Helen’s 100 Papery Picks for 2021

Helen’s 100 Papery Picks for 2021

Happy New Year! Whether you’re just discovering this blog or you’ve followed it from the beginning (we’re coming up on eight years!) I truly appreciate your ongoing support! Thank you for following along on this paper journey.

This year, I’ve started a new tradition – an end of the year list of my favorite papery things. It’s actually a Top 10 Top 10 List (yes, that’s 100!) – from tools to tutorials, inspirations to online explorations – I hope you enjoy reading through it as much as I enjoyed putting it together. 

I would love to know your favorites too – please leave your comments below. And feel free to share this list with your paper-loving friends. Enjoy!

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Paper: Figuring out which paper will work best for a particular project is tricky, but it can be a delightful journey. There are so many qualities – thickness, opacity, foldability – to name a few. My advice: try it and see if it works. If it does, it becomes a favorite paper. If it doesn’t, you learned something! Here are 10 papers I enjoyed using this year.

  1. Momigami or Crinkled Papers were used to make paper fabric for clothing in old Japan, but they also make great book covers, are fun to stitch on, and much, much more.
  2. A watermark is a translucent design incorporated into a wet sheet of paper when it is made that becomes visible when the dry sheet is held up to the light. I remember the first time I saw one and comprehended how it was created – magic!  There are very few watermarked papers on the market and this wood grain paper is one of my faves.
  3. I discovered Rock Paper, which is literally made from rocks using a patented process (I’ll be interviewing the makers on Paper Talk in 2022). I have yet to explore this paper’s potential, but Laurie Moorhead made these gorgeous Shadow Ornaments.
  4.  Artisans throughout the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico use ancient techniques to create unique and deeply colored Huun Mayan paper. Made from the lengua de vaca plant, sheets are pounded with a specially carved stone, which adds texture to one side of the paper while the other side remains smooth. I’ve used this paper to make book covers.
  5. Awagami Nature Papers are made in Tokushima, Japan. They contains delicate flecks of vegetable matter from this agricultural heartland.
  6. Iris Nevins has been making hand marbled papers since 1978 and her specialty is the reproduction of early marbled papers, particularly the ones from about 1800 – 1860. Her papers are in the Paper Legacy Project at the Metropolitan Museum of Art.
  7. Kelsey Pike runs Sustainable Papercraft in Kansas City, Kansas, where she creates fine handmade papers and custom, hand-carved rubber stamps. Her Monthly Paper Parcels contain 4-8 different types and colors of unique handmade papers.
  8. Kite paper is similar to waxed paper and comes in brilliant colors. It is translucent and folds well. It is traditionally used in the Netherlands for handmade kites and is also used to create window stars.
  9. When you make your own paper, you can try out your wild ideas. One of my favorites to make is bendable paper: paper + embedded wire = a new material that you can manipulate.
  10. Tony Carlone makes paper from natural plant fibers using locally sourced agricultural waste as well as harvests from his garden.

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Techniques: There are so many ways to transform paper, and I am fascinated with all of them! Take a walk on the wild side with paper by following the links below – you might just end up in a paper vortex.

  1. If you add air to paper, what do you get? Paper Inflatables!
  2. Recently, I took a class with Kelli Anderson through Cooper Union, and she introduced us to the jitterbug, a structure that Buckminster Fuller pioneered, and Ron Resch explored in depth. Here are some of my explorations with colored cubes and jewelry boxes.
  3. In that paper engineering class we also explored the Möbius strip. You have to TRY it to BELIEVE it! Check out a classmate’s Möbius strip running through a thermal printer. Another participant created this unique and meaningful Paper Spell for Grief (he includes instructions for making your own Möbius strip to honor a loved one).
  4. How many ways can you cut a sheet of paper? Watch Béatrice Coron’s Ted Talk, and take a look at what she’s wearing!
  5. There are many styles of origami, and one that puzzles me to no end is the tessellation. Madonna Yoder of Gathering Folds has a free 5-week course if you want to get a glimpse into this world.
  6. Slice Forms: there’s an app for that!
  7. Jean-Paul LeConte has been methodically mastering pop-ups over the past few years, and he shares his journey on Instagram. He’s also the co-founder of Best Pop-Up Books, a website loaded with tutorials, reviews and interviews about pop-ups.
  8. Have you heard of the old form of letterlocking? It is so cool!
  9. Paper Weaving seems to have originated with the kindergarten movement in Germany in the early 1800s, through the work of Friedrich Froebel. It is now gaining momentum as an art form.
  10. The Italian family-owned business, Uashmama, creates a line of innovative products for the home with a washable paper.

