The Art and Art Therapy of Papermaking

The Art and Art Therapy of Papermaking

The Sunday Paper #484

November 5, 2023

I received my copy of The Art and Art Therapy of Papermaking by Drew Luan Matott and Gretchen M. Miller this week. Veterans Day is coming up, and the wars in our world are top of mind, so I turned to the last essay in the book: Papermaking and the Process of Returning Home, by Eli Wright (His organization, Frontline Paper, was featured in this post).

Wright, who served in Iraq, writes a powerful story about his personal journey as a combat medic–turned–papermaker/ instructor. Here is a short excerpt: “Traumatic experiences have a tendency of fracturing our sense of time and space… The sounds of ripping fabric and dripping water, and the feel of the wet pulp running between one’s fingers in a vat are rich sensory experiences that can counteract symptoms of anxiety and depression in many beneficial ways. I have witnessed so many veterans enter the room, practically crawling out of their skin with anxiety, or nearly catatonic with depression, yet within hours, they’re sharing stories with other participants, connecting the dots between their individual and collective experiences, sometimes crying, always laughing, and momentarily transformed back to themselves again.”

This book is filled with therapeutic stories about papermaking, community and the transformative power of making paper from cloth with history and meaning (military uniforms, hospital gowns, the clothing of loved ones). Wright ends his essay with this reflection:

“Perhaps one day we may learn to use paper solely as a medium for love letters and creative art, rather than declarations of war and suicide notes.”


How cool is this? Lego printing plates! I grew up with legos, and my son adored them as a kiddo, too. Lego Letterpress for Families will take place November 11th at the San Francisco Center for the Book. I wonder what paper they’ll be printing on?


I’m teaching how to make this Book Light on Zoom on December 2nd. Learn to fold this expandable file folder structure; attach it to two uniquely wrapped book covers; create a removable spine that holds a fairy light; slip it into pockets; and flip the switch. All levels are welcome, and if you can’t attend live, the session will be recorded. Click here to read more, watch a video of the book in action and sign up! (Paper Year All-In Plan members: I will send you a discount code for the workshop tomorrow).

As seen on Colossal.


Hand Papermaking produces a annual year-end broadside, and they are debuting the 2023 edition, “i am graffiti,” a stunning, provocative, and timely collaboration between Derick Wycherly, Leanne Betasamosake Simpson, and Rachel Melis. Order your copy today!


Paper Tidbits


In the Studio

I am excited to be partnering with the Arnold Grummer family to provide a paid internship at Helen Hiebert Studio. Alyssa Roggow will spend two weeks in the studio, starting tomorrow. She is considering graduate school, and prior to investing in another degree, she wants to see what running a papermaking studio takes – smart! Arnold Grummer’s family and Helen Hiebert Studio will provide a stipend, and I will provide personalized training geared towards enabling Alyssa to pursue a career in paper. 

Alyssa Roggow is a classical musician, writer, and multifaceted educator. As a certified Master Naturalist and a trained VTS (visual thinking strategies) facilitator, she can often be found incorporating her passions for the arts and the outdoors into interdisciplinary workshops for learners of all ages. Her writing has been published across multiple platforms, and Alyssa is a violist and avid chamber musician who performs throughout the U.S.

The internship I had early in my career was instrumental to who I’ve become as an artist, author and instructor, and it is my hope that the experience will have as much of a positive effect on others as my internship had on me. This is one way I can give back to the community that gave me my start. 

Arnold Grummer is remembered for his broad contribution to paper education. His videos, entry-level books and user-friendly paper kits continue to introduce the creative possibilities of hand papermaking to new generations. Interns have the option of completing Arnold Grummer’s Papermaking Instructor Certification as part of their internship, with credentials to teach in school and community settings.


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  1. The proudest moment in my life is when I found out about the combat paper group. I have my equipment to Drew Cameron and he came down to get it from Vermont and gave a talk I arranged in which Frontline arts. Formerly printmaking center of new Jersey came and promoted them,got grants and started the program for vets. One small time bloomed big. And thanks for all your good you tubes. Annelies

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