Sunday, July 11, 2010

El Arte del Papel From My Favorite Paper Artist

The artiste prepares to screen pulp to make a sheet of paper.
Meet Cheryl Velasquez, Utah-based fellow blogger and paper artiste extraordinaire.  Cheryl's blog features gorgeous pictures of her work.  Her husband Wade, who I met when we both worked at GE, is a photographer.  Recently, I visited Cheryl at Park Silly Sunday Markets, where she was the featured artist and did a day-long demonstration of paper making.
Book of the Dead on ancient papyrus
The word paper comes from papyrus, which was made with pressed stems of papyrus plants grown along the Nile River. Papyrus was crafted in Egypt as early as 2400 B.C.  Historically, paper has been made from plant fibers such as hemp and later wood pulp.

One of Cheryl's favorites is onion paper, shown in samples above.

Cheryl begins her process with shredded office paper, which means her artistry has a recycling component. She manages to blend the paper without burning out her blender motor.

Container of pulp ready to be made into paper
Once blended, the pulp is poured into a container or directly into a large bin.  Cheryl "screens" the paper.  She acknowledged that it took some trial and error to get her "flick of the wrist" action just right to ensure a smooth layer of pulp on the screen.
Screening the pulp takes but a minute or less.
Cheryl's favorite part is decorating the paper with dried flowers, leaves, stems, vegetable peels and slices, and other items added after screening.

Leaves and stems add depth and color to handcrafted paper.

The screen is homemade from items available at a hardware store such as wood frames, screening like that used for a screen door, and a plastic grid base with holes.  Once screened, Cheryl reviews all the edges to make sure they are smooth and then carefully removes the paper from the screen.

The screen frame separates easily to allow for removal of the paper.
Excess water falls through the screen.

The paper is placed on a towel for drying.  Warm air dries the paper in an hour or so.
Freshly made paper dries on a towel shortly after screening

Paper in varied stages of dryness

The unused pulp from a day's paper making may be stored in balls and re-used at a later time. Simply add water to give the pulp sufficient consistency for screening.

Colored balls of dried pulp await their turn to be made into paper.
Cheryl makes specialty paper items such as journals and decorative treasure boxes.  Her items are treasures indeed. For more information about Cheryl and her paper making pursuits, be sure to visit her blog Papel ... Especially for You.

Handwritten journals have a special warmth that a computer journal cannot match!

Cheryl's items for sale on display at Park Silly Sunday Market

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