Papermaking in Latvia

Papermaking in Latvia

Shortly after we moved to Colorado last summer, I received an e-mail from Latvia. I’d heard of Latvia, but I had to look at a map to pinpoint its location. Aha, just north of Lithuania, where my husband’s ancestors hail from (no, I didn’t take his name – Katauskas  – but that is another story).
Ilze Dilane wrote that she was interested in working with me. We are still working out the details to see if she can come here or I can go there as we each juggle our families and our work. Perhaps we’ll have to end up doing both, because I think each of us has the desire to travel. In the meantime, we’ve been penpals for the past 9 months, and I’m impressed with Ilze’s ambition.

Ilze Dilane

This is Ilze

A few years ago, Ilze spent time working with Beck Whitehead at the Southwest School of Art in San Antonio, Texas. Apparently, like so many of us, she got hooked!  I’m pretty sure that she is the only serious hand papermaker in Latvia.
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Ilze found and moved papermaking equipment from Sweden and set up a papermaking studio at the Pardaugava Music and Art School in Riga, Latvia, where she lives. The Cronquist Paper Studio (named after the Swede who partially donated his equipment to the school) offers papermaking classes for school-aged children, as well as life-long education classes for adults, and education for pre-school children.
After advertising her first adult workshop last year, Ilze was introduced to a manager at Antalis, a Latvian paper distributor. Long story short, Ilze worked with employees from the company, teaching them how to cut white jeans and green t-shirts into pieces and turn them into green pulp in the Peter Beater. In the end, they made 150 sheets of paper which were used as invitations for Antalis’ 20th anniversary.
Another project which Ilze spearheaded this year was with Latvia’s only producing paper factory, Ligatne.
The company set up a recycled paper collection box in a large supermarket in Riga – most of the recycled paper in Latvia is sold to other countries in Europe. In an effort to use their own paper, the company has installed recycling containers like this one in Latvian schools, offices, and other public places.

Here you see the recycling container in the background.

To celebrate the placement of this new recycling container, Ilze organized a public papermaking event.
I think the public was intrigued, and I cannot get over the colorful equipment!
P1140201I’m happy to know that papermaking is a growing art form in the Baltic, and I look forward to traveling there one day!
Do you know about papermaking in other countries around the world? Please share a bit about another corner of the earth by leaving a comment below.


  1. Linda Draper says:

    Helen; Ilze was so much fun to work with at the Picante Paper Studio here in San Antonio. She had wonderful ideas and seemed to soak up every tidbit about papermaking and book arts that she could while she was here. We’ve kept a correspondence too and I greatly admire her ambition and dedication to her work and sharing the joy of hand papermaking. I hope you two can work out a collaboration soon.

  2. Marel Kalyn says:

    I recently found Marieke de Hoop of Rotterdam, Nederland on Facebook. Having lived in Holland for 3 years total, I enjoyed seeing how much she is doing there with her studio – teaching, paper and book related events, and all the papermakers and book artists that appear on her Timeline and website. Both of which are filled with beautiful photographs of her own and others’ work, especially great close-ups of a variety of local plants they used for pulp. I recently shared her photo of vegetable papyrus from Esther’s Handmade Papers Studio, that was the most translucent I’d ever seen even more so than Fred Siegenthaler’s carrot paper that I had also posted a few months earlier. I know you will enjoy her page and site.

  3. Sara Bowen says:

    Helen, you’ll love Latvia! I have a dear friend in the USA who is Latvian and she invited me to her wedding just outside Riga back in about 1995. I guess it’s changed a lot in the almost-20-years since I was there but I bet the stunning Art Nouveau architecture, the market gardens and the wonderful people are still the same… I feel romantic about Riga still, partly because I met a wonderful man there but was married and didn’t do anything about it! Ilze sounds amazing and I am sure you’ll have a wonderful trip.