Yama Ploskonska makes paper as a means to an end, but make no mistake – he is obsessed with the papermaking process. How else to explain the stupendous projects with DIY equjpment, the stupendously ambitious printing projects with his paper as star, the patent-pending chiaroscuro watermark in his own contribution to this book, and most of all his noble efforts to develop community among papermakers.
The final point is exemplified by the 2021 Handmade Paper Swatch Swap Yearbook, which culminates a 21 year run. Yama worked hard to publicize and recruit for the project, garnering 82 papermaking artists from around the world to contribute over a hundred swatches of one or more of their papers, with descriptions of their fiber sources and recipes for preparation and formation of sheets.
The papermakers listed below hail from 19 countries, such an amazing achievement given the physical, personal presence created in each of over 100 scrapbooks, that they are worth listing: all over the USA, Japan, Italy, the UK, Portugal Denmark, France, Mexico, South Africa, Haiti, Ghana, Ecuador, Australia, Canada, Indonesia, Micronesia, Germany, Brazil, and Peru.
Each artist sent small swatches in an edition of a little over a hundred (so less than a dozen standard sheets) and Yama assembled the group’s collection into the scrapbooks. The fiber sources and techniques are as varied as the geography of the studios: Aviva W. Fontes from California collected discarded leis on a Hawaiian vacation and combined them with her morning tea bags to tinge her pulp. Alicia Canary in Massachusetts collected the highly invasive Japanese knotweed for its strong fibers. Suzi Ballenger in Rhode Island used Japanese indigo (in the banana family) to create a spectacular color in her rough-textured sheets. Julie Johnson in Oregon grew her own kozo (the traditional Asian fiber) and used okra slime as a sizing and formation aid. One of her samples was infused with tiny bits of turkey feathers! My favorite technique came from the premiere papermaking studio in the US – Amy Jacobs, Master Collaborator at Dieu Donne‘ in NYC, re-laid dark pulp on white , covered with lace, and used a fine nozzle spray to get a lacy stencil effect. Her “Ghost lace cotton” is truly unique!
Fibers used included lots of linters, the by-product of textile production that is a staple supply, and much recycling of everything from used clothing and junk mail to backyard weeds and old Brazilian bank notes. Raw fibers were cooked in lye or soda ash and usually beaten in a Hollander. Recycled stock was common, usually reduced to pulp in a blender.
Yama deserves great praise for coordinating and physically producing this marvelous scrapbook. Find him on Facebook and tell him so!