Thursday, December 31, 2009


2009 began with thoughts on labyrinths, so it seems fitting to end the year with my creations. I wanted to make a sculptural piece to hold in the palm of the hand and trace with the finger. I had to go to the ancient labyrinth form and work with 3 layers to fit the size I wanted. I made a clay mould to cast my recycled pulp on and made a color sheet to cover the cork backing. Everything is painted with a clear acrylic varnish.

I hope people who get these find serenity as their fingers follow the path from the beginning to the center and back again. The labyrinth reminds us to be aware of the journey and not focus only on the destination. A good thought as we face a new year.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Friday, November 20, 2009

Original Card Art to Frame

Saturday morning I set up the second of my four holiday shows this winter. A friend recently asked if I would make a card that could be given as a gift- to drop a piece of original art into a standard frame. So I chose this bamboo design. By trimming the card, I was able to drop it into a 4x6 frame from a discount store. I could also have drop mounted the card onto mat board in a 5x7 frame or mat opening. So here it is – an original art card suitable for framing.

The design of this piece is based on a drawing I made of a bamboo fountain my daughter gave me for Mother’s Day one year. In order to make a clay mould, I had to change the design to bamboo in a bowl, but I like the simplicity. I painted this cast paper with watercolors and acrylics and drop mounted it on a piece of wall paper.

Monday, October 5, 2009

Thoughts on Fall

I can hardly believe we need the furnace to take the chill off the early fall weather. My Black-eyed Susans are nearly spent – time to pull them out of the garden. And I’ll pick the last of the rhubarb to make a few more batches of cobbler and jam (then home-made bread to spread it on). A few leaves on the local maple trees are already turning color.

Time for the holiday arts and crafts fairs to begin.

Since so many people are feeling the pinch of the tight economy, I’m making a special line of matted and framed pieces for this year’s shows. They are small, personal pieces of handmade paper with flowers and leaves I gathered from the garden and pressed for this line. The prices are very low. When life gets difficult and stress levels rise, I think we need beauty to calm our spirits. I made these intimate pieces to speak to souls in troubled times and whisper a quiet word that all is well. Just right to place on a dresser or give to a special friend. I hope people enjoy them.

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Making a Concept Piece for Grace Church

Here is the concept piece I worked on in August for Grace Church.

Worshipers took home half sheets of blue and yellow papers with scripture verses and questions for reflection and meditation. The following week they brought their papers to the baptismal font, tore them up and dropped them in the water.

The next few weeks I picked leaves from the day lilies and lilies of the valley in my garden, cooked them in my fiber pot with chemicals, and incorporated them into the torn paper to make a pulp. I even pressed a few petals from the lilies and added a few wild flowers.

Here’s the thing about concept pieces: you read about an idea and it’s so interesting you just have to try it out. I read about thread-embedded paper to make a patchwork quilt effect and just had to try it. This means I poured the pulp into my deckle box for a sheet of paper, took it out, placed nylon threads a half inch from the edges on all four sides, made another sheet and couched it directly on top of the first, sandwiching in the threads to make them part of the paper. Day after day, over forty times. You’ll notice only half of them are in the frame in this picture. We’ll call the papers on the frame not shown our “practice piece” that showed us what didn’t work. Did you know nylon thread is practically invisible? Especially when you’re trying to tie it in removable bows on a frame.

But in the end we had recycled green paper that resulted from blue and yellow offered meditations mixed with lilies (“behold the lilies of the field….”) arranged in the shape of a cross. Other papers, some red (signifying shed blood), some green mixed with red, were placed around the cross in the frame. And we could see something new created from the old. This visual art was displayed for our communion service.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

More Papyrus

I think Beverly, Dorothy and Terry made some amazing papyrus pieces at our workshop at The Center. Because of the history of papyrus, I thought making it from local plants and products made the most sense. I got a little carried away at the produce department and farmers' market, so my basement fridge is still overwhelmed with vegetables.
The process is specific, but simple. And look at the possibilities! Wouldn't these look beautiful framed for kitchen art? Or laminated for coasters? Or hung in a window? They are translucent and feel like vellum. It's so exciting to see artists inspire each other with new ideas in a new medium.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Making Papyrus

I've been making papyrus this month. Here you see banana leaf papyrus, tamale papyrus, mixed veggie papyrus, zucchini papyrus and carrot papyrus. As you can see, these fibers are not dispersed in water. It's a very interesting process - next on to fruit. One small aside: I've banned beets from my press.

Monday, June 15, 2009

Artist's Statement

I draw my inspiration from the amazing world around me, and want to share the beauty I see in nature in my artwork. Incorporating objects from nature into my work allows me to display rich color and texture in a single formed sheet of paper.

My love for fibers began in my childhood as I watched my mother, a gifted dress designer and seamstress, creating unique garments with an array of fabrics at her Singer sewing machine. Growing plants at home reminds me of my mother’s garden; I have an abundance of lilies of the valley, tiger lilies, roses, lilacs and rhubarb. I press the flowers and petals to incorporate into my papers, and cook the stems and leaves to use as botanical fiber inclusions in my pulps.

