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.
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.
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.
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!
I’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.