Art enables us to find ourselves and lose ourselves at the same time. Thomas Merton

Thursday, June 30, 2011

The $64 Question

Okay. My oldest son is helping me prepare kits for the papermaking workshop I'm giving for the Cullman Fiber Guild (click here for general information on papermaking). We've gotten all the molds and deckles prepared. Gotten the press bars and screens ready. Now he's putting 2 sheets of pristine, unused printer paper in each bag. I want the participants to make a sheet from unused paper as well as recycling junk mail in this workshop. As he folds and stuffs pages, he says, "I just have one question. Why would you make paper from paper?"

Uh. I guess I failed to stress the recycling aspect of this workshop. Reduce, reuse, recycle. Making paper from junk mail is a great way to reduce the amount of paper that we throw away. There are lots of uses for this handmade paper. Cards, memo pads, gift tags, arts and crafts projects, etc. However, I'm not sure I convinced him of the usefulness of making paper from paper. After all, I'm still using water and electricity to pulp the paper, water to form the sheets and (sometimes)electricity to iron the sheets dry, so it isn't entirely green, but it does reduce the amount of unwanted paper that is thrown into the trash. And at this household, junk mail seems to be mostly what we get, so maybe I'm doing a little bit to save a tree.

I explained the whole process of making paper from trees. And the process of making it from cotton or linen rag. Even from making it from old blue jeans (kinda hard to do with a home setup, but can be done if you really want to work a lot). I'm still not sure I made my case.

Anyway, if any of you are interested in recycling junk mail or other used papers, go here and here (12 videos on YouTube) for good instructions by Arnold Grummer, former faculty member of the Institute of Paper Chemistry, former curator of the Dard Hunter Paper Museum, and proponent of this quick and easy method of recycling paper. For videos of Japanese paper making click here and here.

Here are a few of the participants and some of the decorative papers they made during the workshop.

Mrs. G made her first sheet using mostly green paper (washed out in the photo) that she pulped to a fairly fine degree and then added more coarsely processed yellow and other colored papers. In the blender it looked like guacamole.

Mr. H. is a woodworker and hobbyist of many things and had all sorts of wonderful things to include in his pulp. Here's his first sheet below.

Everyone seemed to have had a lot of fun grinding up paper and sloshing around in pulpy water. I'll bet some folks used an iron more than they had in years! Maybe they will recycle their excess mail, too.

N.B. I still don't know if No. 1 Son appreciated my response to his "$64 question." For those of you who are of the 50+ generations, you might remember the TV quiz show, "The $64,000 Question."

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Obstacles to Weaving

I love to weave, but there are a couple of things that keep me from getting to weave as often as I'd like, especially since the oldest son is now back at home and has reclaimed his room which was my studio while he was elsewhere. That means I am unable to set up the table loom in a room that can be closed off from the cats. Here is what happened during my latest attempt at weaving.

Pants: "What??"

Twink: "Cool! Check it out!"

Pants: "I fit just perfectly."

Twink: "My turn!"

Twink: "Pretty cool from up here, too."

Twink: "What??"

Saturday, June 18, 2011


PetCat having a snooze after spending a long night in a hidey place in the den because he was afraid of the thunder and lightning from the storm.

Monday, June 6, 2011