Saturday, March 29, 2008

A Badger Paper Arrives

A couple of times a year, a lovely small envelope made with handmade paper arrives from Idaho. That small envelope always delivers a personal message about the changing seasons and about celebrating handmade paper. Tom Bennick has been sending his "Badger Papers" for several years now. Just after his latest arrived earlier this week, I asked Tom to put together some thoughts about Badger Papers and his journey with handmade paper:

My papermaking started about 15 or more years ago. I was taking a book arts class when the epiphany of making paper came to me. At the time I didn't realize paper would become part of my life to the degree it is.

In the book arts class, one of the guest instructors gave a very short demonstration on paper. Everyone in class made this small piece of paper made from linters that had been processed via the garbage disposal method. The one thing the instructor talked about was making paper from almost any fiber. He pointed out the window and said "one can make paper from lawn grass."

Thus my paper journey began.

I started out being dumb as a turnip about making paper. One of my first attempts at making paper was with potatoes. I didn't know I was to use the vine part of the plant but instead I used the potato. I boiled this mess for several hours, poured on a screen and waited until it hardened to the point of being road patch. I knew at this time I needed to learn more about paper.

From my first experiments I knew there was something mysterious, exciting, challenging and potential in paper. Since that first experience I have never quit with my journey with paper. I am an advocate of paper and feel that paper is the substrate for civilization. On my business card I have "paper, like life, is taken for granted." I don't know where this phrase came from but probably not something original.

I'm on the Idaho Commission on the Arts Teaching Roster. This means I have the opportunity to spread the wonderful world of paper to a variety of kids and adults in Idaho.

I wish I could remember why I started making my Badger Papers. It has been over seven years that I have been making and sending these bits of paper to people who have been kind to me or have shown an interest in paper. The list gets longer every season. The Badger Paper comes from the left over pulp and scraps of paper after a class or one of my paper projects.

The term Badger Paper is a British expression for using leftover pulp to make a different kind of paper.

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