Onward with Courage

Onward with Courage

The Sunday Paper #133, November 13, 2016
Paper of the Week: Ballot Paper
Have you ever thought about how much paper is used to print ballots (not to mention the multi-page voter information packets and other paraphernalia). Sometimes I wonder about things like this; I mean the cost of the paper alone for a single election must be in the $10,000’s!
I read up a bit on ballots and found a few fun facts.

  • The first use of paper ballots in America was in 1629 within the Massachusetts Bay Colony to select a pastor for the Salem Church. Paper ballots were pieces of paper marked and supplied by voters (at that date, those paper ballots must have been handmade sheets).
  • Americans who voted this past week might have voted using punch-card ballots, optically scanned paper ballots (which are generally handwritten) or computerized systems that record votes. In a few districts (mostly small and rural), voters might have filled out an old-fashioned paper ballot and put it in a box.

The title of this blog post came from artist Mel Chin, one of several who were asked to express their feelings about the election through an e-newsletter from Creative Capital, an organization that invests in artists who shape the future. I like the sentiment captured in those three words.
In the Studio:
The week flew by! I was in San Diego last weekend to lecture and teach a workshop through San Diego Book Arts. We’d have to sit down and have coffee for me to tell you about everything I did, but suffice it to say that I had a fabulous class with 17 participants! The picture below was inspired by some browsing I did in the Athenaeum in San Diego, prior to my lecture there. What I find so enchanting with libraries is that I feel like I’m on a treasure hunt when I’m in one, and I almost always make an interesting discovery. This athenaeum is a music and arts library, and they had some fantastic books about paper. I took the image below left featuring words by Josef Albers, who was instrumental in the Bauhaus movement and taught at Black Mountain College beginning in the 1930’s. The image at right shows models made by some of his students.

I didn't keep good notes! I think the page on the left is from Paper, An Elegy, by Ian Samson.

I didn’t keep good notes! I think the page on the left is from Paper, An Elegy, by Ian Samson.

Papery Tidbits

  • Do you know about Paper Talk, my podcast series ? It’s an ongoing series of interviews featuring artists and professionals who are working in the field of hand papermaking. Recent interviews feature Catherine Nash, Tim Barrett, Andrea Peterson, and Mary Hark. Subscribe to Paper Talk on iTunes.
  • Often, when I travel to lecture, the person who introduces me mentions a fun fact from these 10 Tidbits that you can read on my About page. Have you seen the papermaking episode on Sesame Street?
  • If you still need a 2017 calendar and enjoy paper crafts (or know someone who does) why not order a copy of the Twelve Months of Paper calendar.

Whoa, there’s a lot happening in Washington D.C. right now, including several shows featuring paper. I was so happy to discover this overview of them, and the work of Giang Dinh is new to me and so elegant!

Giang Dinh’s “Figure #1,” on view in “Stories in Paper” at the Japan Information and Culture Center. (Giang Dinh/Japan Information and Culture Center)

Giang Dinh’s “Figure #1,” on view in “Stories in Paper” at the Japan Information and Culture Center. (Giang Dinh/Japan Information and Culture Center)

Is the artwork for these royal mail Christmas stamps computer generated or crafted from paper? They are pretty cool either way!
Here’s a great animated paper promo piece for the album Sommarfågel by Wintergatan. The music is great, too!

I really dig this work – Unprinted Material – by Nendo. What do you think? Literally speaking, this has absolutely nothing to do with paper; but visually speaking, it has everything to do with it! Make sure you click through to watch the video.
There are several PAPER SALES going on this weekend and next:
This Weekend: Hook Pottery Paper‘s 19th Annual Fall Sale, LaPorte, Indiana: November 11 –  13
Next Weekend: The Japanese Paper Place Washi Artists’ Sale, Toronto, Canada: November 19
And darn! This Annual Paper Connection International sale ended yesterday, but make sure you visit them on-line! They are a proud sponsor of the Twelve Months of Paper calendar.

Sunday Paper Click

If you read this blog regularly, would you consider making a donation to support the research, writing, design and delivery of The Sunday Paper? Click on the paper button at the left (I made that paper) to see how you can provide support.
And if you run a paper-related business, you might be interested in promoting your business in The Sunday Paper.
Thanks again to those of you who have pledged your support, and enjoy your Sunday!


  1. Let me know when we can meet or schedule a phone call to discuss my participation in the Sunday Paper

  2. Once while I was on a press check in China, I visited a printing plant that was dust free. To enter we had to go through an air blast chamber to blow off all the particles on our bodies. Then we had to wear booties and tyvek suits to enter the plant. A host of elder women mopped the floors constantly, and it was a spotless place. I asked if I could photograph the printing rooms and the offical gave me permission. Entering one room where “specialized” BALLOT printing was going on, I looked at one of the ballots and they were for an African country. “Why would Africans print in China?” I thought. Africa has a substantial printing industry of their own? When the officials saw me photographing in that particular SECRET room, they took my camera and deleted all of the photos from that area. They said, “What if we printed American ballots? Think of the power we would have?” That comment always baffled me and I wondered if something was embedded in the paper, that contained high technology to throw elections? Like the embedded information in our new $100 bill, it would be easy to use electronic triggers in the paper that would override any surface marks. Just a paranoid thought or a reality, who knows?