Saturday, March 17, 2018

Handmade Paper Artworks
Works on Paper

Marie-Therese Wisniowski

The forerunner of paper was papyrus, processed from the papyrus reed, which grew abundantly along the River Nile in Ancient Egypt. Evidence of Egyptian papyrus, dating as early as 3000 BCE has been found in numerous letters and documents preserved in sealed jars within tombs.

Papyrus sheets were made by removing the fibrous layers from the stem of the reed, and spreading them out side by side to form a sheet. More layers were placed at right angles to the first sheet and the two sets were glued together, probably by moistening with river water or with a paste made from wheat flour.

Papermaking as we know it today originated in China in about 105 AD, during the Eastern Han Dynasty. Under the Emperor Ho Ti, the Minister of Agriculture, T'sai Lin, began experimenting to produce a new material by breaking the inner bark of mulberry trees into fibers and then pounding them into sheets. This new type of paper replaced the traditional writing materials of bamboo and silk. Later, the Chinese discovered that paper could also be made from cotton and linen rags, hemp and old fishing nets.

The process of paper making in ancient China. Stage 1: bamboo shoots are stripped of the outer covering, cut lengthwise, pounded until flattened and soaked in water until the plant fibers dissolve. Stage 2: the fibers are pounded to a pulp. Stage 3: the pulp is heated and left to dry.

In the 8th Century an attack by the Chinese on the Arabs of Samarkand resulted in the capture of many Chinese prisoners. They were exhorted to teach their craft and thus the art of paper making spread throughout the Arab world. By the 9th Century, paper making had spread to Egypt, thereby ending over 4,000 years of papyrus.

Early 8th Century parchment manuscript; the art of paper making was still unknown in Europe.

Papermaking was introduced to Europe in the 12th Century with the Moorish conquest of Spain, and to North America with the Spanish domination of Mexico in the 16th Century. The first paper mill to be established in America was in 1690 at Germantown, Pennsylvania.

For several hundred years, paper was made by breaking down rags into fiber. It was not until 1840, with the process invented by a German, Friedrich Keller, that paper was made by reducing logs into a fibrous pulp. This process was refined in 1867 by an American Benjamin Tilghman and so began the technique used in the modern paper industry today.

Handmade Paper - Works of Art[1]
This post is not concerned with prints on paper nor with origami. Rather it focusses on the transformation of handmade paper into works of art.

Artist: Cindy K. Rogers; Title: Meg, from the Paper Dog Series.
Technique and Materials: Pulled paper, hand sewing, appliqué; cotton rag pulp with lichen, glass beads, dog teeth, brass strings, gouache.
Size: 7 x 9 x 1 inches.

Artist: Ida Irene Guldhammer; Title: Blue Composition.
Technique and Materials: Dyed, torn, painted and lacquered handmade paper.
Size: 120 x 180 x 5 inches.

Artist: Leanne Weissler; Title: Environment 1 Teepee.
Technique and Materials: Poured pulp; gampi paper, bamboo, and flax thread.
Size: 20 x 19 x 15 inches.
Photography: Nick Saraco.

Artist: Donna Guardino; Title: Ceremonial Robe.
Technique and Materials: Handmade paper, painting and assemblage; cotton linters, raffia, shells, feather and willow.
Size: 36 x 40 inches.
Photography: Ron Zak.

Artist: John L. Kopchik; Title: Pink Diamonds.
Technique and Materials: Handmade paper, marbled paper, metallic pigments, thread and glass beads.
Size: 45 x 38 x 2.5 inches, framed.

Artist: Hey Frey; Title: Exit Above.
Technique and Materials: Collage, stitching, painting; handmade paper, acrylic paint, and cotton.
Size: 32 x 40 inches.
Photography: John Guest.

Artist: Kathy Wosika; Title: Hornpipe and Jig to Reel.
Technique and Materials: Wet pulp appliqué; abaca and cotton pulp, and spruce sticks.
Size: 14 x 32 inches.
Photography: E.Z. Smith.

Artist: Yael Bentovim; Title: Flight.
Technique and Materials: Airbrushed home made paper; cotton linter, threaded sisal.
Size: 55 x 50 inches.
Photography: Claire Curran.

Artist: Deborah L. Burton; Title: Edges #1.
Technique and Materials: Handmade paper, acrylic, watercolour and dowels.
Size: 6 x 10 inches each.

Artist: Barbara J. Allen; Title: Yellow Stick Construction.
Technique and Materials: Pleating, weaving, wrapping; handmade flax and abaca paper, linen, wood stick, dye and inks.
Size: 11 x 14 x 3 inches.

Artist: Charles Needy; Title: Mediation, series #130.
Technique and Materials: Handmade cotton paper and dried grasses.
Size: 22.5 x 33 inches.

Artist: Dennis Samuels; Title: Stepping Out.
Technique and Materials: Pieced, machine stitched and appliquéd hand-dyed rice paper.
Size: 36 x 36 inches.
Photography: Vicky Veenstra.

Artist: Kathryn Maxwell; Title: Trouble in Paradise.
Technique and Materials: Handmade paper.
Size: 23 x 29 inches.
Photography: Kathryn Maxwell.

Artist: Lois Dvorak; Title: Life Among the Palms.
Technique and Materials: Handmade paper, flax roving raffia and palm leaf, and ink.
Size: 25 x 32 inches.
Photography: R. Dvorak.

[1] Ed. K. Mathews, FiberArts Design Book Three, Lark Books, Asheville (1987).

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