I have been trained as a papermaker and sculptor. I now make drawings and site-specific installations. I fell in love with handmade paper for it’s humility, it’s process, and it’s chameleon nature. The same fiber with different treatment can behave like fabric or leather, silk or fiberglass. Handmade paper opened a way of thinking for me as an artist.
Papermaking taught me to innovate, and to pay close attention with all of my senses. This installation is an exploration of natural dye and handmade paper, two materials for which water is primary.
Cochineal is an ancient dye, and is extracted from the bodies of insects. The colors these insects produce range from a bright orange to a deep purple, based on the PH of the dye and the material it is adhering to (silk, wool, cotton, etc.).
Abaca is a papermaking fiber derived from a banana leaf native to the Philippines. It is incredibly strong, and when it has been beaten a long time becomes transparent and shrinks a great deal. It has a surface similar to parchment or skin.
In my studio I use botanical specemins in developing an image. Putting a leaf under a microscope reveals a surface that looks like rivers seen from space or the network of veins in my own body. Using this source image I created a pattern stencil that I could repeat in abaca paper.
This installation is hand dyed fabric with individual 8 X 8 inch sheets of stenciled abaca couched onto its surface. The dye in the fabric is fugitive, and as soon as it is re-wet it activates. The paper draws in the pigment and, as it dries clings to the fabric and shrinks creating a puckered surface. The paper is strong enough to give form to the fabric, and to bridge gaps between fabric panels.