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2018 Conference: Matrices: The Social Life of Paper, Print, and Art articles:

Wishful Beginnings

Rachel Schend

Kathryn Clark at Twin Rocker, circa 1980, she trained many apprentices who spread the craft. (Todd Matus)

Friday, October 26. “The Hand Papermaker’s Database,” Nicole Donnelly ✧ “The Revival of Hand Papermaking in the USA in Late 20th Century,” Peter Thomas ✧ “Order in the Stacks: Organization of a Paper Library,” Virginia Howell

Peter Thomas began the session by describing how the history of hand papermaking in the United States can be divided into to two eras: before 1907, when apprentices were making paper under a master; and after 1907, when individual artists were making paper for their own use. It was in this second era that individuals, such as John Mason and Dard Hunter, began experimenting and then disseminating information, which then led to the revival of interest in handpapermaking and a proliferation of workshops. The students of these classes then dispersed across the country to start their own businesses and teach others the art of papermaking. The revival really was hand-to-hand, passed down through a community of artists.  [Read more]


Adam Bryant

Detail views of the felt hair mark texture of Renaissance paper and a back mark artifact in a Renaissance drawing; such artifacts inform Farnsworth’s investigation of Renaissance paper and his ongoing quest to recreate its exceptional textures for contemporary artists. (Donald Farnsworth)

Saturday, October 27. “Renaissance Paper Texture,” Donald Farnsworth ✧ “Typographical Variants on Wove and Laid Papers in Baskerville’s Virgil,” Cathleen A. Baker

Both presenters gave a lively and engaging account of their extensive research processes and each offered conclusions that highlighted the benefit and difficulties of direct material analysis research.  [Read more]

Ballad of the Adventurers …

Kathryn Rouw

Mhd. Hussain Kagzi getting ready to form a sheet. (Mina Takahashi)

Friday, October 26. “Papermaking by Hand in India,” Radha Pandey ✧ “Daluang Beaten Bark Paper and Contemporary Artists in Indonesia,” Lisa Miles ✧ “Traditional Japanese Kites & their Influence of 21st-Century Kite Makers,” Scott Skinner & Ali Fujino

Radha Pandey discussed papermaking by hand in India and what that process entails, as well as traditional dyeing techniques alongside her own experiments with non-traditional natural dyes. Pandey discussed the history of this kind of paper, and then went on to describe each step in this traditional papermaking process, from the beating of the fiber with large wooden hammers, to the techniques used for pulling sheets, to burnishing the paper on curved wooden boards. Pandey noted that the position the papermaker is in while pulling sheets influences the quality and thickness of the paper, as does the floating action of the mould when in the vat of pulp. Pandey argues that when pulling sheets from the vat, the seated or squatted position of the papermaker is what allows them to consistently make the same thickness of paper throughout an entire run.  [Read more]

Looking for Satellites

Sara Luz Jensen

Lynn Sures Nariokotome Boy, 2017. Colored pencil on handmade kenaf paper, 16″ × 24″. (Lynn Sures )

Saturday, October 27. “The Nexus of Being and Place: Interpreting Human Origins in Handmade Paper,” Lynn Sures ✧ “The Driving Force of the Universe Made Visible,” Heather Peters ✧ “Printmaking with Dirca Bark Paper,” Zachary Hudson and Andrew Zandt

Lynn Sures reported on her work funded by the Smithsonian Artist Research Fellowship into early human and animal origins, beginning with drawings of fossils on her own handmade abaca, flax and hemp paper. After research in museum collections in Washington DC, she traveled to Kenya with her handmade kenaf paper to document archeological sites where early human remains had been found along with evidence of tools and tool making, or “the development of the ‘maker’ in a species that directly preceded ours.” All of these drawings were then reinterpreted in pulp paintings. On the process she says, “These drawings are very literal. I’m trying to understand who I am looking at.”  [Read more]

Tour: Iowa Historical Printing

Rich Dana

Conference attendees in the composing room of the Grinnell Herald-Register composing room. (Tad Boehmer)

Wednesday, October 24. Led by Gary Frost and Rich Dana


As part of the pre-conference historical printing tour on Wednesday, 18 visitors got an exclusive preview of the Grinnell Herald-Register Renovation and Restoration project. Like many small-town papers, the Herald-Register closed their in-house printing operation decades ago, but unlike many others, the owners mothballed the letterpress shop rather than scrapping it. Conference-goers were the first outside group to inspect the local team’s progress in bringing the “back shop” back to life, peruse the extensive collection of standing job type, and talk one-on-one with the Martha Pinder and Peggy (Pinder) Elliot, third-generation owner/publishers of the beloved twice-weekly newspaper.  [Read more]

