Janus Press

Paper Talk
Paper Talk
Episode #122: Claire Van Vliet

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Claire Van Vliet is a printmaker and typographer who founded Janus Press in San Diego, California in 1955. She received a MacArthur Genius Grant in 1989 and is known for her innovative use of pigmented pulp to create images in edition for books, prints and broadsides. Van Vliet has exhibited and lectured around the world, in universities and museums. Her next exhibition is Paperworks: Claire Van Vliet and will be on view at the Boston Athenaeum September 10 – December 30 2024.


I had the pleasure of meeting Van Vliet in person in 2015, when we were both in attendance at the Codex Book Fair, and she had an exhibition celebrating The Janus Press at Sixty at the San Francisco Center for the Book.

Aura, 1977, cotton paper made with denim pulp

Van Vliet’s first handmade paper project was AURA, made in 1976 at Twinrocker with Kathy and Howie Clark.

Kathryn Clark at Twinrocker 1980

Lilac Wind, 1983, poems by W.R. Johnson on a pulp painting made by Claire Van Vliet with Kathryn Clark

We talked about her pioneering work with pulp painting at Twinrocker, which eventually led to creating paper works in her own studio. She has made many editioned books, broadsides, prints and individual paperworks incorporating specially made handmade paper made in her own paper shop and collaborated primarily with Katie MacGregor, Bernie Vinzani, Amanda Degener, and Mary Lyn Nutting.

Working on Arctic Dream with Stephanie Westnedge, Amanda Degener and MaryLyn Nutting, 1992

Van Vliet developed innovative ways of binding without glue, utilizing strong strips of paper instead.​

Rise 2003 first strip binding inspired by New Zealand bookbinder Elizabeth Steiner’s Gioia II (2002) and executed by Audrey Holden. 

Her popular book, Woven & Interlocking Structures features numerous innovative binding structures and is currently available online as a free PDF.Van Vliet’s newest book is Aratus. Samples from the handmade paper covers, created by Katie MacGregor, will appear in an issue of Hand Papermaking Magazine.


You can read widely online about Van Vliet’s work by searching for her name or the name of her works.


Music featuring excerpts of Makin’ Paper folk song by Peter Thomas. Listen to the full song and find out about other paper and book arts folk songs.

Gary A. Hanson did the sound editing for this episode. He practices and refines his skills in audio production while making his own podcast I’ll Have a Beer and Talk, a show about tech news, culture, weird animal stories and of course, beer. Gary is also the Deckle in Pulp & Deckle, a Portland-based community hand papermaking studio.