Tag Archives: John Dancy-Jones

Papermaking Workshops

Learn how to make paper at home in one session! Following a brief history of hand-laid papermaking and its techniques, you will make a dozen sheets or more. Session tailored to your interests. Kids 6 and up welcome!

students pulp painting with basters

Hand-laid Recycled Paper

The Paper Plant makes utilitarian printmaking paper for small press publishing. The paper is half cotton, half high-quality scrap. Natural fibers such as yucca, flax and okra are pounded and used as strengthening additives. We ferment and grind recycled fabrics and also use decorative inclusions such as dried flower petals, threads and confetti.

teaching display

One-time intro, future production sessions same price.

After exploring papermaking around the world and seeing how our studio works, you will have at least 6 different pulps available for plain sheets or pulp painting. Production sessions may require trade or fee for supplies.

hand-laid white sheet in studio

2 1/2 hour session: $30 (3 or 4 people, $25 each)

John Dancy-Jones, instructor, has been making paper since 1977. He publishes chapbooks, broadsides, and bookmark quotes as The Paper Plant, which operated as a bookstore, gallery and book arts center in downtown Raleigh, NC from 1982-1990. The Paper Plant won the Southern Book Awards prize for alternative publishing in 1987. John has taught workshops in schools and colleges, and at every age level, often assisting working artists in their exploration of papermaking.

Contact us to tour the studios or schedule a workshop:

Phone: 919-618-6883

| Email: paperplantpress@yahoo.com | Web: paperplantpress.com

Screenprinting Again After 30 Years

Meander prints

Screenprinting is easy and my kind of slightly crude; it was the first printing process I used on my hand-laid papers in Greensboro in 1977-78. The last screenprint I did was in 1983, when GG and I screened an image for some anti-war group she was part of.  Now I have screenprinted a souvenir to hand out at the Black Mountain College conference in Asheville.  The theme of the conference is craft, and my image is a detail from Anni Albers’ fabric artwork entitled Red Meander.  Her work,in turn, is based on an ancient motif that appears on early pottery around the world.

after Red Meander by Anni Albers.  silkscreen on hand-laid paper.

after Red Meander by Anni Albers. silkscreen on hand-laid paper.

To make this, I blew up the original image (from the book  Red Brick, Black Mountain, White Clay, by Christopher Benfey) until the lines were about an inch thick.  then I darkened the dark areas and taped the image to the underside of a silkscreen.  I cut roughly one inch strips of masking tape and filled in the dark areas I saw through the screen with lines of the tape.  All this flipped and reversed the areas of print, but with the meander, that doesn’t really matter!

Meander screenand inks

I picked up some red screen printing ink at Askew-Taylor’s and added a little aquamarine and yellow to get the brick red I wanted. I had whipped out 50 extra sheets of our hand-laid 6×9 card stock over the weekend. Laying the sheet on a registered spot (with a new scrap larger sheet under each lay), I then set the corners of the silkscreen on register corners and lay it on the paper.  Spooning a generous dose of ink along the top line, I pulled my blade tool over the screen, running the print (which was slightly larger than my sheet) to the edge of the paper.  Lift, separate, and lay to dry.  There is a letterpress credit on back done with our small brass stamper.

Meander page ready to print

Meander screen printing

I look forward to more screen printing as my new schedule allows for some projects like this one.  And three cheers for Black Mountain College and the amazing presence it continues to have in the arts of our land!

pulling a Meander


The Broken Swan’s Neck: a new novel by David Kelly

The Broken Swan’s Neck.  David J. Kelly.  2013.  Peloria Press.


Boy meets girl under nearly ideal circumstances.  The catch in this Southern love tale is a remarkable haunting.  What is remarkable is the strength and humanity of the main ghost, a grief stricken architect who is literally channeled by our architect protagonist.  The ghost, teasingly revealed in ever more fully realized form, is human enough to be convincing in the fiction, and surprising enough to remain slightly spooky.  This ghost story has some of the fine character analysis you would expect in a Henry James story, but also injects you into a strongly practical and contemporary world that captures your empathy.  The close identification serves to make the truly convincing ghost story all the more powerful in raising your hackles.  Before we meet the dead architect, we see his ill fated wife appear to the new owner of a historical Southern residence.  Miller, who has purchased the house not least in order to come to terms with his own architectural vision, is joined effortlessly and smoothly by Alicia, whose appearance in his life is nearly as implausible as the ghosts that start appearing to both of them.  Miller and Alicia use their shared visions to build a relationship, while solving the problem of the ghosts.

