Making Handmade Paper

Thistles are blooming now, but in a few weeks, the thistle down will be ready for gathering.

Thistles are blooming now, but in a few weeks, the thistle down will be ready for gathering.

Note: The winner of the T-shirt from the Madeline Island School of the Arts is BirdingBesty! Congratulations! Thanks also for leaving a comment on the poetry class blog.

*     *     *     *     *
Up in the hills of Oro Valley, North of Tucson (AZ) in a purple and turquoise studio, we made paper. Handmade paper was my first real art love many years ago. I allowed myself to think like an artist. I became an artist.  Taking a class  all these years later was a wonderful experience. Val Bembenek is the Paper Art Lady, and she was our instructor. Val gathers desert plants–thistledown, yucca, agaves. When she travels up North, she gathers cattails , irises, and grasses. And she saves pineapple, cornhusks, onion skins, and artichoke to make paper.

Val had the vats of beaten fiber ready for us and for two days we made gourmet paper (hops and artichoke was lovely) and wild grass paper. It was pure satisfaction. She let us have the run of the studio. Our places were set up with everything we needed and we could make paper till the fiber ran out. And there was plenty of fiber.

L to R, bottom row: thistledown, iris, corn silk in abaca. Top row, L to R: ocotillo flower in iris, iris with silk ribbon bits, abaca with hibiscus flowers.

L to R, bottom row: thistledown, iris, corn silk in abaca. Top row, L to R: ocotillo flower in iris, iris with silk ribbon bits, abaca with hibiscus flowers.

I made a whole stack of paper:

PaperStack

And when I got home and spread the papers on the hot patio to dry, one of the cats ignored the art aspect and just used the paper to cool her tummy:

PaperCat

I have some collage plans and maybe a book-making plan for the paper. Too many people never use their handmade paper, and the real beauty for art is to see it in use.

Quinn McDonald has never stopped loving paper making or making bowls out of handmade paper.

Advertisements

12 thoughts on “Making Handmade Paper

  1. What a wonderful article about my dear friend, Val. So glad you were able to take her workshop. She’s very talented and sticks by her recycling principles. Unfortunately, her friend does not!

  2. Fun! And dribbling in dye when it’s wet would be fun! And exploring how it would tear would be fun! And, and, and . . . what can I use for a screen, what can I gather at the beach, and where’s my mortar and pestle . . . must go and play NOW!

  3. Thanks also for the link to yet another Tucson artist. I am collecting these names for the day when I can go there for longer than one week and immerse myself in classes. I am so in love with the plants there and to see them used in this way is a real eye opener for me. I just never thought of them that way. Thank you again!

    • When you do go back to Tucson, look up the PaperWorks people. They are kind, talented, sharing group. They do workshops and classes; you’ll find some serious talent there. Val is a member, and so were most of the people in the class I took. It’s worth the drive! I got a good rate and a hotel, because I don’t want to spend five or six hours driving in one day, and it was a good idea.

Join the conversation

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s