Papermaker Spotlight: What’s to Come in the World of Cave Paper

In 1994 under the earth of Minneapolis, in the basement that houses Cave Paper, Amanda Degener and Brigette O’Malley set off on a journey to develop some of the book making world’s most cherished papers. Now, nearly 25 years later, Amanda shares some stories and anecdotes about Cave Paper and leads us into the new phase of the company–transforming it into a worker-owned coop. Here is my interview with Amanda. For information about how you can help Cave Paper transition into a coop click here.

HIROMI PAPER: What is the strangest or most unique usage of Cave papers that you have encountered?

AMANDA DEGENER: Perhaps the most unique usage of Cave paper was making one sheet of 15 meter by 15 meter (that’s 50 foot square) paper for an origami artist in Switzerland. Sipho Mobono wanted to make a life-size elephant and he needed a sheet with foldability and strength which Cave knew Belgian flax would deliver. In order to achieve a truly strong paper it is necessary to press the freshly made wet paper, simply air drying the 50’ paper would not work. It seemed impossible to press such a huge piece of paper so we embedded over 2000 sheets of 18” x 24” paper into the unpressed poured pulp. In a warehouse we laid out plastic window screening material and poured pulp to create the first layer. Freshly made, but not dry, 18” x 24” paper covered that bottom pulp layer, then another layer of pulp was poured over the top of the pressed paper.  When it was dry this three-layered sheet became one. The final project used 300 pounds of fiber and was completed over the Christmas Holiday by Cave staff and many many volunteers. It takes a village.

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Elephant by origami artist Sipho Mabona (pic: Design Boom)

For geek papermakers here is another little tidbit. The freshly made pressed (but not dried) papers were going to need to overlap onto that first poured layer. Because the final paper was going to be folded we were concerned about the double thickness when overlapping the pressed sheets. So each of the 2000 papers that were embedded were actually double dipped and double couched; we couched 17″ x 23″ sheets in the center of 18″ x 24″ sheets. Thus allowing us to carefully overlap the sheets into the bottom poured pulp so their overlap created one sheet thickness and still provided the strength needed for folding.

HP:  Do you find that the seasons or the weather have a bearing on the production of Cavepapers? For instance, can rainy days and humid air lend themselves better to dying Indigo Layered and Night?

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Cave Paper staff making sheets that will later be dyed in unique styles (pic: Cave Paper)

AD: Certainly weather, seasons, sunlight all effect the final paper. The indigo vat is very effected by temperature and weather, there is far too much to write about that here alone could spend a whole book on the chemistry of indigo and dyes. For 23 years Cave Paper was in an unheated space. Minnesota has a cold climate for about five months of the year. The cold keeps microbes from growing in the fiber, fresher fiber makes fresher looking paper. More importantly is that the weather affects the attitude of the papermakers and shows directly in the paper. By March we are tired of winter and sometimes this grumpy-ness shows in the paper. In April the papermakers, and thus the paper, bounces with the joy of Spring. 

HP: How much of developing papers, creating custom orders, or just tweaking recipes to meet user needs, requires play and how much is science? 

AD: As a female growing up in the 70’s I was told girls did not study science or become scientists but through hand papermaking it wormed its way into my life. My educated guesses are rooted in science but really all of life is play. I play with water and fiber, play in the garden, play Tai Chi. I don’t see much of a difference between art and science except scientists have a more socially accepted career and also make more money. There are certain recipes or tricks that have worked for other artists that we follow, but in the end, each paper will be different than the last, and adjustments must be made. A science lab is like a art studio; there is an atmosphere of planned experimentation. 

HP: Cavepapers is now transitioning into a worker owned Coop and will move into a new location. I’ve attached the link to the Indiegogo campaign and information about it above and here. But for those new to Cavepapers or are just hearing of this change, can you talk a little bit about the impetus for the change as well as some of the long term goals for Cavepapers?