The history and motivations of the ghosts serve as a perfect foil both to the real life romance and to the crisis in vision Miller experiences with his work.  The male ghost makes physical alterations in his drawings and forces him to be braver in his projections of style.  The female ghost serves as the catalyst and eventually the emotional vortex that threatens the new relationship.  Even a hard headed cynic who thinks the ghosts are in the characters’ heads will appreciate the wonderful weavings of risk and reward that face Miller and Alicia. In the disbeliever’s interpretation, Miller works out his creative angst with a Doppelganger architect whose taste in style reflects and surpasses his own.  Alicia comes to terms with her classic Southern femininity by seeing it projected into the past doomed romance.  The story falls pat, but what of the ghosts?  The resolution is rich and nuanced.

The Broken Swan’s Neck presents a strongly believable contemporary setting.  Southern cities are really just big towns, and the old neighborhoods are enclaves of that town atmosphere.  This book puts you there, then melds old and new into a seamless story of both.  The numerous accurate and dryly witty local references are a delicious treat for any old Raleighites still out there.  The lasting impression of the book is the genuine plausibility of the slowly revealed ghostly presences, and Miller’s quiet conversion from doubter to believer.  This reader found himself growing to the idea of ghosts as Miller does.  Certainly they work very well in this story.  And in this day and age of ghoulish media excess, these ghosts aren’t creepy at all – just sad.  Maybe that’s the way they really are.

David J. Kelly is a Raleigh writer and publisher.    The Broken Swan’s Neck is available at Peloria Press.

Mark the New Year with a Good Book!

library entranceway

John Dancy-Jones had the honor of providing the lobby display this month for Cameron Village Library, showing his large collection of bookmarks.

bookmark display

These bookmarks were collected over a lifetime of book gathering, both personally and as bookseller in downtown Raleigh for ten years. Many famous bookstores and authors are represented, but you can find unusual objects that served as bookmarks as well.  Some seem to tell a story.  There are miniature books on display as well.

bookmarks and minature books

Children's side of bookmark display

Children’s side of bookmark display

book beautifulMany of the bookmarks cherish or celebrate reading and books.

statue and bookmarks

Mark the new Year with a Good Book!

Mark the new Year with a Good Book!

New line – mini collage books

These little books have 10 same-sided sheets inside – 40 pages!  these collage covers are by John (larger book covers are done by Cara) Enjoy!

(click to enlarge)

These books are available for $15 plus shipping.  Order here.  Or catch us at the Boylan Artswalk Dec 2nd.

Our blank books at Etsy

See all blank book posts.

The Suicide of Hooker Van Dusen

Hooker Van Dusen.  John Dancy-Jones.  Illustrated by David Larson. 1985.  40 pp perfect bound chapbook.  $5.00    order


Performance Poems

28 pp foldout chapbook with hand-laid letterpress cover.  $5.00.

order from Amazon

   John Dancy-Jones is a teacher, writer, and small press publisher who has presented his poetry in various venues since his seven year stint as facilitator and emcee for an open mike series that took place in downtown Raleigh from 1983-1990.

Snapper, My Life with Snapping Turtles

Snapper, My Life with Snapping Turtles.  John Dancy-Jones. 2001.  OUT OF PRINT

  Snapper cards and prints available below.

Snapper card and envelope

Linoleum print on hand-laid paper with deckle envelope. $4.00 @. 

Baby Snapper.  Mixed ink single linoleum print on hand-laid paper.  $8.00

Garden Snapper

Garden Snapper.  Mixed ink single linoleum print on hand-laid paper.  $8.00

available at the Paper Plant website.  order

Snapper, My Life with Snapping Turtles
Written, illustrated, and physically produced by Paper Plant editor John Dancy-Jones

Snapper is an essay on snapping turtles in captivity, expressed in words and images. It is also the culmination of twenty five years of book arts and alternative publishing. The ten linoleum block prints are executed on handlaid recycled paper made with an English laid mould and comprising six different pulps. With just under a thousand words of text set in 18 point Palatino and 24 point Schoolbook, letterpress printed on twelve sheets of handlaid paper, and Japanese side-bound with linen thread, the chapbook itself becomes a work of art that serves to complement its content.

ISBN 0-929170-15-6 $45.00

 Snapper Soundbites

 You continue to amaze with your lovely papermaking projects. Snapper is a highly personal but still widely educational chapbook.
Fred Chappell
N.C. Poet Laureate

 It’s a beautiful thing, a great cover, a wonderful text, and handsome throughout. It reminds me, in its straightforwardness, of the recently published Wild Fruits of Henry David Thoreau.
Denis Wood
author of The Power of Maps


My Fifty Top Influential Books

In rough chronological order of their influence on me.  Most pictured above.

The Thinking Machine.  Jaques Futrelle.

Adrift In a Boneyard.  Robert Lewis Taylor.

The Lion’s Paw.  Robb White.

Fire-Hunter. Jim Kjelgaard.

Chessman of Mars.  E.R. Burroughs.

The Time Machine.  H.G. Wells.

The Great Imposter.  Robert Crichton.

Birdman of Alcatraz.  Thomas E. Gaddis.

Mulata. Miguel Angel Asturias.

