Reaching Out + Making It Work
Yesterday we had our first go at making paper in our makeshift home studio. As many of you know last fall we moved from our home of 10 years in Portland, to a house in Oregon City. We had already been eyeing fixing up the space you see us working in as a home studio but never thought we'd need to be using it so soon.
A month ago we were busy with an open house, private workshops with teens and artists, prep for our spring workshop series, and plotting out production papermaking for a book project we are working on with c3:initiative. Everything seemed to be on track. Then things started to abruptly change.
For those that are just getting to know us, we are a husband and wife team who operate a community hand papermaking studio. We began in fall 2012. Over the years we've been in 3 different studios, taught hundreds of students, worked with numerous artists, offered demos and sales at festivals and offsite locations, and rent our equipment and space for fellow makers to access. We had hoped that the studio would one day be our full time focus. After the first few years we realized that this would not be sustainable for many reasons.
The past two years we have both had primary jobs outside of the studio that have brought us stability, personal growth and a steady income. This enabled us to focus on building the studio by doing things we wanted to do, rather than what we needed to do. Most of the time the studio is self sustaining, meaning that we bring in enough income to cover rent, materials, insurance, etc. We don't pay ourselves for the work we do at Pulp & Deckle.
As the world has abruptly shifted, so have our lives. Gary was just laid off from his primary job, meaning our income has been reduced by half. It's a familiar story right now. We're grateful Jenn can work from home in her role as a Project Manager for the non-profit arts org c3:initiative. Without this income, and soon, unemployment for Gary, we would really be scrambling.
Recently we realized that we were going to need to bring our studio home with us so we could continue making paper for the projects we have committed to. Oregon enacted a shelter in place order, and we are taking it very seriously.
In the slideshow above you can see Gary making a cotton rag/abaca blend using denim fabric scraps and unbleached abaca fibers. Jenn is making iris paper from materials harvested in our yard. These papers will be part of an edition of books that c3:initiative received grant funding to make, commemorating the last five years of the papermaking residency program that we collaborate on together. We're making 360 pieces of paper for the project. The rainy conditions, allergies, and cold weather are making this a somewhat slow process, but we'll get there!
Thank you to everyone who has signed up for workshops and has deferred their registration to future classes. We're hopeful we'll be back in our North Portland studio soon.
Until then, if you can support our work we'd be forever grateful! Here are the ways you can do that.
Our commitment to process, hand making, and sharing the craft of paper is as strong as ever. Thank you for helping us keep going! It's a crazy and unpredictable moment in global history. Be kind to yourself and to others. There's no way to know what tomorrow might bring, but for today we can do what we need to to help ourselves and each other.
Looking back, moving forward
At the end of the year it seems everyone is taking stock of the past 12 months and thinking about what tomorrow will bring. More of the same? Something fresh? Likely a mix of both. We'll jump into the melee and share our recap of the year and what we are looking forward to in 2014.
2013 was the first full year of Pulp & Deckle being in existence. We honed our teaching skills, took a 5 week small business workshop via the PSU Business Outreach Program, particpated in 2 farmer's markets and 3 days of Art in the Pearl (doing demos), were vendors at the St. Johns Bizarre, competed in the Martha Stewart American Made Awards, were interviewed for a video currently on view at the Museum of Contemporary Craft, participated in Little Boxes, and hosted several open house/demo. events at the studio. It seems fitting that as the calendar year turns over we are pulping away at the studio, working on a custom order of 820 papers for a unique book project (more on that soon!).
It's been a year of victories, firsts, failures and many, many learning opportunities. While we're not quite as far along as we had hoped we'd be in terms of being employed full-time by ourselves (we both still have day jobs to pay the bills), we do recognize what we've accomplished. We're still volunteering our time at the studio, and unfortunately did not qualify for a small business loan, but we're not going to let that keep us from charging ahead.
A few things that we're looking forward to in 2014 are giving a talk/demo./family activity at the Museum of the Oregon Territory in Feb., and teaching a watermarks workshop at Sitka Center for Art and Ecology in July. We're also excited to formally launch our line of custom wedding goods (designs coming in late Jan.)
As we look to the new year, we're honing our business plan to identify the kinds of partnerships and programs we'd like to develop. Our studio is dedicated to the creation, promotion and preservation of the handmade papermaking process. As such we'd like to put more of an emphasis on developing community engagement projects that connect people with handmade paper in a meaningful way. We've got an idea cooking for a Valentine's Day related project (details coming soon!), and are also looking at ways we can have drop-in workshop nights. We'd love to do more demo. gigs, and teach workshops (and take workshops!) around the globe (so get in touch if you have a collaboration you'd like to do with us). And we will be placing an emphasis on creating papers from locally harvested plants like iris leaves, sitka spruce bark, gladiola stalks, cattails, and crocosmia, just to name a few. There's a lot of room to grow and learn and we welcome the new year with open arms!
Happy New Year! See you on the other side.
marbled papers recycled papers seed papers vegetable and fruit papyrus beer paper cotton rag paper bamboo paper papers made with wedding flowers eastern style papers (mulberry, banana) mobiles seed paper confetti invitations bookmarks stationery custom postcards for local businesses menus coasters party backdrops nightlights journals masks ornaments banners thrown pulp sculptures posters buttons sewn items typed on items drawings prints
Pulp & Deckle is a handmade papermaking studio located in Oregon.