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Online Resources: I’m still a fan of actual books, paper, and libraries, but there’s no arguing that the internet allows us to share and learn about things we might never discover in the analog world. Here are ten blogs and organizations that spread the love of paper.

  1. Cathryn Miller of Byopia Press does an annual Advent countdown with free daily tutorials on her blog.  My favorite this year was this post about volvelles.
  2. Artist Paula Beardell Krieg creates works on paper, teaches book arts, and integrates math into her work and instruction. She blogs regularly and shares generously at Playful Bookbinding and Paper Works.
  3. Ann Martin, a quilling enthusiast, has been exploring the worlds of creative paper art and paper craft over at All Things Paper since 2009. Topics range from the latest on the craft scene – stylish paper-related DIYs, trends, and book reviews – to interviews with established paper artists and emerging artisans with big ideas.
  4. The International Association of Hand Papermakers and Paper Artists (IAPMA) is a membership organization for paper artists that was founded in 1986 in Düren, Germany. While paper history and production are one facet of the Association’s activities, the central focus is the role of paper as an art form and a contemporary artistic medium.
  5. Hand Papermaking’s print and online publications chronicle the finest work in the field of hand papermaking, while advancing the scholarship and production of handmade paper and paper art. The biannual print journal includes tipped-in paper samples; how cool is that?! Fun fact: I made the paper for the 2021 Year End Broadside, which features a lovely poem called “Why Paper?” by Akua Lezli Hope.
  6. North American Hand Papermakers is an organization that brings together people interested in hand papermaking, to encourage sharing of practical, historical, and artistic knowledge about the craft.
  7. Louise Levergneux, who writes the 1/2 Measure Studio Blog, put together a fascinating post about how book artists (yours truly included) have weathered the pandemic.
  8. The Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking has an impressive set of online resources. In addition to the museum’s Paper Play series, you’ll also find a teacher’s handbook, info on the history of papermaking, lecture recordings and coloring sheets under their Resources section.
  9. I always enjoy watching Trish Witkowski’s Super Cool Fold of the Week. She focuses on printed materials, but many of the folds and techniques she shares could be applied to book arts and paper crafts.
  10. Jade Quek keeps tabs for us on everything book and paper-related with her Book & Paper Arts Calendar.

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Books: My collection of how-to books about paper continues to grow, and I was fortunate to have an intern this fall who organized them. Here are ten favorites.

