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.
A couple of weekends back we went to Arch Cape, OR for the weekend to celebrate Jenn's birthday. While there we decided to collect seaweed on the beach (good thing we brought our rain boots!) The weather was pretty stormy and we had a limited window of opportunity for scavenging, but we estimate that we collected about .5 lbs of wet material.
As we couldn't get to the studio right away, we stored the seaweed in a lidded container with water in our basement.
Once we were ready to bring it over to the studio we rinsed it off, and put in a large pot with a bit of soda ash to cook for about 2 hours. We checked about every 30 mins. to see how the plant was when we gently tried to pull it apart, and once it started pulling without resistance we figured it was done and ready to be rinsed.
When disposing of the water that the plants were cooked in, we made sure to add in some vinegar to neutralize the toxicity of the water/soda ash before disposal. Here we are rinsing the seaweed with water and vinegar, and collecting it in our large strainer.
After straining the seaweed we decided to try putting it in our "critter" beater for about 1.5 hours. While there were some stubborn ribbon-y clumps, most of the material broke down well into semi-short fibers. We might have been able to beat the material a little longer to get the fibers to be less clumpy. Next time!
As this was our first time making seaweed paper we weren't really sure about the quality of the plants we collected. In hindsight I think it would be best to collect longer strands that are more grass-like. Much of our seaweed had nodules, and heck, maybe isn't even seaweed but some other ocean plant life. In the future we will also collect more material. We had to couch 2-3 layers of fibers to make a solid sheet without holes.
Once the seaweed was dried for about 48 hours in our restraint drying box, we discovered it really did not want to release itself from our cotton blotters. We decided that rather than trying to peel off the super thin sheets, we'll leave them on the blotters and make some art of them. Printmaking anyone?
So yes, in the future we'll be doing some things differently with our seaweed papers. Hopefully we'll end up with a more successful end product next time around. Anyone out there got any tips for us? We'd love to hear them!
Pulp & Deckle is a handmade papermaking studio located in Portland, OR.