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.
We find ourselves staring down the end of the calendar year, taking stock of this moment in time at the studio. It's been a year of change, growth and gratitude. Here's a look back.
Overall these experiences have felt grounding, yet with every step forward we've felt some nervousness around the financial impact of our growth. We've chosen to see it as an investment in what we can provide. As we look to what next year might bring we hope to continue building a community around the art and craft of papermaking.
In January we're excited about the opening of the c3: Papermaking Residency exhibition that will feature the 4 artists we've worked with over this past summer. Be sure to visit c3's website for information about the exhibition and its associated programs. We'll also start reviewing applications for the next round of residency artists at the end of January, with the residencies occurring at our studio from May through August. We'll follow the same flow of workshop seasons in the spring and fall, and will fit in private workshops, membership rentals, demos in the community, and custom orders around the classes. In many ways we hope 2019 mirrors the ebb/flow of this year, creating a stable platform for our studio and for what we are able to offer.
As we move into our sixth year of operations please consider making a gift to help us keep on top of studio improvements and general overhead. We have fiscal sponsorship via Fractured Atlas and you can make a gift to us via their website. We have a wish list of items we're hoping to purchase with donated funds, and that list is on our support page. And of course we would be happy to take a direct donation of items from our wishlist, just send us an email to discuss.
Many thanks to everyone who has engaged with us this year!!! Your support and interest keeps the studio thriving.
L O N G L I V E P A P E R M A K I N G!
Over the past week both Gary and I have had colds so studio work came mostly to a halt. I'm feeling a bit better today so thought I'd take advantage of my convalescing time to catch up on the trajectory of leaving my day job back at the end of June and how things have gone thus far.
I'm not going to lie, it's been a bumpy ride. Orders and students have come in fits and starts. While the overall pace of things has definitely picked up over the last several months, the money side of things is still very uneven. I knew that being self employed would come with no financial guarantee, so had prepared myself as much as possible. I do my best not to let a sense of desperation take hold if things are looking tight, but to try and problem solve about how to make the money come in a natural and unforced fashion. Figuring out how to best get the word out about our classes and custom order offerings can be a challenge when you don't have a marketing budget and are an introvert. Our best way to reach people is word of mouth, so if you've taken a class, or bought our paper, please tell people you know. And for all of you who have helped spread the word- THANK YOU! It means the world to us.
Last Thursday marked a big occasion for our studio- it was Jenn's last day at her day job! After 5 years as the HR & Office Coordinator for the non-profit classical radio station in Portland, it was time to move on. Here are some of Jenn's thoughts on the transition.
This is going to be pretty long, so if you're looking for something breezy and succinct, this isn't the post for you. In a sea of inspirational internet blogs about quitting your day job, I don't have all the answers. All I can offer is some insight into how I got to this place, and maybe that will help someone else feel a little less alone in their struggles. Or maybe it will help you understand why our paper studio is bigger than a small business, it's huge to us. It's a radically different way of life. It's a choice to move towards investing in our hopes and dreams and to have the privilege to share them with others.
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.
This past week we said goodbye to our longtime animal companion, Mojo. He was a 13.5 yr. old attention loving lap cat who battled what we believe was a type of lymphoma/cancer with his characteristic stubbornness. We loved Mojo with full and open hearts, and are so grateful to have spent many purr filled years with him.
Mojo was adopted from an animal rescue organization in upstate NY. To honor his memory we will donate 10% of our retail sales profits from now until the end of the year to a wonderful Portland non-profit animal adoption and rescue group, the Pixie Project. We frequently drive past their glass fronted location and always keep an eye out for cats in their "cattery" adoption room. We love seeing their snoozing faces, and we often travel that way just to spy how many cats we can spot. It never fails to make us smile.
Over the next few weeks and months we'll be adding many new seasonal items to our online store, and look forward to giving the Pixie Project a nice, big donation check to start off 2013.
Give your furry loved ones a few extra pets for us! Their time with us is a gift.
Pulp & Deckle is a handmade papermaking studio located in Portland, OR.