A Visit to The University of the Arts

A Visit to The University of the Arts

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I spent a week in Philadelphia recently (can you see the LOVE sculpture above? – it was a rainy day!), and I was a visiting artist at the University of the Art (UARTS) for a day, where an old coworker from Dieu Donné Papermill – Cynthia Thompson – is now the director of the MFA Programs in Book Arts/Printmaking and Studio Art.

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Paper studios around the country tend to flourish when the faculty have an interest or training in the field. At other institutions, equipment can lie dormant for years. I love visiting other papermaking studios to see how they are set up, and Cynthia has completely revamped the paper studio. She moved it upstairs from the basement, had a waterproof floor installed, and set up these utility sinks as vats.

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Double sinks have a drainage area built in for resting the mould after pulling a sheet.

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And these baking trays have holes drilled in them so that the water from each student’s post can drip into a bucket beneath. This is crucial in a situation where there isn’t a floor drain. Notice the plastic (i.e. waterproof) tables that are at a good height for couching.

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Felts and pellons are hung on these plastic (waterproof) sawhorses.

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And the drying systems are made up of triwall corrugated cardboard stacked on top of these plastic tables.

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In addition to giving a demo on working with high shrinkage abaca, I got to observe Cynthia’s demo for the grad students on pulp painting – and I picked up some new ideas. She showed them how to pigment highly beaten pulp, add formation aid to make it slippery and apply it to a base sheet with a brush or a squirt bottle. Here we see a mylar stencil laid down onto the base sheet.

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Next, Cynthia squirts a dilute solution of pigmented pulp onto the open area of the stencil.

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The stencil is then removed.

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The stencil can be moved on the base sheet, so that layers of pulp can be built up and shapes appear in varying hues.

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This shows an image where just a line is cut in the stencil and the pulp slips under the line and bleeds onto the base sheet.

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This is the result.

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And finally, a student’s crocheted piece is stretched into this frame and laid over the wet base sheet. 

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Pulp is squirted directly over the netting.

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And here it is once the netting is removed. Cool!

At the end of the day, I was inspired! I’ve already tried using a mylar stencil in my own studio and am planning to use the technique on an upcoming project.

What do you glean from visiting other studios? I’d love to hear.

1 Comment

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