Posted by: Small House Under a Big Sky Homestead | April 17, 2012

Handmade Paper Artwork Inspired by the Garden

It dawned on me the other day I’d been so busy showing my home remodeling projects I hadn’t shown you my friends, any of my art! This is a photo rich blog…thank you for looking!

I am a hand papermaker who turns non-native plant materials into highly textured handmade papers. These papers end up in many places;  in hand constructed books, on lampshades, as placemats, as furniture drawer liners, cast bowl forms and on canvases that end up on walls. (As an art photographer for many years, you wll see that some canvases have Polaroid Transfer images incorporated into them.)

Hand papermaking is not only “kitchen chemistry” — you don’t always know what you will get, it’s a fun and a highly creative and satisfying endeavor. I get a kick out of taking “nothing” and making “something.”

It’s also a very time consuming process. Because I start with living plants that need to be harvested, dried, soaked, cooked, beaten and then blended… the way I make paper takes up to 100 hours per plant fiber type and most of my papers have four to six different plant fiber types in them. I work at this mostly in the studio during the winter months of snowy Michigan when my gardening and furniture restoration playtime is at rest.

Sheets of 8 1/2″ X 11″ contrasting plant papers lying on my studio’s Riverrock floor.

Larger, thicker sheets packaged as a set of four placemats and sometimes used in projects like book making.

This is an example of a series of 5″ X 5″ mini canvases I made one winter. This one highlights a pressed Japanese maple leaf.

I also paint tissue papers from time to time and use them in projects as well. You may have seen the birdhouses and old wooden shoes decoupaged with these tissues in an earlier “Porch Reveal” post.

These handpanted tissue papers can be used to wrap packages, fill a gift bag, or used in many craft projects.

In addition to the sheets of plant papers, here are some samples of my handmade paper artwork. This cast bowl form is titled, “Wise Woman Bowl.”

I recently “challenged”  R Lucus Scott, a talentedfurniture restorer and Michigan Stock list carrier of the Annie Sloan Chalk Paint to a “My Paper in Your Furniture” challenge. I challenged Randy to see just how he would use my papers with his furniture. This is called the “The Handmade Paper on Furniture Challenge.” I’m waiting to hear about his ideas and to see his finished work. It will be featured in this blog in the future!

If you had these plant papers or tissue papers in your hand, how would you use them with furniture?

Small House / Big Sky Donna


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