The Pearl.  John Steinbeck.

The Jungle. Upton Sinclair.

Brave New World.  Aldous Huxley.

Darkness At Noon.  Arthur Koestler.

Steppenwolf and Siddhartha.  Herman Hesse.

Letters From Earth.  Mark Twain.

Hiroshima.  John Hershey.

Death Be Not Proud.  John Hershey.

The Tolkien Reader.  JRR Tolkien

The War with the Newts. Karel Capek.

Grendel.  John Gardner.

The Odyssey. Homer (Robert Fitzgerald).

The Aeneid of Virgil.  Allen Mandelbaum.

Premier Book of Major Poets.  Anita Dore.

King James Bible.

Funeral Rites.  Jean Genet.

Nausea.  Jean Paul Sartre.

The Web and the Rock.  Thomas Wolfe.

Gandhi: His Life and Message for the World.  Louis Fischer.

Middlemarch.  George Eliot.

Hard Living On Clay Street.  Joseph T. Howell.

Hitler: a Study in Tyranny.  Alan Bullock.

The Viking Portable Neitzsche.

Does It Matter.  Alan Watts.

Be Here Now.  Ram Dass.

The Cost of Discipleship.  Dietrich Bonhoeffer.


Report From Iron Mountain on the Possibility and Desirability of Peace. Anonymous

Steps to an Ecology of the Mind.  Gregory Bateson.

Poetic Meter and Poetic Form.  Paul Fussell.

The Rhetoric of Fiction.  Wayne C. Booth.

On Poetry and Style.  Aristotle.

Critics and Criticism.  R.S. Crane.

Caleb, My Son.  Lucy Daniels.

Waiting For Godot.  Samuel Beckett.

Nadya.  Andre Breton.

Orlando.  Virginia Woolf.

Midquest.  Fred Chappell.

The Woman at the Washington Zoo.  Randall Jarrell.

The Collected Works of billy the Kid.  Michael Ondaatje.

The Journal of Albion Moonlight.  Kenneth Patchen.


honorable mentions:  Treasure Island,  Tolkien’s Trilogy, A Book of Heroes by Heiderstadt,  God’s Little Acre by Caldwell, Catcher in the Rye, Nigger by Dick Gregory, All the King’s Men, Call It Sleep by Henry Roth, Chaim Potok’s The Chosen.

Please do leave a comment.  If you have a list, I’d love to see it!

John Dancy-Jones

paperplantpress AT yahoo.com

John Dancy-Jones Book Arts Biography

contact John at paperplantpress@yahoo.com


Having developed a large book collection and an intense interest in books, I went to work at UNC-G’s Jackson Library in 1977.  As adminstrative assistant my time was flexible, my activities highly varied.  I gravitated to the Special Collections Department, headed by Emmy Mills, and became friends with Charles Adams, Library Director Emeritus.  Dr. Adams taught me how to use the Washington Press owned by the department and encouraged my early papermaking experiments.  By the end of 1977, I was producing good quality recycled papers and had ordered my first press – a versatile flatbed with high and low block positions, a type chaise, and a forgiving hard rubber roller.

My papermaking developed out of a backyard project with my first wife, Nora.  we used screens from her silk screen course and dried the sheets right on the screens.  I was immediately captivated by the possibilities. Early on, most of my paper was board or glass dried – essentially an Asian technique.  I contacted numerous paper mills in North Carolina, sending them samples of my paper and inviting input.  Several answered back and sent large samples or scraps of various felt materials. I obtained lye and worked with some natural materials, but settled on developing a process for making utilitarian printmaking paper out of high quality scrap.I began ordering cotton linters, building equipment, and building up stock. I bought a laid mould from Bartram & Green in England for 35 pounds.   About this time, I ordered fonts of 10 and 18 point type – Palatino, Stemple type from Germany (ordered from NYC).  I prepared to do some serious letterpress projects.

In 1980, I left Greensboro and Jackson Library to return to Raleigh and get into the bookstore business. I managed one for two years, then bought their shelves when they closed and opened The Paper Plant in downtown Raleigh, NC in 1982.  Used books in the front, papermaking and letterpress in the back. Over nearly nine years, The Paper Plant became an unofficial book arts center and a home for Raleigh’s alternative arts as well. Early in its history, I picked up a Kelsey 3×5 letterpress from a local print shop who had used it with a tiny mechanical matrix to print numbers and emboss serration on to football tickets!  Once The Paper Plant was established as a community resource, the studio gained a wide variety of press equipment and type.

Starting in 1983, I edited and published a series of broadsides, folders, and chapbooks, mostly involving the local writers emerging in our open mike series.  After The Paper Plant bookstore clsoed in 1990, I established residential studios for most (but not all) of the book arts equipment I had amassed.  In 2001, I culminated my use of those studios with the production of Snapper, a book physically produced by the author.

author’s personal bio

my book arts display at Cameron Village Library