I first experienced the exquisite touch of thick, cotton paper in my college printmaking class. Years later, after watching a paper-making demonstration, I began reading books on the subject in my local library. The materials were simple enough: torn paper, water, wooden frames, screens and felts. I immediately felt comfortable enough with the medium to stray from the directions in books when they didn’t feel right for me. I love the process of dipping a mold and deckle into a vat of pulp, and the deckle boxes I’ve made for myself and my students work well in my work space.

I enjoy making visually pleasing designs with simple shapes and colors in my pulp paintings, incorporating my love for drawing by making templates for a series - much like an edition of prints - which I number and sign. My love for cast paper began when I pressed pulp into a ceramic cookie mould. I now make my own clay moulds to cast paper reliefs and sculptures.

Human beings, made in the image of their Creator, are by nature creative. I thrive in the excitement-filled atmosphere when students marvel at the beautiful papers they have just formed. And I love the process of bringing pulp to paper that is, itself, a piece of art.

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Artist's Reception

Forty to fifty people attended the artist's reception for my one woman show of hand made paper artworks in Palos Hills, IL, on the evening of April 30, 2009. Eighteen framed pieces, a dozen unframed pieces, and a rack of cards were on display for the month of April in the hall of Dr. Rory McKenna's office. That evening I shook a lot of hand, hugged a lot of friends, and generally basked in the joy of the event. Then I got to enjoy counting the 8 sold signs on the framed art work, in addition to the many unframed pieces and cards that also sold. I'm still smiling.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Earth Day 2009

This year I joined a dozen other presenters in Evergreen Park’s Earth Day celebration at the Activity Center with a paper-making demonstration on Saturday, April 25. From 9am – 2pm I made recycled pulp in a blender, botanical papers with pressed flowers from the garden, pulp paintings, cast paper, and gift cards with envelopes. Several dozen visitors, adults and children, stopped at my table to make bookmarks with confetti paper or cast paper medallions using cookie molds I provided. With all that activity, I spent most of the time on my feet, so I was glad to soak them in the tub when I got home.

Monday, March 9, 2009

How It's Done

Admit it, you've always wanted to know how paper is made. So here it is - a photo commentary of me making paper at the Columbia College Center for Book and Paper Arts paper-making studio in Chicago.

1. The vat is full of 100% cotton fiber pulp.
2. After dipping the screen and deckle, I pull it up and let excess water drip off. Then I remove the deckle.
3. I walk over to my couching area (pronounced cooch - it's a French thing) where my plywood board has wet layers of felt and non-woven fiber pellon.
4. In a rolling motion, I press the wet pulp onto the wet pellon.
5. Wet attracts wet, so the sheet transfers from the screen to the pellon.
6. As I make more sheets, I separate them with more layers of wet pellon.
7. I stack the same size sheets on top of each other in each layer.
8. For pulp paintings, I pour over-beaten dyed pulp onto the newly formed sheet.
9. With the addition of a top layer of pellon and felt, my work gets sandwiched between another plywood board and goes into the hydraulic press. Here two things happen: water is squeezed out, and the pressure causes the chemical hydrogen bonding process - which means the sheet is no longer pulp, it is paper, and only needs to dry.

So now you know.

Friday, January 30, 2009

Winter Inspiration

On a very cold morning I sat in a coffee shop and watched cars driving carefully while the snow continued to fall. My car guys repaired an unfortunate meeting of the under-bumper of my car with a very big chunk of ice in a parking spot on the north side. This happened to my husband, Rich, while I was at a Mindfulness & Miracles Retreat at The Center last weekend.
While he was driving on Lake Shore Drive, I was eating breakfast in silence after taking 15 minutes to mindfully enjoy eating a single grape. While he ate breakfast with our daughter and went to his class at Lillstreet, I followed deer tracks in the snowy woods and walked the labyrinth for a second time. First time was by candlelight, second in the fresh, bright daylight.
I'm grateful for the opportunity I had to slow down and focus on the tiny miracles that surround us every day. I'm sure my meditations from the labyrinth will appear in the artwork I do this year.

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Holiday Art Shows

Some of my framed art work joined that of other Chicagoland artists in "Art for the Hungry," an art show at Jacob's Well in Evergreen Park, from November 14-16. A portion of the proceeds from the entrance fees helped support the local food pantry.
The Center's Christmas Art Show and Sale was November 16. I joined the talented and creative art instructors from The Center to display and sell my cards and mounted and framed artwork.
McCord Gallery in Palos Park accepted my work in their juried show from November 22 - December 27, where over a dozen of my pieces sold.

A November Demonstration

Little Company of Mary Hospital hosts the CHEER program to support and encourage patients and families who are living with difficult diagnoses. I met with them on November 12, demonstrated the papermaking process and showed some of my framed art work. The people attending then made their own unique bookmarks out of recycled pulp, adding pressed flower petals from my garden.