  1. Washi, The World of Japanese Paper, by Sukey Hughes. Hughes spent time in Japan in the 1970’s, visiting papermakers who made all kinds of papers for a variety of traditional Japanese paper crafts. She documented her findings in this book that covers the evolution of paper in Japan, how washi is made, and the people who make it. There’s a section dedicated to descriptions of at least 100 of the most common Japanese papers. This is one of the first books I acquired for my collection.
  2. I’ve written about Paper For Water, the nonprofit founded by two young girls who started folding origami to transform lives by bringing water and the Word to the thirsty. Katherine and Isabel Adams (16 and 18 years old!) just published a book, One Piece of Paper at a Time, in celebration of the organization’s 10th anniversary.
  3. I learned about the work of Ekaterina Lukasheva from the girls at Paper For Water. She has a new book called Curved Folding. Doesn’t folding a curve sound impossible? Lukasheva has perfected the process and shares all of her tips and tricks through a series of curved models.
  4. Edited by Neil Holt, Nicola von Velsen and Stephanie Jacobs, Paper: Materials, Medium and Magic explores every aspect of paper: its history, composition, production, application, and trade. Beginning with the anatomy of paper and its earliest forms, this book investigates how paper evolved from a symbol of political and economic importance and as a carrier of ideas (from literature to art, design, and music) to a medium with different surfaces, opacities, weights, and volumes used for printing, typography, graphic design, origami, architecture, and fashion.
  5. Complete Origami by Eric Kenneway is not your typical origami book. It is an A-Z of facts and folds.
  6. The protagonist  of Audrey Niffenegger’s The Time Traveler’s Wife is a papermaker! This is a captivating love story (I read it in one sitting on a long plane flight) about Henry, who time travels involuntarily and Clare, whose life takes a natural sequential course. The Time Traveler’s Wife was made into a Hollywood movie, and Niffenegger is currently spearheading the renovation of an old mansion in Chicago that will become Artists Book House.
  7. I can’t wait to receive my copy of The Complexities of Pop-Up, a new publication by master paper engineers David A. Carter and James Diaz, published by Poposition Press.
  8. Paul Jackson’s book, Folding Techniques for Designers: From Sheet to Form, is a best seller and has been translated into many languages, along with his other design books, which have all been influential in establishing folding as a language of design.
  9. Hedi Kyle is a household name in the field of book arts, and she has pioneered so many ways to fold book and paper structures. The Art of the Fold is a must-have. Take a tour of the projects through Elissa Campbell’s rendition of every project in the book.
  10. The Art of Papercraft is my new book that will be published by Storey Books in February 2022! It features projects by several of the artists mentioned on this list.

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One-Sheet Wonders. This is the premise of my new book. The Art of Papercraft, which shares all the things that you can make with a sheet of paper (well not all of them)! Here are 10; you’ll find more in the book, and if you happen to have a one-sheet wonder to share, would you kindly tell us about it? I’ll be sharing more one-sheet wonders on this blog in 2022.

  1.  There are many, many one-sheet wonders that you probably made as a kid, like a paper airplane.
  2. Check out Kelli Anderson’s Halloween rendition of the Muira-ori fold, a fold that has many applications, including retractable solar panels used in satellites and space probes.
  3.  Polly Verity folds paper, and how!
  4. This Light up Whirlybird by Chibitronics, a company at the forefront of paper electronics, is sure to bring delight to all ages. Try it with the kiddos!
  5. Here’s a flexagon I made, and the structure is incredible: you can literally turn a sheet of paper inside out and watch the imagery transform.
  6. Poet Carl Adamshick wrote a lovely piece to adorn my own one-sheet wonder/artist’s book, Cosmology: double-couching, pulp stenciling, laser cutting and letterpress printing all on one sheet!
  7. Check out this history of curved origami sculpture by Erik and Martin Demaine.
  8. These circular fan folds by Paul Jackson are amazing!
  9. Michael LaFosse runs Origamido Studio, where he makes handmade paper for his origami (as well as for others). He has been folding paper since he was a kid, has written many origami books, and his one-sheet squirrel was cast larger-than-life in bronze for Origami in the Garden by Kevin Box Studio.
  10. Physicist and origami expert Robert J. Lang has elevated humble sheets of paper in so many ways!

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Artists / Designers /Tinkerers: I once thought I might run out of people to feature on the blog, but I’m convinced that this is a never-ending list. Enjoy these 10 and I’ll introduce you to 10 more in 2022. 

  1. Josef Albers and his folded paper exercises have inspired many, both before and after computers.
  2. Rabbit hole warning: this article about kites in the New York Times is fascinating, touching on history (kite flying used on military missions) and kite art. Scott Skinner co-founded a kite foundation in Seattle to elevate (no pun intended) kite making beyond the toy level. Let’s go fly a kite!
  3. I’m a big fan of the work of Matt Shlian, who produces affordable paper multiples in a series called Eight Emperors.
  4. Take a look at the work students made in Kelli Andersons Paper Engineering class at Cooper Union. This was her summer class (I took her fall class and will post our video once it is ready). Have you seen her book: This Book is a Planetarium?
  5. I interviewed Paula Beardell Krieg on Paper Talk. She loves to explore the internal structure of books, including the patterns of folds, the sewing and knotting of bindings, and how everything fits together. She shares generously on her blog.
  6. Don Farnsworth of Magnolia Editions has been providing artists with technical expertise and access to large-scale, pigment-based electronic printing processes and innovative papermaking techniques with state-of-the-art tools since the 70s. His website is a fantastic resource.
  7. I love this! Andy Marks shows us (literally) how to reuse instead of recycle. The Marks family used six bags 569 times before they became the centerpiece of his piece, We All Speak for the Trees.
  8. The Museum of Modern Art sells pop-up cards designed by some of the finest paper engineers of our time.
  9. I met Ed Hutchins early in my career and recall fondly a day spent with him transforming a stack of 8-1/2″ x 11″ sheets of paper into numerous book forms. Get a glimpse into his thought process in this delightful video about how he created his recent publication, Cacophony.
  10. Paul Johnson‘s innovative artist’s books and teaching are inspirational! This site is a bit out of date, but you will discover his books about teaching pop-ups and his delightful and colorful movable books.

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Tutorials: There are endless possibilities for what you can make from/with/of/on paper. Here are just a few ideas.

  1. This Pop-up snowflake card is one of my most popular all-time posts. Let it snow!
  2. Ann Martin, of the All Things Paper blog featured this tutorial for an attention-grabbing quilled necklace that’s bound to receive compliments and only requires two types of quilled coils. And it’s stunning!
  3. Paula Krieg taught a group how to make this Folded Folly Flexagon at the Museum of Mathematics recently. Ooh la la!
  4. This tutorial by Erin Fletcher for the Top Secret Belgian Binding (do you know why it’s considered a secret?) is designed for any skill level.
  5. Here’s a crash course in basic papermaking that I put together for Artsy a few years back.
  6. Ali Manning, who runs the Handmade Book Club, offers this free long stitch journal class (and so much more).
  7. Make this Pop-Up Lantern with me.
  8. We created this Woven Paper Valentine at one of my free Zoom events.
  9. A student turned me onto this book structure from Australia that is easy to make and so versatile! This post is from Alisa Golden’s blog, and if you don’t know about her book, Making Handmade Books, you should!
  10. PaperPaul celebrated a milestone with this pop-up hot air balloon tutorial that has beautiful curves and looks like it really inflates!

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Inspiring Projects: It is truly amazing to witness the ideas that people come up with to contemplate what is happening in our world and to make it a better place via paper.

  1. There is so much to love about the Hearts for the World project, started by Linda Mihara, who owns Paper Tree in San Fransisco. Her mission – counter HATE with LOVE by collecting 1,000 Origami Hearts as a show of support to families of Asian American & Pacific Islanders who lost loved ones – received an overwhelming response.
  2.  I participated in #amonthinpaper in 2021, and it is taking place again this month (January 2022) on Instagram. It is powerful to share your work. If you’re on Instagram, join the fun!
  3. Debra Collins recently shared her Zooming Church series in my Facebook group The Paper Studio. As with so many things during the pandemic, she ended up attending church online and had some revelations. She notes: “those Zoom “boxes” pulled me away from the liturgy, yet opened up another sermon, or maybe, a prayer.”
  4. Berk Armagan, a 26-year-old artist from Istanbul, Turkey draws the sites around the world that he visits on simple paper coffee cups to fund his globetrotting passion.
  5. When Covid-19 began, Chicago printmaker Beth Adler began making daily collages as a way to work through what she was going through.
  6. Check out this profile of Faith Bartley and the People’s Paper Coop, a Philadelphia organization that is turning shredded criminal records into sheets of handmade paper while helping women who come out of prison get back on their feet.
  7. I love Myriam Dion’s papercuts from humble newspapers.
  8. Jonathan Michael Castillo created these cyanotype prints of Julia on handmade paper with $80K of shredded US currency, the amount of Julia’s student loan debt.
  9. Oh, my goodness! Check out Caroline Gormley’s pandemic-inspired paintings – a year’s worth – on a roll of toilet paper!
  10. Peter Dahmen, a paper engineer based in Germany, collaborated with Iggesund Paperboard a couple of years back to create a holiday card, Letters from the Sky.

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Videos: If a picture is worth a thousand words, what does that make a video worth? Here are 10 videos in a variety of formats that I think are valuable to watch.

  1. Here’s a fantastic demonstration of Paste Paper and Orizome Paper Decoration Techniqueswith a little bit of history thrown in, thanks to the Watson Library at the Metropolitan Museum of Art!
  2. Have you seen the Origami Revolution Documentary?
  3. Maro Vanderou works with specialty papers to show off her palladium prints, commissioning custom papers to explore impermanence and fragility through images, letterforms, and materials. Scroll down to the link on her web page to view this video of her book, Persephone’s Chamber.
  4. Travel and living in another culture often makes you appreciate where you come from. Japanese craftsman Kotaro Nishibori is continuing the 1200-year-old paper umbrella (Wagasa) making tradition. The bamboo, the paper, the tapioca starch, oh my!
  5. This New York Times feature on collage and cubism is what digital media was made for!
  6. The Bainbridge Island Museum of Art’s new video series, Artist’s Books Unshelved, features artist’s books from the Cynthia Sears Collection.
  7. Paper + Stick is an intriguing film about the work of Ron Resch, an artist, computer scientist, and applied geometrist revered for his work involving folding paper, origami tessellations and 3D polyhedrons in the 60s and 70s.
  8. I have a fascination with the Japanese chochin paper lantern structure, which has been used to make everything from shop signage to balloon bombs (profiled in the film On Paper Wings, by Ilana Sol), so it was so fun to see this variation used for socially distanced dining in Tokyo.
  9. I saw the title of the film, Paper & Glue, in The New Yorker Magazine and got curious. Lo and behold, it is a documentary about the artist JR. Paper and glue are the basis of his graffiti, and his giant murals engage with art in public, especially among marginalized communities.
  10. James Lake creates lifelike human sculptures from cardboard.

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Tools: Since I make paper, I’ve divided this list between papermaking tools and tools for working with readymade papers.

  1. Oblation Papers & Press is an incredible paper shop (that warrants another category, maybe next year) based in Portland, Oregon, that sells a Handmade Paper Making Kit (a great starter set ) which is bundled with my book The Papermaker’s Companion and DVD, The Papermaker’s Studio Guide.
  2. In order to make paper, you need a vat. It gets tricky when you want to make large sheets. I just discovered this large papermaking vat; if you prefer to source your own, my go-to vats are the cement mixing tubs that you can find at building supply stores.
  3. This is a popular post about pressing and presses on my blog.
  4. One of my most popular blog posts is about making a drying box for hand papermaking. I’ve even heard from printmakers, who have built this type of drying system to dry their prints. I decided to make this video to show how it works. You’ll find links to more drying system and paper drying resources underneath the video on YouTube.
  5. Water is the main ingredient in papermaking. I use this firehose-style nozzle in my studio.
  6. There are so many Exacto knives to choose from, but I always come back to the standard #11 blade. Did you know that you can sharpen those blades?
  7. Shanna Leino’s hand tools are to die for, both in terms of functionality and in their aesthetic appeal.
  8. I love using transparent rulers for perfect alignment.
  9. Punch a hole anywhere with this Japanese screw punch (bits sold separately).
  10. This is my go-to glue applicator, and it’s refillable!

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About Helen Hiebert Studio: My interest in how things are made (from paper) keep me up to date on current paper trends, which I write about weekly on this blog. I also host the podcast Paper Talk, featuring artists and professionals who are working in the field of hand papermaking and paper art.

Discover my most popular papermaking and papercraft resources – including information about tools and supplies, how-to videos, and paper tips – all in one place by joining The Paper Advisor (it’s FREE)! You are also welcome to join my free facebook group, The Paper Studio, where we share what we’re making with paper on Flaunt it Fridays!

