Paper in America

Paper in America

The Sunday Paper #71

Paper of the Week: Vellum

Interchangeable Ring made with vellum paper, a project in my book Playing With Paper

Interchangeable Ring made with vellum paper, a project in my book Playing With Paper

Before there was paper, vellum was a paper-like substrate made from calfskin, which was cleaned, bleached, stretched on a frame, and scraped to produce single pages for scrolls and books. Today, commercially produced vellum is made from plasticized cotton and the paper is translucent. Vellum has a stiff quality, which enables it to hold its shape when folded; it is often used for architectural drawings. In recent years, colored vellum papers and vellum with printed designs have become popular in scrapbooking and wedding invitation circles.

I used vellum to design this ring for my book Playing With Paper. You can run small sheets of vellum through your printer, and the translucent quality makes it perfect for lantern making. There are some tricks to using vellum. It reacts to water (puckers) so I use double sided tape or glue sticks when working with it. It is also fairly stiff, so there are limits to how you can fold it.

What have you made with vellum?


In the Studio:

We’re busy in the studio getting ready for my annual Red Cliff Paper Retreat. We’ll be making paper, but we’ll also work with ready-made papers. Check out these gorgeous papers that I ordered from Paper Connection International. I can’t wait to show you what we turn them into!



Museum Sponsor of the Week

Did you know that we have a papermaking museum in America? It is Atlanta, and it is a fantastic place to visit! It is open to the public, and you can view exhibitions, take workshops and discover the amazing history of paper. For those of you who know who Dard Hunter was (if you don’t, look him up!) his collection is housed in the museum.

From September 11 to November 20, 2015, the Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking presents Paper Narratives, an invitational group exhibition featuring the work of five artists: Doug Baulos, Denise Bookwalter, Kerri Cushman, Lauren Faulkenberry, and Lee Emma Running. Each artist utilizes paper as a primary ingredient to manifest their ideas. This exhibition is curated by Suzanne Sawyer. We’ll be highlighting each of the other artists in future issues of The Sunday Paper.

Doug Baulos, Black Raven Mind, 2015, dictionary pages, wire, found stand, thread, 72"x22”x 22””

Doug Baulos, Black Raven Mind, 2015, dictionary pages, wire, found stand, thread, 72″x22”x 22””

Doug Baulos is an artist, poet, and an assistant professor at The University of Alabama at Birmingham. Recently, he has been exploring the idea of linking the outside world with inner experience, seeking to create objects that merge his interests in papermaking, sculpture and the book to create wall sculptures and installations that present themselves as humble objects that open into vast, imaginative space for the viewer.

Black Raven Mind is made of shifu (spun paper thread) constructed from dictionary pages. For Baulos, these pages connect histories with bodies, the abstraction of narrative with the physicality of things. By twisting dictionary pages into “feathers” and shifting limbs, he hopes to transform and explode the text into a sculpture of our inner life. His intent is for the viewer to connect with these images by drawing on their own interests and associations. 


Here’s a fun piece of American paper history. For over 200 years Crane and Co. has been crafting high quality paper products. From Paul Revere’s engraved banknotes that helped finance the American Revolution to the national affairs of Franklin and Eleanor Roosevelt, Crane and Co. paper has kept up their hand crafted quality. This lovely video takes you behind the scenes at Crane & Company.

I discovered this web page for the University of Milwaukee Special Collections. What drew me in was the announcement about Cut/Create, an exhibition of paper cut art, but then I discovered that the collections staff puts together several fun posts each week: Staff Pick of the Week, Book/Not Book, Typography Tuesday, Fine Press Friday, Surreal Saturday and the image below comes from their Spotlight post. Do you draw in the margins of your books? 

marginalia by Pansy M. Loughlin in The Southern States of the American Union, by J.L.M. Curry (Richmond, Va.: B. F. Johnson, 1895).

Marginalia by Pansy M. Loughlin in The Southern States of the American Union, by J.L.M. Curry (Richmond, Va.: B. F. Johnson, 1895).

I wrote about Edinburgh-based artist Charles Young when he was in the midst of his Daily Paper Model Project, and he recently completed his one-a-day animated paper wonders.
These are just incredible!


This is a work on paper that is part of a series by Christopher Saucedo, which he made with milky white linen pulp at Dieu Donné Papermill in NYC. His pieces are currently on view in the New Orleans Museum of Art’s exhibition “Ten Years Gone” (referring to the 10th anniversary of Hurricane Katrina). 

A detail from Christopher Saucedo’s “Floating World Trade Center” series. Credit William Widmer for The New York Times

A detail from Christopher Saucedo’s “Floating World Trade Center” series. William Widmer for The New York Times

This is a lovely story about how Bhavna Mehta involved the community (with funds from a Creative Catalyst grant from The San Diego Foundation) in her Paper Pattern Story Project and how they in turn inspired her exhibition at the Oceanside Museum of Art in California. 


About our sponsor: The Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking is an internationally renowned resource on the history of paper and paper technology. The museum’s mission is to collect, preserve, increase and disseminate knowledge about papermaking – past, present and future. The Museum features the Dard Hunter Collection of artifacts and books on paper and hand papermaking.

Visit in person: Robert C. Williams Museum of Papermaking, 500 10th St. NW, Atlanta, GA 30332


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