Bark Cloth

Bark Cloth

The Sunday Paper #117, July 24, 2016

Paper of the Week: Bark Cloth/aka Tapa


I visited the Denver Art Museum about a week ago and stumbled across an exhibit on bark cloth. From the exhibition display: Artists from across vast watery stretches of islands in the South Pacific have been sculpting, weaving, carving, and painting artworks for hundreds of years. This exhibition celebrates one unique tradition of making cloth from the bark of trees. (My note: this is the same bark we use to make Eastern-style papers, but instead of macerating the fiber, the people in the South Pacific pound the bark to flatten it into sheets, sometimes pounding pieces together to make really big sheets). The making and designing of bark cloth is a significant creative practice throughout the region. The lives of the islands’ inhabitants are – literally and figuratively – wrapped up in this art form. This unexpected material has played a central role in nearly all aspects of life from birth to death including baby swaddling, elaborate clothing, everyday bed linens, dramatic ceremonial mask, bridal dowries, wealth display, and burial shrowds.


In the Studio: I’ve been working on a long-distance collaboration for the past two years with Karen Kunc who runs Constellation Studios in Lincoln, NE (definitely worth a trip). We came up with a plan when I was in Lincoln to teach a workshop. I made the paper featuring a watermark in my Colorado studio and then shipped it to Karen. She carved woodblocks and printed the accordion book in her studio. We met up again last week in my studio (after she spent a week teaching nearby at Anderson Ranch) to discuss the final phase. Here we are with the book between us (look closely and you’ll see the watermarks). The final pieces include a clever box, a box label and the colophon. It won’t be long before it’s done!


Also of note:

  • I’m having an open studio August 13th & 14th from 10am – 5pm as part of the Red Cliff Studio Tour (400 Pine Street, Studio #1, Red Cliff, CO). If you’re in the area, please stop by!
  • Do you know about these how-to guides featuring simple paper projects that are fun to make?

I’m glad I caught this in my FB feed on Friday, and I think you’ll be interested as well. Check out this gorgeous tibetan woodblock of the Goddess White Tara which Jim Canary purchased in Northern India in 1979 at Tashijong. Jim is hand printing on handmade lokta paper using a Daniel Smith waterbased ink. The image is 17″ x 13 1/2 “  and he’s selling these prints ($30 each, I ordered mine already) to help fund his trip to Asia to document papermakers, block carvers and the traditional method of making palm leaf manuscripts. Jim will be travelling in China,Thailand Cambodia Laos and Myanmar. $5 from each sale will be sent to hand papermakers in Nepal for continued assistance in earthquake damaged areas. If you’d like a print, you can send $30 via paypal to (Cold Mountain).
jim's print
My husband and daughter love watching the Amazing Race (in case you don’t know, it is a reality TV game show). This episode features a Papermaking Challenge in Madagascar! If you aren’t familiar with the show, there are a series of challenges and teams get to pick between two events for each challenge. And guess what, NONE of the teams chose the papermaking challenge! Instead they opted to carry a mattress on their heads for a mile. Scroll forward to 18:50 to see the details of the challenge that nobody took!

I was doing a bit of research earlier this week about wrapping paper and found this article in The Atlantic. Wowza! I learned about the beginnings of the empire started by Joyce and Rollie Hall. You’ll have to read to the end of the article to make the same discovery!
I’ve written about French street artist Mademoiselle Maurice before. Here’s her latest work: Lunar Cycles, a large-scale installation comprising 15,000 colorful origami birds. Created in collaboration with Mathgoth Gallery in Paris, the celestial-inspired artwork spans an area of over 2,000 square meters and is the biggest urban mural ever created in the French capital. I wonder how the birds are affixed and whether they end up flying away.
Last week I wrote about paper tessellations. Here’s an article about the artist Polly Verity who makes amazing pieces utilizing this technique.


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