My papermaking career began in 1977 when I followed the papermaking instructions in American Artist magazine (August 1977) and attempted to make a round piece of paper from grass clippings, using embroidery hoops as my mold and deckle and my kitchen blender. Since that first papermaking experiment, making paper has been a lifelong passion, advancing from recycled newsprint to other fibers—cotton linters, abaca and cotton rag, experimenting with various techniques—casting, hand dying, quilting, embedding and collaging.
I have since returned to my original experiment—making paper from natural fibers. I am currently making assemblages and wall hangings, exploring the relationship between paper and fabrics such as silk and linen, combining these with other natural fibers and found objects that have meaning in the Chinese concepts of luck, prosperity, longevity, happiness and wealth. For example, many of my wall hangings incorporate bamboo, a symbol of longevity, which I grow in my gardens to use in my artwork.
The paper is made from natural fibers that I gather in the fall from my garden and along the river bank. Some of the papers are made from rush, gladioli, iris, yucca and mulberry.
Using the eastern method of papermaking I beat the raw fiber by hand with a stick and then in a blender. Next the fibers are suspended in water with a formation aid. The sparkled paper is achieved by adding mica to the pulp. Then I pour the pulp over a mold which gives the paper its shape. During this step I add or embed found objects such as twigs, leaves and feathers into the wet pulp. The sheets are then dried on a flat board in the sun.
After the paper is dry I assemble the sheets in a collage along with fabrics, paint, bamboo and found objects.