AD: The story of why Cave Paper has to change is very straightforward and clear. My business partner Bridget O’Malley became disabled and I am trying to retire. Long term goals are just hand it over to the young people and see what they do with it. We have had many interns who are interested in a space and place to work beyond just completing an internship with us. Evolving into a Coop allows for new ideas and people to be involved. 

HP: How will the availability of Cavepapers be affected by the change?

AD: We currently work very hard to keep the current inventory on the shelves. When more people get involved as worker owners they have their own ideas and add these onto to what Cave already does. The guaranteed income from our current client base will keep the coop financially solvent. There will be some start up costs but not as many as beginning a new business. This transition into a Coop will allow our current inventory to flourish as well as make room for more growth.

HP: Cavepapers has an internship program, how can someone apply to the program?

AD: There is a description on our website about the internships. We have never had a formal application. Anyone who wants to come and learn has been welcome. We have had over 120 interns, ranging from printmakers to college students, from digital artists to art conservators. After completing an internship, there was no automatic path to studying papermaking more in depth at Cave. We hope the membership system in the future Coop will provide this. 

HP: Is there a dream paper that you’ve been wanting to make but for one reason or another you just haven’t been able to make?

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Students making Brown Crackle Cave paper (pic: Cave Paper)

AD: Many years ago I spent a day making a variety of crackle sheets using many colors. I look at these papers from time to time and wish I could play more with this. Amazingly Joe Steko from Charnel House Papers picked the “Name That Paper” perk for our Indiegogo Campaign and is commissioning a purple crackle. I really look forward to working on that in the near future. 

I am often inspired (to the point of wanting to make) by other people’s handmade papers both from the USA and abroad. Especially the high quality Japanese papers, the patterned papers from Nepal, and many papers from China I am just recently discovering. I am impressed with the consistency of Twinrocker’s whites and off whites, University of Iowa’s case paper, The Circle’s origami paper, Mary Hark’s momigami, Rick Hungerford’s almost airbrush techniques, Helen Heibert’s skin-like paper, and Andrea Peterson’s plant based papers. There certainly won’t be enough time to explore making half the paper I dream about in what is left of my lifetime.

Best of luck in the future.

Kami to Kami: Fukui Echizen Washi Exhibition opens June 24 at JACCC

Pictured above: Ichibei Iwano, Japanese National Living Treasure and maker of the Iwano series of papers from Echizen

PRESS RELEASE

A gift passed down from the Gods, Echizen in Fukui prefecture is known for its  1,500 year old history of washi (Japanese Paper) making. Approximately 80 factories engaged in papermaking are concentrated in one small valley. The home of Echizen-washi is located in the Goka area of Echizen City from a cluster of five small villages–Oizu, Ōtaki, Iwamoto, Shinzaike, and Sadatomo. These villages are blessed with abundant spring water and surrounded by mountains. The washi of this region is distinguished by its rich variety, and includes traditional thick paper for ceremonial use, official documents, and banknotes. Washi is also made in various sizes for business cards and postcards and for drawing and painting. Echizen-washi was designated as an intangible traditional craft in 1976.

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detail of Iwano paper

Twenty artisans from the region will present their handmade paper installations, both functional and decorative, including an exquisite full-sized washi tea house. This unique exhibition will explore various utilization of washi through traditional/contemporary printmaking, lanterns, and large format washi.

Location: George J. Doizaki Gallery at Japanese American Cultural & Community Center

Opening: June 24, 2018 reception 1-3pm

Closing: July 29, 2018 reception 1-3pm

Admission: FREE

Regular Gallery Hours: Wednesday — Sunday, 12-4pm. Closed Mon, Tues, and Holidays

 

 

HPI 30th Anniversary Announcements

30th ANNIVERSARY RECEPTION AND WORKSHOP EXTRAVAGANZA!

