A conservatory grows trees to turn into handmade paper
Cleveland’s Morgan Conservatory is one of the few places in the US dedicated to conserving paper-making traditions and considering the material’s artistic and functional future.
The Morgan’s special grove of Kozo, or Paper Mulberry (Broussonetia papyrifera) was planted ten years ago with the help of paper artist and MacArthur Fellow Tim Barrett, who provided the kozo cuttings from the University of Iowa’s Center for the Book.
It is the largest cultivated kozo grove in the U.S. Kozo trees, which are native to Asia, are considered to be an invasive species in most of the US because of their highly opportunistic growing strategies which successfully colonize patches of disturbed fields.
It is also a tree highly prized for over two thousand years in ancient Asian paper-making techniques. For the Morgan, the polymorphic and slightly hairy lobed – and unlobed-leaved trees promise sheets of valuable archival-grade artist paper, and they are the only non-profit organization in the US remaining that still produces a large volume of handmade paper for sale.
The Morgan is unique in being one of the largest book arts centers in the country to incorporate multiple disciplines of paper-making, book arts, and letterpress, in addition to extensive programming.
The founder, artist Tom Balbo, describes how early on he and a board member had contemplated how “to keep something vibrant in the arts, you know, you’ve gotta have these community places where people can have some kind of studio space to at least be able to do things or have access to equipment to do things.”
The paper studio is a papermaker’s dream. They have an extensive inventory of both Western and Eastern styles of industrial grade paper-making equipment, including beaters, a hydraulic press, piles of paper moulds and hand-crafted deckle boxes, and paper-making vats. Among these is the first ever Hanji studio in the US built by Fullbright Scholar, Aimee Lee.
Excerpts taken from the full article at: