Intern in the Studio!

I had the first intern in my Colorado studio last week. Daria Wilber (from Calhan, CO) contacted me in the fall after becoming interested in papermaking during a class at Arrowmont last summer with Jo Stealey. By the way, since relocating, I’ve also had queries from Latvia, Australia and North Carolina. It seems like there must be a need for this type of mentoring.

Daria in the studio

Daria in the studio


I started my career in hand papermaking as an intern at Dieu Donné Papermill back in 1992. I learned a lot from this type of hands-on experience. I learn best by seeing, doing and asking questions. When I worked at Dieu Donné, the number of hours I worked went towards studio days for me to make my own work.
Uniform, a piece I made at Dieu Donné while interning there

Uniform, a piece I made while interning at Dieu Donné Papermill


Since the year 2000, I’ve had twenty interns in my studio (19 in Portland, 1 in Colorado). My very first intern (Jenny Pinto) came all the way from India. She posted a note on the bookarts listserve with a subject line of “plant papermaking and lampshades”. A coincidence? I’d just written my first book, Papermaking With Plants, and was starting work on Paper Illuminated. Jenny spent 6 weeks with me that summer, and look what she is doing now. She brought some of her local banana fiber along, which is similar to abaca.
Chandelier by Jenny Pinto

Chandelier by Jenny Pinto made from local banana fiber


The intern who spent the longest amount of time with me was was a student from Wellesley College. She came and worked with me full-time for 10 weeks one summer! In the end, she decided that papermaking was not her thing… I always explain that papermaking is 1/3 prep, 1/3 papermaking and 1/3 clean-up… and she witnessed that first-hand for 10 weeks!
Local interns (only about 1/3 of the interns I’ve had have been local) usually come in once a week for short or long periods or have joined me in the studio to help with particular projects. Interns from afar tend to come in for 20-30 hours a week for 2-4 weeks. Some receive college credit and others just want to witness the day-to-day life of an artist. My interns have ranged in age from 19 years to 58 years old (most have been under 30) and have come from all over the US, Canada and India.
Having an intern takes a certain amount of commitment on my part. I try to include each one of them in as many daily activities of the studio, take them with me to meetings, have them help with installations, etc. I also attempt to honor their wishes, if they want to learn a particular skill, have me give them feedback on their work, etc. But in all honesty, most of their time is spent assisting me in the studio.
It is my hope that they gain skills to equip them in their various pursuits in paper! Daria just sent me these lovely words about her experience here last week: “As a mentor, you were welcoming, patient, giving and flexible. I cannot thank you enough for that. My job as an intern was to help you as much as possible while learning from you, and I learned a great deal”. I do find the give and take of hosting interns rewarding.
Have you had interns or served as an intern? Tell us about your experience by leaving a comment below.

2 comments to Intern in the Studio!

  • I haven’t had the intern experience but while at school I had the same experience as one of your interns. I took 2 semesters of weaving and really loved it, the yarns, the colors the textures, everything about it EXCEPT, planning and setting up the loom. I just knew I would never have the patience to take the time to prepare everything, yet the very first time I experienced papermaking it didn’t matter to me how long preparation and clean up would be……….it was just my medium!

Leave a Reply

You can use these HTML tags

<a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

  

  

  

Paper Talk Podcast

Listen on Apple Podcasts

Listen on Anchor.fm

Subscribe to The Sunday Paper / Get These Tutorials

image

 

Follow Me on FacebookFollow Me on PinterestFollow Me on YouTube

 

Welcome!

I’m Helen Hiebert!

THE SUNDAY PAPER brings you stories and examples of people doing exciting, innovative, and beautiful things with paper, as well as link to interesting paperfacts from around the globe. Read all about it here!

Featured Items

My How To Books

Join the Craft Industry Alliance

If you enjoy reading The Sunday Paper, please consider making a donation to support the delivery of interesting paper news to your inbox once a week.

Categories