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Example of Hiroya 355U Green

One of our visiting papermaker friends hailing from Fukui Prefecture in Japan this summer is Hiroya Yamashita who is responsible for our much-adored Hiroya series of papers. Due to price, these spectacular papers have  transitioned  into a special-order only product. Hiroyas can be ordered in batches of 100 sheets per color except for the 3 colors we currently still have available in-store. When it comes to choosing a color, the Pantone swatch book is your oyster; you can choose any color found in the Pantone swatch book. Hiroya papers are first made by hand and then a rectangle of color that covers most of the sheet of paper is screen printed onto its surface. The ink used is colorfast and will not fade, leaving a lasting impressive swath of color.

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Hashimoto’s Acrylic, paper, bamboo, wood and Dacron
48 × 83 × 8 1/4 in; 121.9 × 210.8 × 21 cm  (picture: Artsy)

One fan of the Hiroya paper includes international artist, Jacob Hashimoto. Hiroya paper’s colorfastness and strength are both desirable for Jacob’s projects as they can withstand both time and physical tension required for the kite structures built by Hashimoto.

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Pinwheels in a Japanese garden

Similar to kites, pinwheels catch wind to create motion and in a sort of poetic encounter, Hiroya Yamashita and fellow Echizen Washi papermakers will lead a pinwheel making workshop during our 30th anniversary reception and workshop extravaganza. This is the THIRD of the four free workshops we will have on July 28. Pinwheels were invented in the 1800s and modernized in the early part of the 20th Century, by Armenian Immigrant and toymaker Tegran M. Samour. The toys quickly made their way overseas and are now a staple of childhood fun in most countries. Don’t forget to save the date July 28, 2018 for our 30th Anniversary Reception and Workshop Extravaganza! Workshops are free and open to everyone, in addition to making pinwheels, visitors can also marble paper, and make chigiri-e pictures also led by visiting papermakers. In June we’ll reveal the last of our 4 workshops.

 

Hiromi Paper, Inc. 30th Anniversary: Chigiri-e

Our 30th Anniversary Reception and Workshop Extravaganza is fast approaching! The second of our FOUR workshop stations that we’ll reveal today is Chigiri-e. The Japanese art form of Chigiri-e is now well over 1,000 years old dating back to the Heian Period. Chigiri-e neared death in the 1800s but the creation of Tengujo/Tengucho provided a new way of approaching the method. In Japanese chigiru roughly translates to “tear” and e translates to “image”, “picture”, or “painting” thus Chigiri-e can be roughly translated as “torn picture”. More accurately though, Chigiri-e is, an image made of thin pieces of Japanese paper torn and shredded and then affixed to a stiffer surface, such as board or thick paper stock, and adhered with PVA, Funori, Fueki-kun nori, or Jin Shofu.

chigiri-eThin layers of Washi (Japanese paper) allow the artist to build depth, perspective, and value in the image. Skilled Chigiri-e artists can achieve a sophistication reminiscent of watercolor paintings, however, it can be an art form suitable for all ages–from children to older communities. All of the different kinds of Washi (Japanese papers) possess many characteristics that lend themselves well to different techniques.

IMG_1722Tengujo/Tengucho, Color Kozo, and Color Gampi, for instance, can be used to layer on color and value due to it’s highly translucent nature. It can be used to quickly and subtly cover large swaths of space with color or texture.

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Amate Swirl

 

The fibers of Kinwashi, Unryu, and Amate Swirl can be easily dissected from their surfaces to create gestures that resemble branches, stems, flower stamen, hair, etc.

While there are traditional shikishi boards used to house the Chigiri-e, any sort of paper will suffice as the base, depending on the needs and desires of the artist. Papers like our Black, White, and Natural Shikishi, Bhutan Stationery, Amate Solid, and Yucatan make excellent bases, though the latter 3 diverge a bit from tradition.

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Now available in store only is the Cavepaper Scrap Pack ($9.00) which comes filled with ends and bits of Cavepaper’s experiments and left overs, often one-of-a-kind pieces. These are helpful in adding unusual textures and patterns to your Chigiri-e.

