Thursday, March 3, 2016

Sucker Punch To The Brain: Paper Making Workshop With Kate Horvat

A while back I decided that paper making should be part of my 3D/Sculpture curriculum.  It was just too useful to ignore.  The problem was I only had the vaguest recollection of how to 'do' any of it from a one-day demonstration I received back in the mid 1990s.

Before I left for Northwest Missouri State University this year, I enlisted the help of my friend Dawn Wolford-Metallo to give me a refresher paper making demo.  Over the course of a few hours she happily showed me the basics.

Although a great deal of what I knew came back to me, the overarching problem was that my knowledge as a whole wasn't that much to begin with.  If I was going to add this to my curriculum, I needed to call in some reinforcements........

This was a job that called for Kate Horvat.

I sent Kate an invitation to conduct a two-day paper making workshop.  Here are some images from those sessions.

In addition to making pulp and turning it into paper, Kate also brought a small arsenal of 'how to instructions' and examples to fire up the imaginations of the students.

Before you can make paper (or paper-clay), you need to make pulp.  To make pulp you need material that has cellulose to run through the beater and turn into pulp.  Below you can see old denim jeans that were cut into small squares.

The first batch of material we ran through the beater was recycled paper.  There was just enough red ink on some of the pages to turn the pulp pink.

Apparently 'red pulp make Kate mad'.

The next batch of pulp was created from cut-up blue jeans.  The suds are the result of residual detergent left in the blue jeans from being washed.

After a couple of hours, the blue jean squares get beaten into a pulp.

We put the pulp into a wide trough/contain which allowed Kate to put in the mold and deckle to extract an even layer of pulp.  After a few gentle shakes forwards and backwards, and also left and right, Kate lets the water drain out of the pulp.

What remains is a sheet of extremely moist/delicate pulp.

Kate rocks the mold over a couching blanket and the pulp is transferred from the deckle to the blanket.

We repeated the process until we had a dozen or so sheets of pulp/paper.  After a fair amount of the water is out of the paper (but before it's dry), you can remove the damp sheets of paper from the couching blankets and wrap them around an object.  Once the paper completely dries, you can gently pry it from the object and the paper will retain the shape of the object.  Casting.

Here are some of the things I've been casting with paper for a series of mixed media sculptures I am creating.  Some of them may make an appearance in North On 71.

Paper castings of detergent bottles.  Since the paper wraps around the bottle, I actually have to cut the paper to free to from the bottle and the seal up the seam with hot glue and some fabric.

The other thing from which I have been making castings is an old welding helmet.

I might need to cast a few of these......

A huge thanks to my friend Dawn Wolford-Metallo for first showing me the basics of paper making (you can check out Dawn's work on her website by clicking HERE) and also a big 'thank you' to Kate Horvat for putting on the two-day workshop at Northwest Missouri State University.  You can check out more of Kate Horvat's work by clicking

We'll take a look at what I'm making that requires all of those paper cast welding helmets in a future post.......

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