Willow Bark Paper Adventure- Part 1

Today I started on a paper making adventure with my friend Gwen Diehn. Gwen is one of the most creative people I know. She is fearless in her approach to making things. She'll try anything that interests her and she always has a ready laugh to accompany her mischief. This trait, of course, makes being around Gwen all the more fun. For the last 9 months Gwen and Laura Ladendorf have been collaborating on a small book edition for BookOpolis 2012. The paper they used for the edition is black willow bark paper that Gwen made in the BookWorks paper making studio. It is a lovely pinkish color with the desirable quality of being very strong- meaning it can handle printing/working on both sides without bleeding or strike thru even when using wet media. Below is Gwen and Laura's book, Faubourg nan main Bon Dieu (Neighborhood in the hands of the Good God).


Ever since Gwen showed me her willow bark paper and it's appealing qualities the idea of making some myself has been gaining steam in my spirit. I have never made paper before. I admire handmade paper, but until recently haven't had the desire to be part of the process. I guess a paper charmer has been secretly playing a paper flute in my ear the last few months because I feel myself drawn to making this willow bark paper. So, over the next few weeks (as schedules allow) Gwen and I are going to make PAPER! Here's what we did today-

Gwen gathering willow
spiders like willow too
stripping the bark off the branches

inner bark
jessie of the willows
stripped willow branches
I brought my bag-o-bark home and put it into a large bucket of water. There it will soak for a couple of weeks. The idea is to soften the bark so you can strip off the dark part. To make paper we want only the inner bark. Gwen told me that it's possible to use the outer bark, but if you do your paper will be freckled. We decided to make non-freckled paper this time.


New Studio

June 13th I moved into Northlight Studios. My friend and fellow artist, Wendy Whitson, and her husband, John Davis, recently bought a lovely old building on Depot Street in the River Arts District. Years ago the building housed a tannery. One of the photos above shows a section of the brick wall outside my studio that still retains a painting illustrating the correct way to take off a hide. Asheville Greenworks occupies the ground floor along with photographer, Laurie McCarriar. Wendy, (painter), Denise Wolcott (jeweler), and I have studios upstairs. Mine faces the street and is filled with light all day long. We are open Fridays 11-4 so please stop by if you're in the neighborhood.