Paper Experiments

Tara Dyson Holland with her skirt and the pieces cut up ready to pulp into paper.

Tara Dyson Holland with her skirt and the pieces cut up ready to pulp into paper.

This week we had our ongoing collaboration studio play day. Tara cut up a plum coloured cotton skirt which was pulped to make the most beautiful paper. The colour is so rich it looked like wine in the vat, good enough to drink!

As is our habit, we sat around the fire with cups of coffee and pastries talking about art, paper, clay and printmaking . Nothing got done for quite awhile as we talked about the process of our collaboration, what we had done to date and where we want to take it into the future. As we all live some distance from each other, making these times together is so precious. But we need a good stretch of time before the talking kicks into action and suddenly things start to happen.

Its like the process of alchemy, boiling and bubbling, fermenting of ideas, material experiments then bingo, there is the gold at the bottom of the pot. For us it was when I pulled out some shredded cardboard packaging I had spotted as it as about to go into a waste skip. I took it home and kept it in the cupboard, thinking it might be good for something, I just didn’t know what. But It was so beautiful, stretchable and woven that I thought one day I would use it..

When I brought it out we got excited and poured paper pulp through it, first the pulp from my linen and cotton pants I wore when doing my residency in the desert, then added Tara’s plum paper pulp as a highlight. We experimented with more sculptural shapes, wrapping the packaging cardboard around a disused wire hanging basket to get a vessel shape.

It was so exciting see all the paper and paper experiments out drying in the sun. Suddenly all the energy evaporated and we adjourned for pumpkin soup and quiche for lunch. Sometimes you have to talk and talk before the ideas explode into action. This means you just have to turn up to the studio, to the collaborative days in order for the magic to happen. And it always does - usually always at the end. Its about faith and commitment to the process. It will be interesting to see where this goes next….

Plum paper and paper pulp through cardboard packaging experiments.

Plum paper and paper pulp through cardboard packaging experiments.

Heather Matthew