I run The Paper Year, an online membership program, where we explore creative paper techniques each month in a supportive community. I’m also the author of six books about paper crafts and papermaking, and I offer an annual paper retreat and host two papermaking master classes in my Red Cliff, Colorado studio each summer and fall.

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25 Comments

  1. Craig Fansler says:

    Thanks so much for this incredible list! I’m amazed and can’t wait to explore.

  2. Gouri Krishna says:

    I would put you, Helen, on every one of those lists, for providing us with everything we need as we aspire to paper artisanship! You are truly inspiring, and thanks for telling us about all the other artists as well.

  3. Linda Florio says:

    Dear Helen, Happy New Year! and thanks so much for compiling this long list of pure inspiration!

  4. Wendy says:

    Helen. Thank you so much for this. It’s wonderful and must have taken you so long to put it all together!
    I’ll be working my way through this for some time,I can tell. 🌿📚🌿

  5. Heidi says:

    This is an incredible list and thank you so much for this amazing resource. I am having so much fun exploring all the listings.

  6. Chuck Crockford says:

    Hi, Helen! Gosh, what a fantastic list–it contains enough information to keep me going until the next list comes out!
    I’d also like to mention I think it’s amazing you are able to be as productive as you obviously are, so I’ve come to the conclusion you aren’t just one person, but a committee–so many thanks to all of you for the many contributions you have made to the wonderful world of paper during 2021.
    May 2022 be filled with good things, both paperwise and otherwise–
    Chuck

    • Helen Hiebert says:

      Thank you, Chuck! I do have a couple of volunteers who are rock stars, so you’re onto me… I have a small, yet strong committee. I have to say though, that the comments and support I get from people like you keep me motivated! It takes a village.

  7. Deb Jones says:

    This list is wonderful Helen, and thanks for all the research and wonderful things you share. Here’s to more paper creating in 2022! Happy New Year.

  8. Elayne Gordon says:

    This is the most incredible list and will take all of 2022 to explore. Thanks for sharing all this wonderful info.

  9. Thank you so very much for all the time and effort to publish this.

    A very happy new year to you!

    Andrea G. Snyder

  10. Thank you so very much for all the time and effort to publish this.

    A very happyNewYear to you and your family!

    Andrea G. Snyder

  11. What a wonderful way to start 2022! Thank you Helen for this amazing source of resources. You must have spent so much time on this great list. Thanks!

  12. Terry Englehart says:

    Wow–Fabulous lists! Thanks so much for these resources, Helen–a great start to a new year! So much to discover!
    Terry

  13. Denise Stephenson says:

    What a treasure trove to begin 2022 with! Thank you, Helen. Your generosity amazes me. So pleased to be in your art circle.

  14. Melissa Rarick says:

    Helen, Thank you for the wonderfully curated list of paper picks. Every week I look forward to your blog for creative inspiration. This list will keep me busy well into the new year! I am wishing you a prosperous 2022!

  15. Helen Spielman says:

    Helen, thank you for this treasure chest! I especially love how you bring to light other artists’ and business’s work. You’re a treasure in and of yourself! Happy New Year!

  16. Mary Ann Hickey says:

    Well, I’ve gone down the rabbithole with your 100 faves. I’m going to have to stop long enough to eat and take a nap! My eyes are ready to fall out after the 3rd list! Thank you so much for all your amazingly generous sharing of information and techniques.

  17. Elisa Lanzi says:

    Thank you Helen … you embody everything paper. Next week I’ll be doing an annual talk on the history of papermaking at a college. I always mention you and Elaine Koretsky as two outstanding women of paper. Your guidance and inspiration are invaluable!

  18. Wowza! So many amazing tips, resources, tools and videos. A treasure trove! Thank you and happy new year!

  19. Meg Black says:

    This is a great resource. Thank you Helen!

  20. Pat Schwab says:

    Helen, Thank you for the lists. I will be exploring when I need inspiration. Zoe Bradley, wow, her dresses are amazing.

  21. guylaine says:

    wow!!! thank you Helen for this amazing list of resources and ideas. so much to explore.
    🙂

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