Douglass Howell, a Conversation with Elisabeth Howell King

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2.5 years old Elisabeth Howell King with her father, sitting on Douglass Howell’s studio press, 1954.

Douglass Howell is probably the first person to have used hand papermaking as an artistic medium as early as the 1940’s, creating what he called Papetries which were shown at the Betty Parsons Gallery in NYC. Howell mentored several people, who went on to establish papermaking studios and paper programs at the university level. His daughter, Elisabeth Howell King, tells me how she had her own vat in her father’s studio as a child, and how Howell had a childhood mentor in Italy who let him hold original drawings by Michelangelo and DaVinci – and how he told her about how those really old handmade papers still looked new. This is just the tip of the iceberg about the life of a fascinating man and his life with paper.

Douglass Howell, Synchronic Drawing, 1966, linen rag paper with embedded thread, watercolor, photo by Nicole Donnelly.

You can read more about Douglass Howell in an essay by Nicole Donnelly in Papermaker’s Tears.


Music featuring excerpts of Makin’ Paper folk song by Peter Thomas. Listen to the full song and find out about other paper and book arts folk songs.

Gary A. Hanson did the sound editing for this episode.  He practices and refines his skills in audio production while making his own podcast I’ll Have a Beer and Talk, a show about tech news, culture, weird animal stories and of course, beer. Gary is also the Deckle in Pulp & Deckle, a Portland-based community hand papermaking studio.