Edition of 25. 2019.
Box size: 12-1/2 x 9-1/2 x 1″
Book size (closed): 12″ x 9″

I’ve been fascinated with light for as long as I can recall. As a child, I always looked for rainbows, and I enjoyed trying to identify every color, from red to violet. This book explores the wonder of that interaction between color and light. As you flip through the pages, you will see 24 analogous colors (each new hue sharing some of the color of the page next to it). It’s my attempt, as a paper artist, to capture the essence of a rainbow within the pages of the book.

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Sir Isaac Newton was the first person to articulate the science of a rainbow.  In 1665, he observed that when white light passed through a triangular prism, it dispersed into seven colors: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, indigo, and violet.

A prism is a solid figure with ends that are parallel and of the same size and shape, and with sides whose opposite edges are equal and parallel. Only the triangular prism makes a ray of light change direction as it enters at an angle and separates into the color spectrum. Light also changes speed as it moves from one medium to another (i.e. from air into the glass of the prism), and this causes light of different colors to be refracted differently and to leave the prism at different angles, creating an effect similar to a rainbow.

My medium is handmade paper, and for over 25 years, I have been exploring the properties of abaca, a fiber from a non-fruit bearing banana plant. I processed the abaca fiber to create a translucent paper that resembles frosted glass. I spent a long time contemplating how to achieve a rainbow of paper and performed several color-mixing experiments. My process centered around determining how to accurately produce the spectrum by mixing pigments into wet paper pulp. After several trials, I ended up matching 24 colors on a chart that gradually change from red to orange, yellow to green, blue to indigo and finally to violet, with several colors in between each hue.

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I’m Helen Hiebert!

THE SUNDAY PAPER brings you stories and examples of people doing exciting, innovative, and beautiful things with paper, as well as link to interesting paperfacts from around the globe. Read all about it here!

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