RECAP: SGCI 2018 Altered Landscapes

2018’s Southern Graphics Council International Conference was held at Bally’s Hotel in the always effervescent Las Vegas. This year, HPI Staff Edwin and Yuki packed up a car with washi, spatulas, Fueki-Kun Nori, and papers from around the world, and put the pedal to the metal. Just a 4-hour drive from Culver City (adjacent to L.A.), Vegas was quite a delightful adventure.

The most popular item on the Las Vegas strip, during the conference, was our Feuki-kun Nori— small containers of corn starch paste that are non-toxic and good for everyday crafting. We are the first distributors of Fueki-kun in the United States. These little heads were all the buzz!

As always, attendees of the conference enjoyed free shipping on orders surpassing $20 if they were placed during the conference days.

This year Hiromi Paper, Inc. donated papers for several demos held during the conference.

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Tinkertown, a collaborative art piece created by contributions from attendees received samples of our Navy Blue Color Kozo and HP-58 Sekishu Natural.

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Tamarind Institute was spotted giving a Chine Collé demo with our HP-58 Sekishu Natural. Everyone looked on as Brandon demoed different ways to tear a silhouette of underwear. Sekishu is naturally strong and thin, perfect for Chine Collé.

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At the opposite corner, Rialuca Iancu used our Asuka 150 gsm to demo her Pop-up folded structures. The Asuka 150 is the perfect weight to create 3-dimensional structures that will not collapse when more weight is added within the pop-up cards.

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We also became friends with Hurley’s printing studio who used HM-60 Hosho Natural to print limited edition woodblocks by Sean from the Woodcut Funhouse in Lousiana.

We look forward to next year’s SGCI in Dallas, Texas. 

 

Laura Viñas revisited

 

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Lejania by Laura Viñas. Watercolor on Tengucho paper.

We’re looking back at work by Laura Viñas this month. Through her work Viñas explores the psychological reality about self-contextualization and memory. Painting Tengucho 5g and 9g papers with watercolors, Viñas transforms the seemingly delicate sheets into powerful haunting images of landscapes alluding to the Pampa region of South America– a vast expanse of low-lying flat fields that unfurl in every direction that you look towards the horizon. Viñas work asks us to look into the image on the surface of the Tengucho paper and once there to try to look past it and get lost in the illusory expanse, and to consider the space behind the paper as part of what’s directly confronting us in each painting or installation.

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In the words of the artist:

My subject matter deals with  the perception of  landscape in order to create new places.
These new places are a mental construction, and in them the object of my work is embedded: time deposits, memory and distance.
At the same time, it allows me to research into the concealed and enigmatic side of these objects.
I choose my materials with precision: thin rice papers, watercolors and photography.Furthermore, I restrict the color palette, the vanishing points, and materials in order to fully develop my creativity and concentration.
I manipulate nature and light  as an abstraction, to generate a mirror where the viewer finds himself.  –Laura Viñas’ artist statement

Take a look at more of Laura’s work here: 

Hiroko Karuno: Moro Jifu Exhibition

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May 27th – May 30th 2016

10AM – 4:30PM @ Naoya Shiga Former Residence

Address: 1237-2 Takabatakecho, Nara, Nara Prefecture 630-8301

Tel: +81 742-26-6490 Website: http://www.naragakuen.jp/sgnoy/ Continue reading “Hiroko Karuno: Moro Jifu Exhibition”

Jon Shimizu: Book project using Asuka inkjet papers

Art student Jon Shimizu shared with us his experience printing on the inkjet Asuka papers for his book project, and how much he loved working with them. Below is Jon’s artist statement. Thank you, Jon!

(We always appreciate any feedback about the papers, so please let us know!)

