By Lydia Fegan:
Notes on Handmade Paper
Recently we (Primrose Paper Arts) received a copy of the journal, Hand Papermaking, Summer 2016 edition, vol. 31, no.1,(the Journal) I thought I would share with you, over an irregular series to be included on our website, some thoughts on the articles in it, and hope that you will be as inspired as I was on reading them. It was a revelation to me to see that in the US many young students in many art schools are engaged in making handmade paper and thinking about ways of using it to contribute to a more socially sustainable and eco-conscious world.
First a quick description of the journal and where it originates. It is produced twice a year by a nonprofit organisation, Hand Papermaking, Inc., based in the US, and has been in existence for 30 years. It has a large International Board of Advisors and over the last seventeen years it has run a National Collegiate Handmade Paper Triennial. This edition in particular highlights work being done by new young papermakers in the field, what motivates them, and how they use their handmade paper practice in their art, their design or their social action.
For example, there is Jillian Bruschera and her Mobile Mill which she sets up at universities, residency programs and sometimes even at the side of a road all over the US, to create art, and conduct workshops. The motivation behind this venture is to connect people with each other at the same time as introducing them to the delight and satisfaction of making paper, together. This is a response to the so-called social engagement movement, which has seen the rise of crafts culture as a reaction to the “tyranny of technology” in our lives. “The slow and collective process of most crafts…makes them incredibly powerful stages for conversation…a space for social services, community organizing, empathy building, and at the core, developing support networks and friendships across difference.” (“People’s Paper: Young Practitioners Take Papermaking to New Publics” by Melissa Potter. The Journal p.9).
In the “old days”, sewing circles and other craft collectives, have played a very important part throughout history in holding communities together. They have provided the glue to affirm common social goals and to create and cement support networks.
We who are involved in Primrose Paper Arts already know and value this social aspect of our art/craft. It is so encouraging to see that so many people today are turning to it as a powerful way to re-connect with each other and build on it to strengthen social bonds which many feel are being eroded by ever-changing, fast-moving commercialisation and technological innovation.
Magazine front cover image http://www.handpapermaking.org/
Mobile Mill image from publication p.8. Credits read: Jillian Bruschera and her Mobile Mill outside the Academy of Fine Arts, Sarajevo, May 2015. All photos courtesy of the (article) author and the artists.
Hand Papermaking (ISSN 0887-1418) is published twice a year by Hand Papermaking, PO Box 1070, Beltsville, MD 20704, USA. Current and back copies are available to order through their site http://www.handpapermaking.org/.