zina Castanuella who, in collaboration with Andrea Peterson at Hook Pottery Paper, is making gorgeously pigmented native plant papers from Queen Anne’s lace, day lily, dandelion, oats, abaca and seed inclusions from their papermaker’s garden.

The opening for Make an Impression was packed. Do more seasoned artists grow blasé about seeing their work on exhibit? Being able to attend my first opening was a thrill. Sharing the spotlight with so many inspiring artists and witnessing, first-hand, the response to my own work was a deeply fulfilling first for me.

This morning, I topped off my already overrunning cup with the Paper Runway exhibit at Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson airport. After meeting many of the exhibitors at the conference, their work was all the more meaningful to see on display. Pieces that inspired me included Erica Rasmussen’s Juju Dress, Jacket Pilosic, and Collar #6: Book of Desires, Mary Ellen Matthews’ Wings for Icarus, Robert Ryan’s Every Beat of My Heart, Julie McLaughin and Mary Snyder Behrens’ Arianne and Isis, Kristen Demer’s Strictly Unconfined, Liz Mitchell’s Worn Slippers, and Jill Powers’ Kozo Fiber Shoes.

So now the question is, do I dare to Dard? It’s President Jill Littleton’s call to action for all members to get involved. She has a number of innovative ideas, many leveraging social media tools to bring fresh blood into the membership. Kudos to her for this vision. I’ve struggled with how involved to get, frankly. My early impressions of this organization were that, while full of interesting, creative and nice people, it felt dated and out of touch. I’m encouraged and motivated by the fresh ideas and energy I felt at this meeting.

The organization is hungry for innovative ways to reach out and engage both members and the public. This is my expertise – the question is, is this a place to invest my time? The fact that nobody gives me a blank stare here when I tell them I'm a book artist is lovely, but there are many organizations where this would be true – IAPMA, Guild of Papermakers, Guild of Book Workers, and CBAA to name a few. I haven’t vetted any of them, yet the Friends draws me back. There’s something to be said of spending time in the company of the generous, creative and intelligent people driven to sustain this beautiful craft.