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Continue reading “Jon Shimizu: Book project using Asuka inkjet papers”

Artist Feature: Sal Taylor Kidd on Mohachi Paper

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Salted paper printing on Mohachi

ORIGINS – Sal Taylor Kidd

On view until May 14th

Gallery 169

169 W Channel Rd, Santa Monica, CA 90402

Originally from the UK, photographer and artist Sal Taylor Kydd has lived all over the world, before settling in Los Angeles. Formerly an editor, Sal has been developing her photography for the last six years, both as an editorial and a fine art photographer. Sal will be showing her work from her series “Just When I Thought I Had You” at Gallery 169 in Santa Monica. Check out her amazing prints done on our Mohachi paper.

“Origins” artist statement:                                                                 

Growing up in a small town in England, I had a childhood that was in many ways typical of its time. In the 1970s children led relatively unfettered lives and were free to explore the world with a large degree of independence. In my work photographing my children and family, I find myself revisiting my childhood through their experience, playing by rivers and ponds in the summer, idling the days away, discovering a real connection with nature. Every year we spend our summers on a small island off the coast of Maine. It has become a touchstone for us as a family, a place for us to connect with nature and with each other. For my children these are times of growth and exploration that are strongly tied to a sense of place, of roots and authenticity.

This series is entitled “Origins” because through these images I am attempting to understand what defines that sense of connection and understanding of where we come from, what ties us to a place and tethers us to what has come before?                                                                       

The processes I have used in this series is Salted Paper printing, in which I use a combination of antiquarian and contemporary technologies. I use a digital camera to capture my images, but then I create a physical negative from the digital file, which is then printed in a contact frame, using the same techniques pioneered by British photographer Henry Fox Talbot in the 1800s.                                                                      12806115_10153955822389948_2613101145682938713_n

With these processes, the element of time is not inconsequential, it takes time to make a print, a process that gives opportunity for discovery and serendipity. You coat your paper, you expose it to the sun, you wait. It is a contemplative and mindful undertaking. In each of the steps, from sizing the paper, to exposing the negative and developing the print, there is a tangible connection with nature and the natural elements brought into the print, which again mirrors the content of my work. The artistry of “making” a photograph becomes itself an act of becoming and invention.

 

From Japan: Keiji Oki of Mohachi Paper in Fukui

(Translated by Yuki Katayama)

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Keiji Oki is the third generation Mohachi papermaker. Mohachi is an extra heavy weight yet soft paper. It is sized internally, making the papers suitable for printmaking, painting and ink-jet printing.

Can you tell us a little about the history of Mohachi paper?

From the Edo period, the Oki mill originally made only Hosho papers. It was only from early Showa period that first generation Mohachi Oki became interested in making a Japanese watercolor paper for western painting.  The beginning of WWII prompted the development of a thick Japanese paper, since the supply at the time was all western papers that could not be imported during the war. This type of paper was invented with guidance from Mr. Hakutei Ishii (painter and print artist, one of the fathers of the sosaku hanga (creative print) movement) It was named “MO” paper, from the first two letters of Mr. Mohachi Oki.

Post-war, once the production of MO Mohachi paper normalized, the production of larger sized papers and printmaking papers began. These papers were not for mokuhanga, but for methods such as lithography, etching and silkscreen.

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 Any new papers that you’d like to try making?

I’d like to try making papers using the same materials as the Mohachi paper, but cater to new needs of artists or printmakers. That is how the largest size 31″ x 47″ Mohachi paper was developed, because there was a higher demand for larger paper for artists to use. 

What is your view on the future of washi? 

I’d like to focus on promoting the large variety of papers that Echizen has and showing the world what Echizen Washi has to offer. Also, I am still in the process of thinking of ways to keep Mohachi papers relevant and increase demand. 

Any hobbies outside of papermaking?

I like to climb mountains and run marathons in my free time. My current goal is to climb as many mountains as I can in the “100 Famous Japanese Mountains” list.

See artist feature to read about how artist Sal Taylor Kidd uses the Mohachi in her printing.