Paper, Rope, and Paint
Unique Approaches in Mixed Media
There are many steps and stages to my art making process. I have been creating handmade wall hangings in mixed media for the past 20 years. All of the wall hangings and artwork I create are made of paint and paper. I am inspired by plant fibers, either in paper or rope form.
I made the paper myself in my studio for over twenty years. After a huge upheaval in our lives, I sold my beater and decided to use pre-made papers (most of the time…)
The papermaking process I have worked in is known as the western method of papermaking. I work with several different fibers; Abaca, Sisal, which comes from the Agave plant (a native South American plant), Cotton, and Hemp.
When I make paper, I order them preprocessed and beaten half stock, leaving me to rehydrate the fibers. I also process plant fibers from scratch, (harvesting, cooking, rinsing, and beating) to add texture and variety to my work. Examples of plants I have processed include Hosta, Rose petals, Loveage, Lily stems, and Queen Ann’s Lace.
I used a Hollander Beater (a second hand David Reina Beater purchased from artist Richard Langdell ) for 16 years. In May of 2017, I sold the beater to the John C. Campbell Folk School, in North Carolina, where I know they will put it to good use and the beloved beater will be used much more regularly than I had. In a Hollander Beater, plant fiber and water are placed in the trough of the beater and travel through the machine. A roll, similar to a gear shape, moves the water and fibers, and gently separates them as they are pressed between the roll and bedplate.
The finished pulp is dispersed in a vat of water.
Then a mold and deckle (a wooden screen), or a su (a removable bamboo screen) are used to form sheets of paper (known in the paper industry as a “wet leaf”).
While the sheets are still wet, once can embed plant fibers, dried botanicals, mirrors, and gems to create various composition.
Once the sheets are dry, paint and collage can be applied directly onto the handmade paper base. One may also add stitching and bead work.
Each wall hanging is unique piece of art and titled accordingly. I usually sit in front of the finished work, contemplate the initial inspiration, and listen to what the end product has to tell me. I often find inspiration for the titles in poetry, such as the work of T.S. Eliot, the Tao Te Ching, and in the world of myth and religion. It is my hope that the title will offer the viewer a personal connection to each work of paper art but will not limit ones own creative interpretation.
New Directions…Macrame, Watercolor & Mixed Media
Currently I enjoy exploring directions in knotted rope- called Macrame. This is beyond the fancy plant hangers and chunky jute creations of the 1970’s. Did you know Macrame is an ancient decorative art form? Originally found as decorated fringe on blankets for camels in Arabia, macrame spread throughout the world when sailors would make knotted creations while at sea and sold them at ports around the world. Today, I take fine quality organic cotton rope and tie it into intricate knots to create textural patterns for wall hangings. I may add paper, or leave it as solo rope. Its all the same medium, cotton fibers, just like the paper but in a new form. It takes hundreds of feet of rope to make a simple wall hanging. I am interested in creating meditative wall hangings that reflect the world of nature and embody the spirit deep introspection and I look forward to continuing this evolution in my art.
Watercolor and Mixed Media
I began my art journey in painting. I learned a great many wonderful techniques from my beloved high school art teacher. I lived in the art room during high school! It is where I went first thing in the morning, during lunch, and after school! I had my own corner of the room! Mr. Bennett taught us all the best techniques for painting, art theory, and art history. I attribute a great deal of my knowledge and passion to him!
In effort to greatly simplify my life, I have returned to my roots. Lately, my art making consists of watercolor painting, inspired by the beautiful natural world of Vermont in the form of flowers, mountains, trees, river, and sky. I frequently add collage and ink to thesepaintings as I enjoy rich color and textures. It is always a surprise to see where the art will take me.