Giant Paper: A Group Sheet-Forming Event

María Carolina Ceballos

A post sheet-forming group portrait, Timothy Barrett holds the megaphone. (Barry Phipps)

Friday, October 26.  An audience participation demonstration
with Tim Barrett & his team

After a call for assistance, twenty-two people were ready to help with this ambitious project, and a bigger crowd was ready with their cellphones and their enthusiastic presence to see the action. The full 5 × 27 foot sheet required 88 liters of water, 23 liters of (bleached abaca) pulp and 58 liters of formation aid. This solution was gradually and continuously added using buckets at either end while the nearly two dozen volunteers held and moved the mould. Although we tried practicing with 40 lbs. of dry marbles just before the real process, it turned out to be ineffective. Marbles move differently than pulp.  [Read more]

Tours: Iowa City Community Book Arts

Shoko Nakamura

University of Iowa Center for the Book Student Amy Childress visiting the Stone Creek. (Kimberly Maher)

Thursday, October 25. Exhibitions and open studios
in and around the downtown area

Conference participants visited exhibitions and artists’ studios around the downtown area on this tour. One exhibition in the public library’s special collections displayed handmade paper and works using handmade paper from their collection. The downtown shops had a window exhibition that participants enjoyed both from the inside and outside. The community studio, Public Space 1 (PS1), had the Spooky House exhibition; PS1 just remodeled the exhibition space, and the display was also good for this Halloween season.  [Read more]

Yoga for Papermakers

Jocmarys Viruet Feliciano

Nicole Donnelly, foreground, leading Yoga for Papermakers at the Paper Points North annual Friends of Dard Hunter conference at the Banff Center, 2015. (May Babcock)

Saturday, October 27. Demonstration by  Nicole Donnelly

As someone who suffers from insomnia and monkey mind at night, meditation and yoga have always been some of the recommendations that I have received from people. Meditation is a practice that I try to do daily, but somehow it just helps to calm the anxiety that comes with the fact that I didn’t get to sleep. This presentation grabbed my attention because more than being yoga, it was yoga for papermakers. The demonstration, scheduled right after lunch, attracted only four people. Nonetheless, the instructor was highly motivated.  [Read more]

Tour: Make Paper at the 2000 Sheets-Per-Day Rate

Lisa Dunseth

Peeling off the sheet. (Lisa Dunseth. More photos on the Northern California Chapter’s Flickr.)

 Wednesday, October 24

Tim Barrett, our esteemed host from the University of Iowa Center For The Book, instructed seventy-seven conference attendees, in seven one-hour sessions, on how to make paper. Although none of us in my tour even came close to the “2,000 sheets-per-day” rate we certainly enjoyed trying.  [Read more]

Art, Science, and the Book: Historical Books as Matrices for New Works of Art

Annie Schrandt

Saturday, October 27. A panel discussion with Elizabeth Yale (moderator), Julia Leonard, Robert Riter

Elizabeth Yale opened the presentation with a discussion of the role of historical books as the impetus for new book arts. She discussed the experiments that Isaac Newton wrote about in his notebooks, particularly one involving fragmenting light through prisms, the experimentum crucis. These experiments reflect Newton’s conversation between knowledge, visualization, and making, which inspired artists in two shows that she curated with Julie Leonard Micrographia (2015) and Handy Books (2017). Riter’s talk centered on one work: Peter and Donna Thomas’s printing of Celia Finne’s A Record of 17th Century Papermaking. The book is the seventeenth-century diary of an English woman who traveled to papermaking facilities, among other places, and took extensive notes. The Thomases printed their edition in miniature on seventeenth-century paper sourced from unfinished documents. It was supplemented with Donna’s illustrations of paper mills, annotations, and a paper sample paired with one of Finne’s descriptions of that paper. This book is an example of the relationship between materiality, narrative, and recordedness. The book is about seventeenth-century paper and made of this material, offering a feeling of historical resonance while also challenging the reader’s assumption of what seventeenth-century paper is like. Julie Leonard’s presentation also discussed two exhibitions that she worked on regarding scientific books and their makers. She drew inspiration from a 1995 Smithsonian exhibition on the same topic to help make Micrographia and Handy Books. Like the Smithsonian exhibit, these shows invited artists to examine historical books and consider both their content and their role as functional objects. Some artists made works that considered how the books changed over time, either in their physical aging process or in how audiences read them. Some artists created contemporary interpretations that are analogous to their historical predecessors. Leonard discussed many examples from the two exhibits and how artists created different interpretations of the same concept.