Postcard Perfect Scenes

Postcard Perfect Scenes

Flax sheets, pigmented, overdyed and gelatin sized, waiting to be re flattened in a restraint dryer; from a recent edition, 2020.

The Sunday Paper #335

October 25, 2020

Papermaker of the Week: Mary Hark

This is a new column. If you’re a papermaker and would like to be featured in the coming weeks and months, please fill out this form. I’d love to hear from you!

HARK! Handmade Paper flax sheets, pigmented, overdyed and gelatin sized, waiting to be re flattened in a restraint dryer; from a recent edition, 2020.

Mary Hark, University of Wisconsin-Madison Professor in Design Studies, is the proprietor of HARK! Handmade Paper where she produces limited editions of high quality flax and linen handmade papers in collaboration with book designers and artists, as well as unique paper artworks that have been exhibited internationally. Hark leads an initiative in Kumasi, Ghana, building the first hand papermill in West Africa capable of producing high-quality papers entirely from local botanicals. An artist committed to sustainable practice, Hark recently led a team in St. Paul, Minnesota, designing and producing 2500 beautiful handmade papers, made entirely from urban bio and textile waste, that were used as placemats for CREATE: the Community Meal public art event (Seitu Jones). Her work can be found in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Brooklyn Museum, the Smithsonian Museum of African Art, the Ginsberg Book Arts Collection in Johannesburg, South Africa, and in many university special collections. Mary Hark is regularly invited to teach workshops at premier craft schools and art centers nationally.

In the Studio: Meg Black on Paper Talk

Photo by: Kindra Clineff

I enjoyed getting to know Meg Black on Paper Talk, an artist and art historian who studies historical works of art and connects her work to the great artists who have come down to us through the ages. The subject of her work is nature and its impact on our sensory experience, and she studies how artists have recorded nature, and considers these approaches in her own designs. She doesn’t try to copy the natural world as she sees it but, rather, as she feels it. Black’s paintings and wall reliefs are made with abaca, a fiber that she is constantly discovering the potential for and is challenged by. She finds that the texture of this material provides an almost three-dimensional quality to the surface of her work, mimicking nature in all its splendor. Enjoy our conversation!


Papery Tidbits:

  • The Handmade Holiday Series begins tomorrow. Join us and create a collection of sweet and simple giftable objects.
  • The Paper Year Online 2021 is coming soon. Some of you have followed this journey for more than 5 years! It began right here on my blog, and that led to the Twelve Months of Paper Calendars in 2017, 18 and 19, followed by The Paper Year in 2020. These were all printed calendars, but I’m going back online with a monthly subscription program next year. Here’s a sneak peak of the projects.
Check out these amazing collaged installations by Clare Börsch, as seen on This is Colossal. The Berlin-based American artist sources vintage photographs from open source archives, and combines them with botanical elements she draws or photographs herself. Then she cuts and assembes them in new, sometimes bizarre, compositions.

Jungle installation commissioned by Book A Street Artist Berlin for Riem Arcaden in Munich. Photograph by the artist.

I learned about the work of Ruth Edwards this week on the Book Arts listserv, when news about her death was shared, along with some wonderful remembrances (I am sorry that our paths never crossed). I took a little trip down a rabbit hole via her wikipedia page, where I discovered one of her initiatives. Books in Black is a collective of individual African Americans and others from the African diaspora who are “ordinary people who make extraordinary books.” The collective focused on creating unique books that highlighted aspects of African American history and achievement.

Books in Black poster by R Gregory Christie, circa 2007, was used to promote the artists’ book making collective.

I love this concept (although it is hard to see in the photo). An A4 piece of paper with thousands of forward-slash characters on it from a typewriter has won the $25,000 annual Parkin Drawing Prize.

Poppy Lekner is the winner of the 2020 Parkin Drawing Prize with her piece Forward Slash, an A4 piece of paper with type-written forward slashes over and over on it.

LOL, this rumba got tangled up in TP! So much for the time-saving benefits of technology.

The New York Times recently featured the paper work of photographer Vik Muniz, who creates elaborate views of the world’s most famous tourist spots, building the details with thousands of pieces cut from postcards he collects.


Featured this week in my Studio shop:

Interluceo: Collage Packs, Try It! Shadow Lantern self-study workshop, a big box of 2019 Twelve Months of Paper Calendars for $20 (share with your art group, book club, etc.) and Papermaking with Garden Plants.


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1 Comment

  1. Hi Helen
    Just wanted to thank you so much for talking about Mary Hark in your blog. Her work is AMazing and gives me great inspiration for the work I am doing now.


    oh and Yipee for our new leader😊