“The paper burns, but the words fly free.” ― Akiba Ben Joseph. 

      Back in May, 2019, there was an impromptu gathering of three of us who just happen to be part of our new art and crafts group; The Art Shack.  One of us, Tina, is an established artist while two of us are more hobby artists.  Following the wonderful meal that Tina made, and a glass of wine or three, we set about making sheets of paper!

(My cousin, Debbie, and I making our first sheets of paper).

     Being a writer, I always have jottings of my thoughts and ideas as I form stories and poetry and so we used some of my jottings for the exercise.  The paper had been shredded and then added to water and ‘blitzed’ in a  blender, to form a squidgy pulp.  This was stored in a bucket and kept damp.

     We then each took an amount of the squidgy pulp and placed it onto a frame and grill; the latter having fine holes that allowed the water to drip through when we pressed onto the pulp.  This flattened the pulp and forced the water out.  The frame, itself, created the boundary; effectively the template for the shape of what the finished paper would look like.  In this case, simple and concise rectangles.

     Once we were happy that the water had been forced though, the newly formed sheet of paper could be laid onto a slab and left to dry.  This actually takes days and so we did not get to see the finished articles that evening, but we were each happy that our paper sheets had been formed.

     For me, since this was formed of pulp that had come from my own thoughts and jottings, I felt emotionally invested into the paper.  My ideas, my thoughts and my imagination are stored in the words scrawled onto those sheets and now they have been reformed to create a fresh piece of paper.  While this new paper will be usable, it contains a hidden meaning, a history and maybe even an energy.   This is what truly makes the paper making more than a simple crafting exercise, but one of artistry.

I’ve put my finished sheets together as an artwork.

     For example, in the early summer of this year, Tina held an exhibition at The Cut in lovely Halesworth.  One of her exhibition pieces was of two sheets of paper; home made in this way. The two sheets of paper were much alike and barely one distinguishable from the other.

(Tina’s two sheets of paper. Apologies, my shot here focuses largely on one of them, but you can just see the other, to the left).

     These two sheets formed one art piece.  How come? Well, one was formed of the pulped pages of a Bible and the other was formed of the pulped pages of a copy of fiction novel ‘Fifty Shades of Grey’.  Once this fact is known, we are transported into the intellectual and emotional response to these two sheets of paper; based upon what they originally were and, to no small extent, in response to how we feel about them sitting side by side.  Every viewer will find their own meaning in will have their own response to an art piece such as that.

     My message here is that crafting new sheets of designer paper is fun in itself.  You can use a variety of materials and colours; even throw in glitter, small pieces of objects, material, photographs and coloured paper.  However, think of how meaningful the paper you create can be when it is formed of something of significance, importance or sentiment to you, the creator of it.  For example, if the paper is a gift to the person you love, then what if it was formed of the pulped bus tickets that brought you together when you met for your first ten dates?  What if it is a gift to someone you must say goodbye to and it contains words or letters you have penned about how you have valued that person or, conversely, how you are glad to see the back of them!   We move from crafting into artistry by adding meaning.

     What are your thoughts?  Have you created or received sheets of paper?  What is the story behind your pieces?  Please feel free to share your story in the comments, below.

To learn more about Tina Hannay’s exhibition, at The Cut, see my article:

Interview with Tina Hannay, by Dean G. Parsons.

(C) Dean G. Parsons. 2019.

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