Paper For Water

Paper For Water is a non-profit organization that raises money to build wells around the world so that everyone will have access to clean water. Listen to Isabelle and Katherine describe how they started the organization with a goal of raising $500 by folding origami ornaments and accepting donations for them when they were 5 and 8 years old. They ended up raising $10,000 and never looked back. Paper for Water has now raised more than $1.3M and has helped fund over 150 water projects in fourteen countries. Trinity talks about how she invented the Candy Dish, which is featured in the 2019 Twelve Months of Paper Calendar. Their father Ken taught the girls origami, which he learned as a child from his Japanese mother and then from the books of Tomoko Fuse, whose modular origami led to the ornaments his girls now create. And their mother Deborah tells us about some of the projects, the volunteers and just how much of a difference kids can make in changing the world.

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Melissa Jay Craig

Melissa Jay Craig is a Chicago artist. In this episode, she explains how her first artist’s residency coincided with having just learned about papermaking, and how instead of lugging 400 books to the residency to create the type of work she had been making, she took just two books and some kozo fiber and was able to cast paper-shaped books instead. We discuss a nomadic artistic life comprised of a period in which she traveled around the country doing residencies and teaching gigs. And we touch on one of her works, S/Edition, that ended up going viral by being featured on This is Colossal.

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Matt Simpson

Matt Simpson is founder and CEO of Green Banana Paper in Micronesia. We talk about how Matt ended up on this remote island as a teacher, his desire to stay there and surf, and how he put two and two together when he realized that all of his students were leaving the island to find work and that the banana fiber that had been used to make clothing in the distant past could also be made into paper. Listen to how Green Banana Paper creates jobs through sustainable practices on the tiny island of Kosrae, with a people population of 6000 and a banana tree population of 250,000. It’s fascinating!

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Melissa Potter

Through her practice, which includes art making, writing, curating and teaching, Melissa Potter focuses on traditions that are endangered, underpaid and under-recognized due to industrialization, war, gender bias, and globalization. In this episode, we discuss her Quaker upbringing in New Jersey that instilled her desire to be an activist, how she has expanded upon The Papermaker’s Garden (that I initiated at Dieu Donné Papermill in the mid 90’s) and has continued to develop it as a socially engaged practice. We also discuss her career path – as an advocate for artists at the New York Foundation for the Arts, her work through the Fulbright Program to build paper studios at the University of Serbia and the University of Sarajevo and her current position as Associate Professor of Art & Art History at Columbia College Chicago, where some of her goals are to give students who may never have access to a papermaking studio after college a transformative experience and to document the legacy of hand papermaking as a craft form in the United States.

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Tom Leech

In this episode, Tom Leech tells us about his early memory of the smell of paper, when his missionary aunt sent him toys from Japan wrapped in Japanese paper; his first experience with papermaking when he studied sculpture and printmaking with Winifred Lutz; and how his interest in environmentalism led him to make recycled paper at 18,000 feet on Mt. Everest. He also tells us about reintroducing monks at a monastery in Tibet to hand papermaking and how the word ‘recycled’ wasn’t translatable so the closest they could come was to call it reincarnated paper. At that point, everyone at the monastery was interested!

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Pat & Peter Gentenaar

Today I’m talking with husband and wife Pat Gentenaar Torley & Peter Gentenaar in the town of Delft in The Netherlands. Peter & Pat met in the late 60’s at the California College of Arts & Crafts (now California College of the Arts) in Oakland and settled in the Netherlands shortly afterwards. Peter talks about how the struggle to make three dimensional prints led him to envision making his own paper, and how an introduction to commercial papermaking at the Royal Dutch Paper Factory got him started. Pat talks about how studying fiber arts at CCA with well-known fiber artist Trude Gueromonprez ultimately led her to creating pulp paintings before there was even a name for the technique. We discuss how they navigated the financial support system for Dutch artists, raised two daughters, and restored the historic farmhouse where they still live and work.

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Mina Takahashi

In this episode, Mina Takahashi reveals how a college internship in Philadelphia planted the seed for her career in hand papermaking, she talks about a key moment when a Japanese papermaker showed her his hands and she understood what it means to dedicate yourself to a process, material and way of life, and she discusses her visit to a Thai village where they made hospital gowns out of handmade paper. We also talk about her work as an advocate and promoter for hand papermaking as an artistic medium as director of Dieu Donne Papermill and her current position as editor of Hand Papermaking Magazine.

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Susan Gosin

In this episode, Sue Gosin discusses her childhood in a commercial papermaking family and her desire to get away from paper. But she saw paper in a new light during her college years at the university of Madison and shortly afterwards moved to NYC to start a paper studio in a loft in Soho in 1976. She tells the story of how the mill almost fell through the floor when they first turned on the Hollander beater and how she met the painter Howard Hodgkin when he walked into her bathroom. We talk about how young the field of hand papermaking was when she started and how she had to find rags in the garment district, research chemicals to come up with the proper pigments for coloring pulp and commissioned a press that looked like a tinker toy compared to the other equipment in the Brooklyn Navy Yard. Sue’s journey ends with a glimpse of the show she is currently co-curating with Mina Takahashi at the International Print Center New York, which will tell the story of how hand papermaking has been revolutionized from a craft into an art form.

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Priscilla Robinson

Priscilla Robinson is an artist who divides her time between studios in Austin, Texas and Taos, New Mexico. In the early 1980’s she began working with handmade paper, when she was exhibiting abstract paintings in Santa Fe. Her work has been shown internationally, she exhibits regularly in national and international galleries and she has created commissions for Boston University, Chevron, Vanderbilt University, and Kaiser Permanente to name a few.

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Beck Whitehead

Beck Whitehead is a San Antonio artist who served as Chair of Papermaking and Book Arts at the Southwest School of Art until 2016. In addition she has taught workshops in papermaking around the country and in Canada. Exhibitions include the Center for Book and Paper Arts in Chicago and the Robert C. Williams American Museum of papermaking in Atlanta.

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