gently pounded strand of kozo fiber
Kozo, the traditional Japanese paper fiber, comes from the same mulberry trees that dot our local landscapes as a mild invasive (our native red mulberry is the counterpart). My new papermaking friend, Lauren Bacchus, has been exploring fiber work with locally foraged fibers for some time. We had a sharing session and had a lot of fun with partially beaten kozo from branches we had harvested that day.
We cut the mulberry branches into manageable lengths and then cooked them in water with about a cup of my homemade “farmer’s lye.” (Water slowly run through hardwood ashes). Then we rinsed and stripped the bark off the central pith. After more soaking, we could pull off the brown outer bark and expose the white and green layers of the cambium. Lauren showed me how she takes the broader pieces of cambium and gently pounds them on a hand beater surface to spread and delineate the individual fibers without destroying the strand. She explained that some cultures take these pieces and laminate them together into sheets.
Lauren also had a neat trick of pounding little ovals out of a strand of kozo – what a great inclusion object for a paper collages! Love this technique.
sheet of partially beaten kozo
We made a few sheets with the whole partially beaten fibers. It was amazing to see that our short beating session had indeed produced enough pulped fibers to make a sheet of “real” paper with the heavy inclusion of long fibers. I was ready to make some production paper!
After more extensive beating I cut up the kozo into blender-friendly lengths and used a blender mostly full of water to beat a few chunks at a time. After adding a little potato starch, the pulp was ready.
We had a great time, I got to have a big enough fire to make some bio char in tin cans, and it was a lovely warm winter day in Baird Cove. This was a great boost for my intentions to do more natural fiber work in the new studios. Add kozo to my current list of grown or foraged fibers in the studio: okra stems, heirlom green cotton, flax, hibiscus, yucca, iron weed, thistle down, wasp nests and banana!
80 pp 8/12 x 11 stapled trade paper with hand-laid paper cover printed with block image and letterpress. $15.00 ISBN 978-0-929170-17-6
order directly here ($2 shipping)
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Also available at Quail Ridge Books and So&So Books in Raleigh
The Natural History of Raleigh contains 16 chapters and 30 illustrations that depict nature lore and potential nature adventures inside or near the Beltline. Written by Paper Plant publisher John Dancy-Jones, a Raleigh native and retired environmental educator.
selection of illustrations
Above are the first hundred sheets of ONE THOUSAND I will eventually make for the covers of my new book, The Natural History of Raleigh, which will arrive from the printer soon and be out by Mid-November 2018. The sheets are made of high quality scrap and cotton linters, with bits of dried oak leaves suspended in the pulp.
The sheets are 12 1/2 by 20 inches, formed on wove screens of medium coarse silkscreen. I use two screens for extra draining time before couching (laying off on to the wet felt) each sheet.
When I’ve got a stack of a dozen or more between felts, I slide my hands under the stack and lift it into my big press, which is framed by 4×4 lumber and powered by the lovely jack you see (another story sometime). After a good sqeeze and another later, the sheets are ready to lay on boards – or in this case, washed glass.
They dry with the pieces of dehydrated oak leaves down on the glass, which makes that outside cover surface extremely smooth and perfect for printing. Each sheets uses up a good sprinkle of oak leaves and I add pulp and fresh oak leaves between each sheet. I pick a batch of dark un-scarred leaves, sandwich them between screens in a 105 degree dehydrator for a couple of hours, then shred the pieces with my fingers. The project will require many, many pieces of oak leaves.
The Natural History of Raleigh will be published by The Paper Plant Press and includes over 30 line drawings by me, the author. I have worked on this book for over a decade and can’t wait to share it with you!
Folded cover with letterpress block for back
Cover with scored spine and polymer block for front
The finished project is HERE!
My friend Richard Butner runs a science fiction conference every summer just an hour north of me and last summer he brought a prominent up-n-coming SF writer, E. Lily Yu, to meet me and see the Paper Plant studios. She was very intrigued by the collection of wasp nests in my display of fiber materials, and I explained that the wasp was truly the first papermaker. When I investigated her online writings, I discovered the reason she was so interested in the wasp nests – her story entitled “The Cartographer Wasps and the Anarchist Bees.” I emailed her, saying I would probably make some wasp nest paper soon, and she asked me to letterpress print the first line of the story on some of it for a museum exhibit she was helping to curate.
E. Lily Yu at the Wing Luke Museum. pic by Amanda Chen
The show, at the Wing Luke Museum, is called Worlds Beyond Here, and runs through October 2019. I have already been inspired to make a different kind of hand-laid paper piece for Ms. Yu, and I am thoroughly enjoying reading her work. I’ll keep you apprised!
I created a book celebrating the 200th anniversary of Mary Shelley’s publication of Frankenstein for a show at Asheville Bookworks.
The inside has pockets with body parts exemplifying major systems.
Asheville Bookworks show info here.
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!
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.
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.
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:
| Email: firstname.lastname@example.org | Web: paperplantpress.com
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.
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!
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.
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!
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.
John Dancy-Jones had the honor of providing the lobby display this month for Cameron Village Library, showing his large collection of bookmarks.
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.
Children’s side of bookmark display
Many of the bookmarks cherish or celebrate reading and books.
Mark the new Year with a Good Book!
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.