Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Guest Blogger Victoria Cowan, on Finesse Papermaking at PBI

Victoria Cowan is my guest blogger for today. She is an award-winning artist and a gifted instructor. Both experimental and productive, she shows new work regularly in a number of venues, and is much in demand as a workshop leader. Because her preference is to explore an idea in depth, Victoria usually makes a series to follow the branches of an original inspiration. Perception, cognition and memory are her particular areas of interest. For more about Victoria, visit her website at Victoria attended her first PBI this year and started her first day making paper in Bernie Vinzani's class. Thank you for sharing your experience here on my blog and I am looking forward to seeing what you do with your papers in the future!

First class of first day and, typical of me, it only took me a few minutes to put my foot down my throat, not wanting to share a screen. And who did I 'reject'? Why none other than the instructor of my class in the next session. Some days one just does it all off kilter! My reason was clear enough to me (hoping to use the paper I made in an artists' book and thinking that it would lend itself to a good layout if the watermark only took up one side of the sheet), but perhaps I could have done it differently? So I am very appreciative of her not holding it against me.

As an experienced instructor myself, I was impressed by Bernie's exhaustive hand-outs on paper-making. He is also a deeply thoughtful person—he brought an historic document from a paper-making company in Scotland to show to me, because their name was the same as mine.

Bernie Vinzani

Watermarks attached to the screens

Bernie showed us how to apply our watermarks to our screens. Since mine was quite simple, I was ready to make a sheet quite quickly. And luck was with me; the very first one had no clumps, bumps or tears. Bernie publicly announced it; I was no longer a paper virgin.

Everyone was very helpful and there was much interpersonal questioning and showing of methods.

Tom Balbo

Tom let me try his beautifully made small mould & deckle. Annie responded generously when, looking over her shoulder at her mixing different colours of pulp and flinging tears at the screen with abandon, I asked, "Er . . .what are you doing?" The sheets I made as a result are among my favourites because they are so painterly and could become a rich ground for a series of prints.

Two-colour papers

We used different kinds of pulp—including an abaca and hemp mixture, and cotton. Comparing them with what I'd seen when people experiment with using a hand drill for beating pulp in a pail was an immediate and powerful lesson in the importance of a good beater and well-made pulp. Thanks, Andrea!

Samples of class work on display

Now that I have such luscious sheets, each unique, each both delicate and strong, I'm almost afraid to use them. You know . . .it's that old artist thing about not ruining one's canvas, whatever that canvas happens to be. But I'll get over it, and hope I may guest blog again at that time and show you all what I did.

Because the first two days were wintry and the concrete floor very cold and wet, I was wearing thick-soled winter boots made with a waterproof fabric. Shudda known better! I'm pretty sure they are now transformed forever, a souvenir of my first days at PBI that will always make me grin.

- Victoria Cowan


kurberry said...

Was great to meet you, Victoria!

Anonymous said...

it was great to meet you - and everyone else. I was so pleased that I was actually able to make paper - and that it looked like paper.

MyHandboundBooks said...

There were some really wonderful papers produced in this class! Thanks for sharing your experience with us, Victoria :)

Kara said...

Now that's an art. It takes artistry and mastery to create such papers. I might try to do that.